Monday, February 28, 2011

Party Time

The slowness. It's the slowness that takes time to understand. You may miss it entirely; vacationers on their own special schedule, expats who attempt to create a 'life speed' here that matches what their used to.

You may be thinking of the slow pace of a rural and Latin flavored small village. You know, chickens rooting around, someone napping under their hat. It's not slow like that.

Much has been bandied about regarding the cumbersome government bureaucracies or ineffective business practices. Foreigners often 'have' the solution. I've heard it myself as well as from reading other people's reactions: "If only Uruguayan businesses would ..." or "What Uruguay needs is......".
Not only are these views reasoning a way to make what they've found more like what they've left, they are also way off about how simple any adjustments would be.

Ford Club Wagon. Special rides are everywhere.
I feel like business, achievement, cultural sensibilities and governmental intrusions are all linked. You can't change one without effecting the others. People are still polite here. I know, everyone thinks they are too, but polite society means overall and all or nothing. If your society is overall not very polite, that's what will come through. Individual instances are not relevant. 
People appear to value their time over achievement. Not doing anything, within the context of purposeful life, is just as important as doing something. This is no small fact.
Many people, even here feel the gov. could do more, but change is slow and recent history is full of disastrous missteps. The fact is Uruguayans have voted in a left government for a second time since the historic victory of the Frente Amplio (Broad Front) which includes the political faction of the Tupamaros, the revolutionary force who's persistance helped to topple the military dictatorship.
Progress is being made, but slowly and that seems best.

Sure, I'd change some laws to even up the tax and pension situation immediately just to feed the poor and get people indoors, but it's not up to me.

Lots of dancing and flags at 'La Llamadas'

La Llamadas (la  ja-ma-das) means something like the calling. It's named for the drumming which is the main activity of these events. One neighborhood would call to another and the former slave population, who's primarily responsible for this culture, would gather.

Friends dragged me off to this street party (I tried to beg off, after all it was something like 10:00 pm!) and we walked some 15 blocks to get a view. People rent balconies, similar to Carnaval or Mardi Gras for a better view, but we pushed ahead at one crossing.

posing for pictures was the best part

 We missed a lot of the parade, but it was a lot of fun. The actors were all great about posing with us for a photo. After hours of walking and dancing, they were all in excellent spirits. I couldn't help thinking they'd be annoyed. I still have so much adjusting to do.

Even the cops were cool.

Next time: Relaxed Marijuana Laws in Uruguay