Change of scenery, and language.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil!
I did have a stop along the way between Buenos Aires and Rio. But for some reason, the little country that is wedged between the 2 biggest South American Countries is often overlooked. Who am I to change that? I shall overlook Uruguay too.
But I have my reasons for doing so.
The Uruguayan capital Montevideo is just too eerily similar to Beirut.
The City's waterfront has a "Corniche" that looks like this on one end….
...and has a public beach on another (sort of… technically it isn't the end of the Corniche but the end of a section of it.)
People hangout there around sunset and can pretty much be divided into 2 categories: the runners (and boy do they take the running seriously) and let's call the other group the Arguileh puffers.
Ok, they aren't puffing on their Arguilehs but this is what half the population of Montevideo looks like (Half might sound like one of these exaggerations that are often used and I hate, but I did some random sampling at different points in the city and at different times of day and and it's pretty damn close to half):
They have legs. Two of them. They have a left arm and all of its regular attachments. Pretty much standard human physiology so far. However, the right side of their torso is where they differ from other human beings. Where most people have their right arm, half of Montevideoans possess a cyborg limb whose function is to generate fuel to run the rest of the body.
Clutched in the armpit area is a massive thermos-like reservoir of hot water. Judging by their sizes they could fit anywhere between 2 and 10 Liters of boiling water. The bicep area of the arm is used to secure that tank in place with an unescapable professional wrestling headlock. The hand part clamps a dried-squash at mouth height. Out of that squash, which is filled with Yerba Mate, comes a metal straw/spoon/sifter thingie into what I presume is a human mouth, but I can't confirm that as it's always hiding behind the squash. This cyborg limb/production line is an engineering marvel as the whole transfer of boiling water into the the mug to brew the waiting Mate buds takes place swiftly while people walk on busy streets, tend to kids or pets, and make out with lovers.
So basically what I'm trying to say is that the Mate kit reminded me of the stupid Arguileh kit.
Some sidewalks along Montevideo's hilly roads could also resemble Beirut's irregular sidewalks.
It also has ugly buildings like this one.
It's a lot more expensive than its bigger neighbor Argentina.
Every part of the world has this joke:
Do you know what the easiest way to make money is? Buy a (insert nationality) for what they're worth and sell them for what they think they are worth?
In the Arab world the joke is on the Lebanese. In this part of the world it's always been the Argentinians, and I must say the Argentinian Peso isn't helping to dispel the stereotype.
By the way, I lied. Montevideo is nothing like Beirut.
The political scene is dominated by left vs left battles. The right is quite marginalized. They probably sit in cafes like this one and pretend they matter.
The president in Uruguay was a revolutionary fighter who donates 90% of his official salary to charity.
The idiot of Lebanon destroyed a refugee camp to become president, and makes 90% of his income from bribes and corrupt dealings.
Uruguay will be a major player in the upcoming World Cup. Lebanon sold their World Cup chance for an iPhone.
Uruguay has cows. Lebanon has rotten meat scandals.
Uruguay is Green. Lebanon is only green in songs and with envy.
I guess Rio will have to wait.