love, ani xo

everything you ever wanted to know about uruguay. right here. right now.

enter your email and subscribe to love, ani xo!

rss feed

Monday, January 30, 2006

los barrios en buenos aires

buenos aires is the 9th biggest city in the world and it's impossible to see everything in a week, so from my research i think these neighborhoods are worth visiting. i've taken some quotes from travellers to b.a from various websites.


"I ended up spending most of my time in Palermo SOHO and Palermo Hollywood because this is a quieter more upscale area(s) of BA. The traffic is lighter (less pollution) and all the buildings are low rise. There are many small independently owned shops, boutiques and restaurants here and the quality of the food here is overall higher than elsewhere in the city. the prices are a bit higher here but still a great deal for foreigners. Next time I visit BA to shop and eat I will stay in Palermo SOHO. "
from alex in toronto

the national library

la boca

"This area is close to the port where many immigrants settled during the last century. The colourful facades along the Caminito street are very picturesque and you can find tango dancers and many restaurants in this area. LA Boca is very touristy and far away from the center, but it is still a great place to visit. We had lunch in a popular family owned restaurant. They were really kind and served us delicious empanadas and bife de chorizo."
by danielF

lots of colourful buildings everywhere

san telmo

i have to check out the flea market on sunday.

"San Telmo is a popular and typical district; at the 19th century it was a district for the richest families of Buenos Aires, and nowadays, ancient houses, restaurants and tango music give this place a very particular atmosphere. On Sunday mornings, there is a flea market at Plaza Dorrego, where you can find all kind of antiques and handicrafts, and a lot of peculiar characters"
from andal13

café tortoni in buenos aires

Café Tortoni is the oldest café in buenos aires with tango shows every night. i'm not going to miss this.

Avenida de Mayo 825 @ piedras

"This historic cafe has served as the artistic and intellectual capital of Buenos Aires since 1858, hosting notable guests such as Jorge Luis Borges, Julio de Caro, Cátulo Castillo, and José Gobello. Wonderfully appointed in woods, stained glass, yellowing marble, and bronzes, the place tells more about its history by simply existing than any of the photos hanging on its walls could. This is the perfect spot for a coffee or a small snack when wandering along Avenida de Mayo. Twice-nightly tango shows at 7:30 and 9:30pm in a cramped side gallery where the performers often walk through the crowd are worth stopping in for. What makes the Tortoni all the more special is that locals and tourists seem to exist side-by-side here, one never overwhelming the other. Do not, however, expect great service: Sometimes only jumping up and down will get the staff's attention, even when they are just a few feet from you."

Thursday, January 26, 2006

the supersonicos

i just discovered another uruguayan band. the supersonicos. they have a 60's surf sound. click on the download section and listen to them. i also received an email from mauro from the band hablan por la espalda. he said that they're playing with the band santa cruz at b.j in montevideo on february 10th. so if i'm in montevideo that day and i can find someone to take me there, i'm going!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

abortion is illegal

this is old news from 2004. "The Uruguayan Senate fell just three votes short of passing a law that would have legalised abortion. According to opinion polls, 63 percent of the population of this South American country is in favour of making abortion legal."

read the rest of the article.

pictures of uruguay

i did a search on flickr for some photos of uruguay and found these photos. some of those pictures are taken on "avenida 18 de julio". it means 18th of july and that's independance day in uruguay. 18 de julio is the main shopping street in downtown montevideo. i've taken lots of photos there and probably will take some more.

i also found these photos. scroll down the page and you'll see a picture titled architexture02 that was taken in punta de leste. on my last trip we went to punta de leste. it's an expensive resort town in uruguay outside of montevideo. mostly filled with argentinian tourists in the summer. it's really overrated. it's just like whistler but with a nice beach. not much character. lots of expensive restaurants, designer boutiques and bars. on the next page there's a few pictures of piriapolis which is where we're going to stay in a rented house for 2 weeks. i've stayed there before. it's nice little town with a beach.

Monday, January 23, 2006


here are some questions that some people have been asking me lately so i thought i would put my answers down here. any other questions?

why are you going to montevideo, uruguay?

my dad's family is from there. i was born there but my parents and i emigrated to montreal when i was 5. i haven't been there since 1999 and february is a great time to go. it's summer!

am i excited?

i am. but being around family all the time will probably get on my nerves after a while.

what am i bringing?

just a small suitcase with a week's worth of clothing that i can wash. i might have to buy another small suitcase while i'm there if i plan to do some shopping. i'm also bringing my video and still cameras.

how many times have i been back?

once in 1985, 1988 and nye 1998-1999

what's your nationality?

armenian. i've never been to armenia.

do you feel like montevideo is home?

i don't feel connected to the culture because i was so young when i left and can't remember it very well but i feel connected in different ways.

would you move back?

i would move back if i had to for a while. maybe i'll retire there!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

From Uruguay: Miami Vice is shooting in Uruguay

From Uruguay: Miami Vice is shooting in Uruguay

25 watts

it's not very often that you see a movie made in uruguay and showing at a film festival, so when i saw 25 watts a few years ago screening at the vancouver film festival, i got so excited and went to see it. films get made in uruguay but they usually don't get seen by an international audience. i haven't seen too many uruguayan films but i've heard they just try to copy hollywood films. i was surprised at how much i loved 25 watts. especially seeing the different neighbourhoods and hearing the way people speak spanish there. and i actually laughed! very few movies make me laugh. even funny ones. and i just found out that 25 watts and whiskey are playing at the cinemateca uruguaya the week that i arrive!

directors Juan Pablo Rebella and Pablo Stoll are part of a new wave of uruguayan cinema.

plot description

"Three teenage guys try to figure out what they're supposed to be doing with their lives in this drama from Uruguay that puts the emphasis on character over narrative. Javi has landed a job driving a sound truck that plays the same radio spot for pasta all day long, while his buddy Leche, who is supposed to be studying for his exams, instead finds himself having sexual fantasies about his tutor, and Seba is waylaid by a handful of small-time dope dealers when all he wants to do is go home and watch the porno movie he's just rented. 25 Watts' depiction of misfit teens helped it earn the Youth Jury Prize at the 2001 Rotterdam Film Festival." Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

i was interested in seeing this movie again and saw it for sale on amazon for a lot of money. i'm sure you can find it at the specialized video stores or maybe the foreign section of blockbuster or rogers?

last year my parents went to see their new movie whiskey at the montreal world film festival and they said it was amazing. i still haven't seen it. whiskey made in on film threat's 10 best unseen films of 2005

"From Uruguay comes this deceptively simple but endlessly wise comedy from the filmmaking team Juan Pablo Rebella and Pablo Stoll. A none-too-successful sock factory owner gets his loyal secretary to pretend she is his wife in a masquerade to impress his estranged brother, a prosperous businessman living in Brazil. What might have been a silly farce instead becomes an amazingly original meditation on dashed expectations, wobbly perceptions, and the inability to communicate with those closest to us. The film is a symphony of small gestures, throwaway glances, brief exchanges of unexpected observation and silences which actually say more than pages of dialogue, and Mirella Pascual’s richly enigmatic performance as the secretary is an extraordinary work of art." phil hall

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

the emigration problem in uruguay

an excellent article here on why one fifths of uruguayans live abroad. same reason we left in the 70's.

dulce de leche

dulce de leche means "sweet milk" and it's a very popular spread in south america. it's becoming a lot more popular in north america with häagen-dazs making a dulce de leche ice cream flavour. in uruguay the most popular brand of dulce de leche is conaprole. you can find it in specialized stores in vancouver. i recently found it at an iga! and i've also found it in a latino store in montreal.

you can make homemade dulce de leche. all you need to do is boil a can of sweetened condensed milk in water for 2 hours. you have to be careful for it not to explode. it's happened once to my mom and it's not fun to clean up.

in uruguay, almost every type of desert is available with a dulce de leche flavour. cookies, cakes, candies, pop sicles, everything! yummy!

Monday, January 16, 2006

some uruguayan bands to check out

here's a little bit of history on the emergence of uruguayan rock. and a descriptionof uruguayan groups from the 60's and 70's. maybe i'll find a record by los mockers while i'm there! read the book magic land, a guide to beat, psych and prog rock music from 66-67 in argentina and uruguay for more in depth info.

current bands from montevideo

hablando por la espalda (talking behind your back) rock

los culpables (the guilty) punk/hardcore

halo hardcore

la teja pride hip hop. la teja is the neighbourhood in montevideo that i grew up in.

los nostardamos (will be late) rock/garage/blues

motosierra (chainsaw) punk/hardcore. go to the press section and read their interview. according to the website they're "south america's first and only international punk rock band with records worldwide."

columbia rock/pop

rudos wild trip psychobilly/punk

el umbral (threshold) pop punk/rock

boomerang rock/garage/pop

and my favourite of all these bands is santa cruz rock

and for something completely different: glazzneuf synth-pop

Thursday, January 12, 2006

british author martin amis lives in montevideo

if you don't know who martin amis is, read this.

you can read the whole interview here.

RB: How much time do you spend in England?

MA: I live in England.

RB: I know, but how much time do you spend there?

MA: We spend what's changing in our lives is that we are spending more time in Uruguay. My wife is half-Uruguayan.

RB: Are you familiar with the Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano?

MA: No. [Does he live] In Montevideo?

RB: I think so. A wonderful writer. Loves what most of the world calls football, if that means anything to you.

MA: Oh yes and I love football too.

RB: Is Montevideo nice?

MA: It's sort of second world. Not Mercedes and BMWs Ciats and Scottos.

RB: Galeano was mentioned in piece that Lawrence Wechsler wrote in the New Yorker [later becoming the book, A Miracle, A Universe] and he was asked why he lived in Montevideo since he is half-Argentine. Galeano, who is a leftist in the Latin American political spectrum, said, "If I killed in Montevideo people would know it was my enemies, but if I was killed in Buenos Aires people wouldn't know if it was my friends or my enemies."

MA: It's a civil society now with strong traditions, and I have never seen any unpleasantness in the six or seven months that I have spent down there. But I did talk to an Uruguayan novelist and she said Uruguay can't support any writers because the population is small and shrinking. It's the size of England and Scotland and has a population of three million and falling. There is nothing there and all the beef industry is gone and it’s got some wine and that's about it.

RB: No tourism?

MA: The Argies come and have their holidays there, on the cheap. But it suits us and it feels I don't know, your heart lifts when you go there.

RB: And when you touch down at Heathrow?

MA: Horror, yeah.

RB: [laughs]

MA; Coming in through the mist from the train. And you realize that most of the time that you are in London that you are in a state of mild depression. When you go there, you realize that. [pause] Low level, daily depression.

RB: So have you built your house in Montevideo?

MA: Yeah, we are going to hunker down over there.

RB: It’s not even a skip and jump to Buenos Aires, one of the mythical, great cities of the world?

MA: Yeah, it’s a forty-minute flight.

RB: The Argentines seem to be in perpetual tough shit.

MA: Argentina is recovering. Although we went through one day when there was a national strike and just before the [economic] collapse. And Brazil is very volatile and, by the way, there is a huge area of Paraguay and Brazil of Al Queda down there. Whole province of Al Queda.

RB: Ungovernable.

MA: Ungovernable, no go. Meaning no one goes there. But Uruguay is this little jewel of civility even though they suffered when their giant neighbors groan, they groan too. But lots of voluntary stuff, very American like and a unitarian feeling. We got through fine. And unless there is a cataclysm, unless the emigration goes on until there is no one left, it's heaven for us.

an accurate depiction of uruguay

Uruguay's struggle for identity
By Jan Rocha
BBC News, Uruguay

Uruguay is one of the smallest nations in South America and although it is sandwiched between the two colourful giants of the region, Argentina and Brazil, somehow it has maintained its own, more sober identity. Jan Rocha, in the capital Montevideo, has been considering how such a tiny country with almost no industry or natural resources, can make it on its own.

The feeling you often get in Montevideo is that you have entered a time warp.

You have gone back 50 years. Especially if you are coming from noisy, brash Brazil to the north or flamboyant, aggressive Argentina to the south.

In comparison Uruguay seems serious, discreet, low key.

You walk down long streets of shabby single-storey houses, with wooden shutters, wrought-iron balconies; their colours are fading.

Aging plane trees with peeling bark line the pavements.

At a school, the children are wearing the same white pinafores and floppy black ties their parents and their grandparents wore.

Horses go clip-clopping by, pulling carts piled with paper and plastic.

Old-fashioned shops sell old-fashioned clothes. The El Hornero menswear shop offers dressing gowns, warm pyjamas and plaid slippers.


The streets lead straight down to the river Plate, which seems more like a sea, stretching away out of sight.

Uruguay has always been much more egalitarian than most Latin American countries
On the other side is Argentina, Buenos Aires, tango music. Montevideo, in contrast, seems as sedate as a maiden aunt.
With an elderly friend, Marie Esther, I go out to see the suburb she once lived in, 40 years ago.

This is Colon, now rather scruffy, once a fashionable area settled by aristocratic families.

The once elegant little palaces are run down, their gardens overgrown.

Colon is far from the river, because in early days the river was where poor people washed their clothes.

Now the wealthy live as near to the river as they can get, in high-rise apartment blocks along the Rambla.

This is a broad avenue that winds around the edge of the city.

Big moments

At sunset the Rambla fills up with people jogging, walking and fishing. Young people sit on the low walls overlooking the rocky shore, reading books.

They are all drinking, not coke or beer, but mate, the green tea of South America. It is a cosy, placid scene.
But appearances can be misleading. Uruguay has had its big moments.

In 1930, it won the first ever football World Cup. During World War II, Montevideo was the scene of the last real naval battle - without aircraft.

The Battle of the River Plate, as it became known, was fought just a few miles out to sea.

It was so close that Uruguayans raced out along the coastal road in their cars to hear the roar, and see the flash of the guns.

The German warship Graf Spee, scuttled by its captain after being hit by the British, still lies under the water in the river, just 30 feet down.


In the 1960s, the Tupamaros, a left-wing guerrilla group, appeared on the scene.

Inspired by the memory of the European anarchists who had once settled in Uruguay, they kidnapped diplomats, including the British ambassador, raided banks, and made dramatic prison escapes by tunnelling under walls.

But the military took power and Uruguay joined the other South American countries ruled by right-wing generals.

Fear, repression, political prisoners and torture followed.

There are still plenty of reminders of that time in Montevideo. Military installations are everywhere.

In some of them gruesome excavations are now taking place, seeking the remains of political prisoners who disappeared during the dictatorship. One of them was my friend Marie Esther's daughter.

Break with the past

The new President, Tabare Vazquez, has ordered military chiefs to reveal what had happened to the men and women who had disappeared.

Elected by a left wing coalition, President Vazquez, a 65-year-old radiologist, represents a serious break with the past.
For 180 years, presidents came either from the Blancos or the Colorados, the Uruguayan equivalent of liberals and conservatives.

The man he succeeded even had the same name and was the direct descendant of the president who ruled 100 years ago.

Yet in spite of all this tradition, Uruguay has always been much more egalitarian than most Latin American countries.

Almost everybody is literate. Plebiscites are regularly held to decide big political and economic questions. In the last one Uruguayans said "no" to the privatisation of their water.

Priceless asset

President Vazquez promised economic reforms.

He wanted to stem the flow of young people leaving Uruguay to look for work. But so far little has changed. It is not easy.

Uruguay is small, faded maybe, but still altruistic
With such a small population, just over three million people, there is almost no industry.
Uruguay relies on agriculture, and it has not got oil, or gas, or minerals.

Squeezed between the two economic giants of South America, Brazil and Argentina, Uruguay struggles to maintain its identity.

At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, though, they are optimistic, because Uruguay does have something that one day, could be a priceless asset: water.

Along with three of its neighbours, it lies on top of what is probably the world's biggest subterranean reserve of fresh water, the Guarani Aquifer.

Uruguay is small, faded maybe, but still altruistic.

Not only does it hope one day to be able to export this water, but the left-wing government also plans - eventually - to donate water to African countries suffering from drought.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

info on uruguay

check the very bottom of this map and that's where i'll be going. to montevideo.

the second smallest country in south america with a population of 3.2 million. almost half of the population of uruguay is in the capital, montevideo.

The name Uruguay is an indigenous term for "River of Birds".

leaving vancouver on february 3rd at 2:12pm. arriving in chicago at 9:25pm then taking a flight to buenos aires. arriving there at 11:40am the next day! leaving buenos aires at 12:20pm and finally arriving in montevideo at 2:10pm. this is why i've only gone back 3 times since we moved to canada when i was 5.

here's the lonely planet info on uruguay. and here's another more detailed site from the library of congress.

Description of the flag of Uruguay : "nine equal horizontal stripes of white (top and bottom) alternating with blue; there is a white square in the upper hoist-side corner with a yellow sun bearing a human face known as the Sun of May and 16 rays alternately triangular and wavy"

a few things that are unique about uruguay and argentina:

- the spanish language is spoken differently. pollo (chicken) is pronounced Pojo instead of poyo (the way every other spanish speaking person pronounces it)

- the mate

mate is a caffeinated tea that most people drink. it's more common in uruguay to see people walking down the street with a thermos of hot water than it is in argentina. you fill the mate with green tea leaves then just pour some hot water. i don't really like the taste of it but i'll be bringing some for souvenirs!

what does mate do?

it's a traditional herbal medicine
it provides mental clarity
it sustains physical energy
it improves digestion
it promotes balance in the body
it contains antioxidants

- the birth of tango music and dancing.
and the tango icon is carlos gardel. i grew up hearing his music. that's all my dad listened to! it drove me crazy. i would always turn it off. you can watch his videos here those are the early music videos of the 20's.

- the european descent

unlike most latin american countries, over 80% of the population of argentina and uruguay are of european in descent due to massive immigration as well as the eradication of the native population. the government promoted immigration from europe and the dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas exterminated indigenous people to clear land for European settlement. immigration from europe peaked in the late 19th Century and early 20th Century, primarily Spain and Italy.