Following from our recent popular blogpost on “ten things I do every week in Britain that I wouldn’t have done in Uruguay”, here comes the most unexpected version… the things that remain the same, here, there (and everywhere?)
1- Hearing people complain about the weather. One thing is guaranteed: people will complain about the (lack of) rain, (too much/lack of) sunshine, the humidity, the dryness, the wind, the storms… and that applies to Uruguayans as well as Brits. A cousin of mine who emigrated from Uruguay to Australia told me “finally somewhere with good weather!” – as if the 25 degrees and clear blue skies of some winter days in Uruguay were so terribly intolerable…
2- Looking forward to the start of the football season. And then quickly looking forward to the end of it… If you want to support a Uruguayan team, may I recommend the Central Uruguayan Railway Cricket Club – known for decades now as Peñarol. But then, I am biased…
3- Have meat and two veg. Kind of a different version, mind you, but still the same concept. Vegetarianism is not particularly strong in South America (see previous blog post) – and a good “asado” with a lettuce, tomato and onion salad (imperfectly fresh and delicious, not some packaged supermarket stuff, if you know what I mean) is my ultimate treat when I go anywhere near the River Plate.
4- Listening to The Beatles. I am a big fan and so are many, many Uruguayans, who could impress Brits with their knowledge and passion for the Fab Four.
5- Going to a pub with friends. Pubs have been gaining popularity in Uruguay, see for example The Shannon Irish Pub in Montevideo. I am personally not convinced about their authenticity (husband complained that in an Irish pub in Montevideo there was a picture of John Lennon, which he feels was out of place) and I don’t think they fulfil the same role as in the UK, but they do evidence a strong like of most things “British” (take note and make the most of it!). And they are good sociable places that have provided something different particularly for those in their 20s, 30s and 40s.
6- Admiring the beautiful scenery of rolling hills populated by sheep. Plenty of sheep. I live in stunning North Yorkshire, and although some of the landscape is quintessentially English (Postman Pat land, if you can picture it), it has a strong resemblance to the Uruguayan countryside. Not in vain Uruguay and the UK are respectively the 7th and 8th largest producers of raw wool in the world (The Economist, 2008).
7- Buy gifts. We have a similar tradition when it comes to gifts (although our approach to gift-wrapping differs, see previous blog), and I don’t think any British person would feel out of place in terms of gift-giving at a Uruguayan wedding, birthday party, baptism or other occasion. Two big differences are that the availability of cards for different occasions is very limited (business opportunity here, so take note!) – and lilies are mainly for funerals.
8- Stay loyal to the principle of going global locally. Whether I am there or here, I know the world is one and I believe in the power of international trade. I also believe in supporting local producers and local talent. You know the UK examples, for Uruguay, see for example Hecho Acá.
9- Dream about a holiday in Brazil. Who doesn’t? Package holidays to Brazil from Uruguay are the equivalent of package holidays to Spain from the UK. See a list of packages from my favourite Uruguayan travel agents here.
10- Shop. Just couldn’t avoid that one. I love shopping and so do most Uruguayan women – we love the same things British women love and we fall for the same brands (when available). See for example the Punta Carretas Shopping Centre in Montevideo and the Portones Shopping Centre. And I am not ignoring men here: one of these shopping centres opened a waiting area for “husbands” and a crèche for the little ones… they clearly know their market!
I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog post. The old cliché “people buy from people” still applies – so when you do business in South America don’t forget… you are still dealing with people! Happy exporting.