When I moved there were certain things I was sure I would miss like Publix supermarkets and my local Chinese restaurant. However there were other things that I’m doing surprisingly well without. The list is divided between things I thought I’d miss before coming here and things I didn’t realize I wouldn’t miss until I got here.
If there’s one chore I hate it’s loading and unloading the dishwasher. There’s just something about it that frustrates the hell out of me. When we first got to Uruguay I realized that dishwashers aren’t as common as they are in the United States. I used to think that if I hated a machine washing my dishes then I couldn’t imagine being happy having to wash dishes by hand. Much to my surprise I actually prefer washing dishes by hand than I ever did using a dishwasher. My dishes are much cleaner, hardly any water spots and dishes get cleaned right away as opposed to piling up in the sink.
2.Big Box supermarkets
Yes there are big box supermarkets in Uruguay, however I don’t like shopping there much. The produce isn’t as fresh as buying from an outside vendor and I get better deals on protein buying it from a butcher. Their “artisanal”breads leave something to be desired so I usually buy it from a bakery. Living in my small town is what I imagine it must have been like pre-1950s in the United States. Don’t get me wrong, I miss Target so much but for every day shopping I prefer buying locally.
3. Fast food
Oh my word, I was a frequent patron of fast food establishments when living in the States. I’m talking about I went to Wendy’s or McDonald’s twice a day. I was worse than an American statistic. I’m not proud of that. When I moved to Uruguay I realized that while yes they have McDonald’s and Burger King it is only in shopping malls or in Montevideo. Meaning, if I wanted to grab some McD’s I would need to travel an hour and a half to get some. Needless to say I have managed to survive without those golden arches.
I’m not going to say I don’t watch television anymore because that would be a lie. But when I moved to Uruguay I thought that finding something to watch in English would be next to impossible. Luckily it isn’t as most TV shows aren’t dubbed but subtitled. Not only do I lack time to watch TV but seasons are so off from what’s currently airing in the States that I just don’t bother. I mean, they JUST started airing How I Met Your Mother. I will say though I really miss watching HGTV.
5. The “big” city
Before leaving Miami, I knew we would be moving to a farm. I pictured small towns of twenty people, miles of wheat and red barn houses. I was already missing my suburban life before stepping foot on the plane. After being here for a year and a half and having returned to Miami I can say I wholeheartedly never want to return. I like our town of 6,000+ inhabitants and I like that I can scream as loud as I want and my neighbors can’t hear me. My daughter has 40 acres of land to run around on and plenty of animals to entertain her. There are some aspects of city living I miss like an abundance of ethnic food restaurants and things being open past 6:00pm but overall I’ve fallen in love with small town living.
To my fellow expats, is there anything you thought you’d miss that you find yourselves making due without? I’d love to hear about them!
Be on the lookout for my follow up post to this, “The ___ things I didn’t know I’d miss…” coming soon!
This is our second summer in Uruguay. We haven’t really gotten accustomed to the summer traditions such as flocking to the beach or going out without globs of sunscreen on. Most people are actually surprised when we aren’t out at the beach or enjoying the sun but in my view it’s just TOO HOT to do it!
I’m originally from Florida so going out in the humid summer heat is something I’m definitely used to but a Uruguayan summer is in another league. The heat is intense and the sun is killer–literally, skin cancer rates in Uruguay are high due to a thin o-zone and the ridiculous cost of sunscreen–making me all the more comfortable to stay inside with my AC blasting. Sure this summer isn’t as bad as last, we’ve been in the steady mid 80s/30s. Last summer we were in the 100s/40s for most of the summer meaning I definitely was NOT leaving my house unless a) it was on fire or b) they were handing out free ice cream. And seeing how they did neither, my bum was firmly planted in front of the AC.
I would LOVE to go to the beach, and take PJ to play in the sand and water. But we live about two hours away from the beach. By the time the sun isn’t so brutal–about 4:00 or 5:00pm–I’m too tired to make the drive there and back. Maybe next year we’ll go to Cabo Polonio or La Paloma, but for right now we’re okay enjoying the heat from the farm.
This was our second Christmas in Uruguay. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to spending the holidays in the summer but I don’t really have much of a choice.
Most Hispanics will tell you that REAL Christmas is on December 24th, aka “Noche Buena,” and the 25th is really just a day to recuperate from all the drinking and eating the night before. In Miami I used to spend Noche Buena, again like most Hispanics, bouncing from house to house. I would always start with dinner at my house, then head to my in-laws houses, and proceeding to go to my husbands extended families houses. It was a long night of eating and trying to gauge on how to stay sober enough to drive (this was obviously pre-baby).
Christmas in Uruguay, while yes they celebrate the 24th, is a bit different. The 24th is dedicated to spending time with family but the real party starts on the 25th. At midnight they shoot off fireworks and open their presents from Santa, aka “Papá Noel,” and do whatever else they do. I wouldn’t know what they do after the fireworks because I’ve been in bed by the time the fireworks go off two years running. On the 25th they usually have barbecues with friends and spend the time talking and eating. Some families spend their day at the beach or lounging in their inflatable pools.
Since summer starts a few days before Christmas here, a lot of people spend their Christmas on vacation in Punta del Este or Brazil. Lounging on beaches and enjoying the sun doesn’t really FEEL like Christmas to ME but I’m sure most people on the north side of the equator would feel the same.
This year while sure we ate our traditional Cuban meal of lechón with white rice and black beans, it just didn’t feel like Christmas. I can say that I loved that Paloma loved her gifts. This year we got her a slide, puzzles, one of those pull string walking toys and a scoot car toy. I love her reaction every time she goes down the slide! She laughs and laughs and has now tried climbing UP the slide. I would have taken pictures but let’s be real I was too busy trying to control my panic attack. Christmas morning we had breakfast and watched Disneys A Christmas Carol and Home Alone. Home Alone was the first movie Paloma actually sat and watched the WHOLE thing. She’s got great taste.
It was nice to spend time with my family without worrying about other things, which at the end of the day is what the holidays are about.
Keeping up with friends is hard when you live in the same city. Imagine how hard it is when you live 4,000+ miles and a different time zone away from each other.
I don’t know about you, but I come from a culture that puts a lot of value on friendships so I spent a lot of time the first few months here in Uruguay talking to my friends as much as I possibly could. Sure, I hadn’t delivered Paloma yet meaning I had tons of free time on my hands. A lot of my friendships were already long distance. My best friend Lauren lives in Gainesville, FL (about 5 hours away from Miami), my sorority twin lived in Philadelphia at the time going to law school, and even though my great friend Rachel lived in Miami she was still about an hours drive away from where I lived.
There’s nothing like moving to a different country to see who you’re true friends are. I’m blessed enough to know that I chose my friends right because almost a year and a half after moving, those girls are still the ones I talk to most. But it’s hard. Normally I’d be there for the BIG events like promotion-at-work dinners, figuring-out-what-to-do-with-life drinks, i-hate-my-boyfriend couch nights, or just hey-i-miss-you brunches. However, I’m not there now and they’re not here. The big moments are when you feel the void the most.
I remember giving birth to Paloma at the hospital–a story for another day–and seeing the other mothers getting showered with gifts and flowers to welcome their bundle of joy. While we were blessed enough to have my family in the country with us, we didn’t have anyone else to celebrate with. But I remember coming home to messages from my friends begging me to Skype so they could see Paloma. It was so nice to see friendly faces excited about my baby. Those tiny moments meant more to me than the short “Congratulations!” I got from Facebook friends who were at one time “real” friends.
There will be other big moments that we’ll miss in each others lives, but knowing that someone somewhere has your back when they could have easily faded out of your life is a nice thought to hold on to.