Uruguay part 1 : The Capitol

I used to be the type of girl that if someone said it was fun to jump off a bridge into a dark cave, I would say, “race you down!”.  As I have grown up,  I like the comfort of my home: the calmness that I know & a routine that keeps me aligned with my goals. But every now and again, the travel bug gets too strong to ignore. Travel reignites something in my soul that gets lost in the everyday hustle. I hadn’t taken a holiday since I opened the store, and as much as I do actually love working 7 days a week, I needed a break from the realities of owning a small business.

(Get the Look: Emma Fenwick + Middlebury Sweater)

I hate to admit this, but when Aaron gave me my Christmas gift, a trip to Uruguay, I was not jumping up and down with joy. I was hesitant. I never traveled to South America, never heard anything about Uruguay, and questioned our safety. Aaron travels to places for food, chefs & restaurants.  Uruguay has produced some of South America’s  greatest restaurants & chefs so I knew why he wanted to go but I on the other hand was reluctant & wasn’t  convinced it was my kind of place! He persuaded me with one simple word- beach ! With that I agreed and we jetted down south for a winter escape, I will never forget.

(Get the Look: Emma Fenwick + Middlebury Sweater)

If I had to describe Uruguay in one word it would be “Tranquility”. The serenity in the country is simply contagious. For a Type A personality like myself, it is hard to relax. My brain has a difficult time slowing down. I am constantly on the move because my body refuses to sit still, and I need my mind to be stimulated or I get lost in my own thoughts. I am not sure if it is the purity of the air, the smiles on everyone's faces, the seemingly lack of schedules or the beautiful historic scenery but the Uruguayan lifestyle took me over! I simply fell in love with this country!

(Pictured: Emma Stealth jeans.Other Emma washes available @ the Jean Bar )

Our first stop was the capital and Uruguay’s largest city, Montevideo. We stayed in the Old City, as it was right next to one of our food touring stops, Jacinto. Jacinto’s chef & owner, Chef Lucía Soria, is a protege of Argentina's celebrity chef Francis Mallmann. Supporting a female in a male dominated industry, I was happy to oblige Aaron and try out this spot. One meal is all I needed to be hooked to Chef Lucia Soria & her concept. Jacinto is a classic neighborhood joint that I wish was transplanted to the South End of Boston.  Uruguay’s food scene is far ahead of Boston’s. Farm to table is not a fad, it is the only way they know. {for all you gluten freers like myself every menu had para celíacos “for celiacs”} Uruguay has very high import taxes, creating a food scene that uses only locally sourced ingredients. Frederico, on chef that we met  in La Barra {one beach area}, has a farm & a beer distillery that provides produce, meat, & beer for his two restaurants and other restaurants in the capital…. Talk about a hustler…

I would obviously be doing everyone a disservice if I didn’t mention one IMPORTANT aspect of my trip… SHOPPING! I mean after all,  I do own a store so this was market research… or that is at least what I told Aaron after we frequented the 10th store on our first day. I don’t want to give too much away as I am hoping to bring in a few new designers from both Uruguay and Argentina to Sloane & Ivy!  The quality of the textiles is superior to what you can find here. Most of my shopping was done at my favorite little beach town of Manantiales (see future post on part 2: the beach).


(Quays & hats will be restocked for Spring & Summer) 

As good as the food was, it was the people who made the city come to life, that stole my heart.. Every corner was lit up with vibrant and beautiful street art -covering the city. Artists from around the country brighten up Montevideo. The streets were filled with families until well passed my bedtime. While walking back from dinner (that started at 11 pm) or after a night cap at a local bar, kids of all ages were playing and walking around with their families. Strict schedules are far from the parent’s mind in this city. They focus more on  happiness and their kids living life to the fullest rather than being tied down to a time table. As you walk down the street, no matter what time it is, you are bound to run into someone you knew or recognized.

Material objects, like who has the most expensive car, are not important here. Instead, it is all about people and the connections you make. Multiple times on this trip we were taken into someone’s life as if we were family. Closing down the restaurant or having drinks at sunset, speaking our Spanglish, we began to understand & relate to one another. We  all have similarities when it comes to love, life, and struggles, yet it is our differences that can teach and bind us together. One night after making friends with the owners of the AMAZING restaurant, es mercart (hands down the best Black Sea Bass I have ever had),  I was complaining about… well something… isn’t there always something to complain about?  I said I was jealous of the Uruguayan life that seemed to be stress free. He stopped me and said “you are healthy, correct? You do not have terminal illness” I responded cynically & sarcastically - something that does not translate from language to language. And before I could even rephrase he began to speak and his words stayed with me for the rest of the trip. “If you are not sick, or a loved one is not sick, then you have nothing to complain about. Life is the only thing that matters and the more you complain the more you take away from life little by little. If you are not sick, than what is there to complain about, you are wasting time energy and love on something that does not matter, as it is not life.” That, I believe, really is the true essence of Uruguay. There is nothing that matters more in life than life itself and everyday they make the best of it. They use every ounce of the day and fill it with the things that matter the most: family, love, & of course food.

Next we were off to the beach… #staytuned.



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