I really wanted to start with a picture of one of the candombe groups here but my camera is currently broke and I have just seen an amazing photo of something else, so I feel that will have to take precedence!
That’s one big cashew tree. It’s up in the north of Brazil somewhere. It produces 2.5 tonnes of cashew nuts every year. I feel pretty certain I must have eaten one of its little fruits at some point in my life, especially in my cashew heyday! I really feel like I should see if there are any jobs going at the Cashew Nut Marketing Board in England because I really feel like they’re missing some tricks. First, it turns out that there are cashew fruits as well, now there’s a tree that’s the size of the park. I’ve never wanted a cashew nut more!
Right, so I was actually gonna write about Uruguay but I’ve been getting a bit sidetracked! It’s all been Brazil and nuts so far, so I will get back on track.
It’s my second week in Montevideo now and the pace of life here as well as the people are absolutely perfect. At one million people it must be one of the smaller capitals in South America, plus most people have gone on holiday to the beach this month, which all means that the streets remain a notable sense of calm. That is, until the candombe starts, which seems to happen at 7pm most nights in a few of the neighbourhoods here and on Sunday happens for most of the day all over the place. Generally a bunch of 20 or so people banging three different types of drums in a sound that doubtless shares some similarities with samba. When it’s properly organised there’s also a group of dancers and performers, my favourite being the old man who normally does a great geriatric dance at the front. When carnival happens next months no doubt all these people will be out in force to parade the streets. We’ve already had one major procession, which was the parade of wise men last week, and there’s something really nice about the carnival here. It seems to lack the craziness of Brazil or even Notting Hill (I’m not even going to mention Nottingham carnival) but not the euphoria as everyone involved or watching seems to be having the times of their lives. As well as this being down to the fact that everyone is pretty laid back, and there’s not that many people to start with any, I think this is also due to the fact that it’s legal to smoke marijuana here, which means that dotted all along the route is the smell of green, emanating from all manner of different sources, old ladies sitting in deck chairs being the most surprising.
This country is fast becoming one of my favourites in South America, up there with Ecuador. There’s no hiding that the mindset in the smaller countries seems to fit my own so much better, and boy is it something of a relief to leave Argentina. I met some great people there, but I was also getting extremely tired of some of the arrogance there. Their feeling of superiority over Uruguay is shocking. I really hope I don’t act that same way about Wales! It is strange though in Argentina how they constantly talk about how beautiful Patagonia is yet hardly any people from the North travel there, and in fact more go to Uruguay, where they visit to enjoy the beaches, but yet hardly any of them speak glowingly of this place. Nationalism. Boy do I hate it!
Now they better have some cashew nuts in the supermarket…