What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
Punta del Diablo
How long have you lived there?
5 months, buying/building a home now
What activities, clubs and organizations would you recommend to newcomers to help them meet others?
First of all, learn some Spanish, preferably Castellano (Castile, Spain) instead of the Mexican version... They will understand YOU, but you may not understand THEM... Many TV shows here are in English with Spanish subtitles... It helps, believe me, especially with grammar.
We have one Canadian couple here and one crusty old Irishman... Those are the only expats we have met in our tiny fishing village of 1,000 souls... This agrees with us PERFECTLY, as we want to assimilate, not hang with expats.
I would recommend just chatting the local up - your grocery clerk, the fellow who fills the tank for your car at the Ancap station, the meat man (prime rib is always in the meat locker, seldom out front). We have made friends of a family who own a wine/cheese shop in the town where we buy our groceries... They love to practice their English while we practice our Spanish.
My dentist has just returned from a trip to British Columbia to do a work/study tour on a boat up there. He practices his English with me & I practice my Spanish with him...
We have been so well received & made welcome, I may eventually offer English classes for adults...
My best advice is not to be shy and simply venture "Buen dia" occasionally until you feel more comfortable. Undoubtably, someone will eventually try to engage you in conversation on the bus or at the market. If they speak to fast for you to understand, simply request "mas lentamente, por favor" & they will slow down. I had to retrain my ears to the Castellano, altho I had grown up speaking Tex/Mex and Mexican Spanish.
Just be yourself, be courteous & respectful, smile & the world will open up for you.
Be aware that here we don't say "Adios" but, rather, "Ciao!" Schnitzel is Milanesa here... Germans may have invented it, but the Italians immigrated first, so there ya go... :D
One of the BEST places to meet people is the local futbol matches and/or practices. Uruguayans are rabid futbol fans, and will quickly try to persuade you to root for their favorite teams... ;p
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In terms of religious, racial, economic and cultural diversity, are the people of this city or town diverse? Are they accepting of differences? Describe.
I have yet to experience any racial discrimination here in UY. I am a true Heinz 57 - Native American, Scots/Irish with some Russian Gypsy Jew, and Texas redneck... My partner is Filipino & German.
Uruguayans come in a wide range of skin tones & hair textures. People are not referred to as "black" or "white," but just as... people.
Mixed-race couples are everywhere, if you judge by skin tones; however, you find out eventually that BOTH are native Uruguayans.
The principal religion is Catholicism; however, they are not rabid about religiosity. They attend Christmas, Easter, funerals, weddings, christenings. Religion is a personal matter, between a person & his/her higher power - that is all.
That said, I find it amusing that they refer to the Mormons as "huevos," because they are always found in twos... :D
I have found all the Uruguayo cities I have visited to be very accepting of foreigners, which I obviously am due to my Texas twang...
Here in PDD, this is even more pronounced, as this is a village dependent upon tourism, so tourists are VALUED. Stick around awhile, make some friends, let the people steal your heart like they did ours...
Economic diversity - well, there are some rather wealthy & some not wealthy in money but wealthy in quality of life. I have made friends with some Rastas and other locals who make their living by selling their handicrafts during tourist season. What more does one need in this life, they ask, other than a dry bed, a warm fire in winter, good wine & good friends to share it with? Answer: good music & the lovely environment here.
What are the main industries in this city? What types of career opportunities commonly exist? How do most people find new jobs?
Most jobs here at the moment are in construction, as our village is growing. Most of the construction going on is for rental properties for the tourist trade, rather than personal housing...
Many people find employment with the hotels, restaurants, or as musicians. One friend of ours is a fish cook in summer and does bricklaying & concrete work in winter... ;p
In general, what are peoples' priorities in this city? For example, do lives revolve around work, family, socializing, sports, etc.?
Family is the MOST important consideration here. Raising kids on pure air, clean water, unprocessed foods (keeping them from eating too many sweets) are all high priorities.
Life is not a race here. Relax, take five minutes instead of one - they're small. :D
The parilla is an EVENT, not a meal. It's a chance for family & friends to get together around the grill for nice conversation while the kids run around, a few delicious bites, a glass or two of excellent wine...
Our village is centered around two things: tourism & fishing. One feeds the other & vice-versa.
The one word that ALWAYS comes up in conversations about Punta del Diablo is "que tranquilo," which, of course, it IS.
Everyone is relaxed... I found myself relaxing immediately. Anything that can't be finished today will certainly be waiting for you tomorrow. I doubt, when I stand before my Maker, that I will regret not having spent more time cleaning house or washing dishes. Rather, time with friends on the beach fishing or taking the sun, enjoying one another's company is a high priority for me.
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If a friend of yours was thinking of moving to this city or town from far away, what other advice would you give them.
Bring flip-flops. Bring your favorite condiments, especially if you like spicy foods.
Leave heavy coats behind, as winter only lasts about 3 months & spring is usually beautiful. That said, bone up on your fire-tending skills, as most home heating is by wood fire... If you split your own wood, you can buy it cheaper. Make friends with a good firewood vendor.
Bring earmuffs for winter, as we do have a lot of wind (the Pamperos). Bring comfy pants with lots of pockets for shells, etc. when you hit the beach.
ALWAYS save your empty beer bottles, as you get a 10- to 15-peso discount when you return the "dead soldiers" as you purchase more beer. Same with wine - returning the bottles (esp. the 5-liter bottles) saves you 165 pesos or so (about $8.50).
Get the tri-fold maps from an Ancap station. Worth every penny of the $10, they have a map of UY, another of all the MercoSur countries, a map of Montevideo, and city street maps of all of the major cities... PDD is not listed, as we have only one main road through town... ;p
Be prepared to be unprepared for the welcome you receive, the wonderful food & wine, the genuinely friendly people. We have found our new home, for sure.
Lay out your trips in advance & plan to use the least fuel possible... Gas is about $8/gallon, so we use it well. We bought a 1968 VW Bug for $3500 USD. She's economical, reliable & parts are cheap as dirt.
We bought an engine belt, new fuel lines, fuel filter, new seatbelts, and a new door knob for only $10. The fuel lines & filter were installed curbside at no additional cost. We had the resistor for the windshield wipers changed out curbside & were given a handful of extra fuses. The labor took 2 hours, but the total cost was $16.
Learn to use propane. It's one of the things they do best here. Exchange of a 33-lb cylinder is only $16. The 2-lb cylinder for the gas stove in the kitchen costs $5.
If you plan to immigrate, come down during the fall & stay thru the winter, so you know what you're getting into. You will probably be pleasantly surprised - we were. Now that we're hooked, we're buying property & starting building a home.
Buy a cell phone from Antel, the govt phone company. A mid-range phone with camera & MP3 player, Bluetooth, and internet will set you back $26, with $5/month for service. :D
Try the Uruguayo products. We have found many to be superior to brands we used in the US.
If you have allergies, plan to obtain some antihistamines & decongestants from a farmacia here. You can get Loratadine cheaply for the first; you can still get pseudoephedrine down here without being spread-eagled outside the pharmacy.
If you have health issues & are on regular medications, most are available over the counter without prescription here.
Put off any dental work until you get here - it's incredibly high quality, latest technology, and incredibly cheap... I had a cracked molar that eventually broke, losing 25% of the back corner. Mario, my fabulous dentist, my hero - fixed it for $40 USD.
Be prepared to be amazed at how little govt interference these people have in their lives. Be prepared to make friends with the police. They are not at all the threatening thugs one fears in the US.