Eating False Goats in a Ghost Town in Uruguay

If I am being honest, I wasn’t really all that bothered about going to Uruguay at first. It just seemed to be like an ever so slightly inferior version of Argentina to my mind. It turned out that I was wrong.

I was in Buenos Aires and was trying to work out where to go next when I realised that the ferry across to Uruguay would take me to somewhere called Colonia Del Sacramento. I love travelling in boats and I love going to places I have never heard of before,  so I decided that maybe it was time to give Uruguay a fair crack of the whip after all.

First Impressions of a Ghost Town

ColoniaIt was a Tuesday when I arrived to Colonia Del Sacramento on the boat. My first impressions were that it was like a ghost town on a particularly quiet day during the low season.  I barely passed another person all morning, which was a bit of a shock to the system after the crowded streets of Buenos Aires.

The lady who owned the hotel I was staying in told me that the place is incredibly popular at the weekend and on holidays, with day trippers from Buenos Aires taking over the town. However, on the days I was there I saw very few people who looked like tourists. The Uruguayan accent is very similar to the Buenos Aires one, so I couldn’t tell just by listening to people whether they were from there or had made the trip across on the ferry like me.


A Bloody History

chivoIt turned out that this was a great way to see the whole town in just a few hours, as I had the main attractions all to myself. Despite being such a sleepy looking place, Colonia has a bloody history, as it changed hands between the Portuguese and Spanish a number of times following long battles. Today you can still see some of the fortifications and cannons which remind us of how violent life here used to be. Nowadays, the only thing to startle me was when an ancient looking car appeared out of nowhere on the cobbled street and nearly knocked me over while I was taking pictures.

The food is always a highlight in a new country and I was left baffled by the first menu I saw in Uruguay. I had kind of gotten used to the menus in Argentina but here they use different names for the foods. My eye was caught be something called chivito at the top of the page, which I had never come across before. A sly look at my dictionary under the table told me that this was little goat. The thought of eating a baby goat wasn’t all that appetising but I plucked up the courage to try it. It tasted pretty good and nothing like what I had expected. It didn’t even taste all that goaty. I later discovered that it’s not really goat at all but a cut of beef. I l came across the same thing on the menu in other parts of the country, so it seems to be a classic national dish here. I have no idea why it is called chivito but then I have no idea why Bombay Duck, Welsh Rabbit and Hot Dogs are called what they are. They just are.

Overall, Colonia is probably just a little bit too laid back for most people during the week. Unless you are completely burned out and in need of total peace and quiet I would reckon that a weekend trip there would make more sense. Just don’t forget to try the false goat while you are there.

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