Friday, December 01, 2006


Street Names

I had real trouble remembering street names in Montevideo when we first arrived in Uruguay. Part of it was the length of the names. Almost any street named after a person uses both the first name and the last name and frequently a title or two. Remembering just the first name doesn't help the cab driver find your hotel.

Major streets are commonly referred to by just the apellido (last name) but the street signs include all the names and titles. Sometimes this can be important. Ellauri is a fairly big street in our neighborhood (leading to Punta Carretas Shopping) and its full name is Jose E. Ellauri. There is a sidestreet near the zoo, also named Ellauri: Placido Ellauri.

Many of the streets are named after famous Uruguayans, but they weren't familiar names to me. After a while, I learned that names like Artigas or Rivera are the equivalent of Washington or Jackson. Some names are still unfamiliar like, President and General Óscar Diego Gestido. (Of course that's true in the U.S. as well. Westnedge Avenue is a major street in Kalamazoo but I didn't know it was named for Colonel Joseph Burchnall Westnedge until I started writing this post.)

The other street names that gave me problems were the dates. 21 de Setiembre, 8 de Octubre, 26 de Marzo all sounded about the same to me. My Uruguyan history still isn't good enough to tell you what happened on those dates, but now I can remember which street has the headquarters of the Club Nacional.

I'm glad our street is La Rambla.

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8 de octubre: fue la fecha en que se firmó la finalización de la "Guerra Grande", la guerra civil del Uruguay. La "paz de octubre" fue firmada, justamente, el 8 de ocutbre de 1851 y por eso el nombre de la calle.
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