Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Expo Prado

The Expo Prado is an annual event run by the Rural Association of Uruguay. 2006 is the 101st exposition. It's like a State Fair: competitions, animal shows, food stands, and lots of people. Various businesses, government ministries, and foreign countries have exhibits in buildings around the fairgrounds. The US exhibit features M&Ms and Pringles. It certainly isn't among the most impressive. We only visited a few of the exhibit halls because of the crowds. The newspaper said 140,000 people had visited the exposition in its first four days.

The gauchos (Uruguayan cowboys) were impressive. We watched an event similar to a roping contest at a Western rodeo, except without a lasso. Two gauchos on horseback raced after a running cow, riding close enough to control it and turn it without using ropes. They basically made a sandwich-- two horses with a cow inside-- all at a gallop. Very skillful riding. The gauchos dress distinctively, with high boots and either a beret or a wide-brimmed hat. The heels on the boots are lower than a US cowboy and the hat is more straightforward.

Alongside the exhibits are food stands, just like at the county fair. You could buy hot dogs and cotton candy, but also the excellent local barbecue, hot croissants, and a variety of sweets. Stands also offered agua caliente, hot water, for the mate drinkers to refill their thermoses. Since nearly everyone was sharing a gourd of mate, those were popular vendors.

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