Saturday, April 17, 2010


The Invisible Mountain

The Invisible Mountain
Carolina de Robertis

"There were strange things about this city. Amethysts used as doorstops, leather used for everything, a stone wall between Old City and New. An obsession with the president, a man called Batlle y Ordóñez, who had promised schools, and workers' rights, and hospitals (secular ones, scandalously so, with crucifixes banned from the walls). All the laborers Ignazio worked with-- even the immigrants, of which there were many-- spoke of Batlle the way Italians spoke of the pope. These men were also obsessed with mate: a brew of shredded leaves and hot water, concocted in a hollow gourd, then drunk through a metal straw called a bombilla. They drank it as if their lives depended on it, and maybe their lives did, sucking at the bombillas on their high steel beams, pouring water while awaiting the next crate, passing the gourd from hand to calloused hand. The first time he was offered mate, Ignazio was shocked by the assumption that he should share a cup. He was eighteen, after all, a grown man. He thought of refusing, but he didn't want the others to think him afraid of tea. The gourd felt warm against his palm. The wet green mass inside it gleamed. The drink flooded his mouth, bright and green and bitter, the taste, he thought, of Uruguay."

I would have missed this book, except a blog reader recommended it to me. The Invisible Mountain is a novel about a Uruguayan family. Crossing four generations, the story personalizes many aspects of Uruguay's history: immigration, the growth of Montevideo, economic boom & bust, the dictatorship. At times, it's harsh-- not suitable for kids-- and in places it's strange, but overall it added a dimension to my understanding of the country.

I read a library copy, but it's also available from booksellers like Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Thanks to Michael for the recommendation.

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Saturday, April 03, 2010


More Uruguay resources

Many of the Uruguay blogs I'd been reading have ended as expats moved from the country.

Recently, I've been following Ola Uruguay Real Estate-- not so much for the real estate propaganda, but for the posts on living in Uruguay by Suki and Syd.

Another informative website is Uruguay Now, an up-to-date guide to the country, with an emphasis on Montevideo.

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