Planes, trains and automobiles

Planes, trains and automobiles

« Libertad O Muerte », meaning « Freedom or Death », is Uruguay’s official motto. It gives a very passionate image to the country and sounds oddly similar to « Live free or die » from New Hampshire… Coincidence?

While I have not yet gotten the chance to thoroughly meet locals and confirm this passion, I feel like I have partly infiltrated the mysterious South American culture. More on that later.

The flight from Quebec to Newark Liberty International Airport was quite uneventful. That’s when the adventure truly began.

After taking the AIR TRAIN and getting probed a second time by security, I dutifully awaited by the right gate. We eventually boarded the plane, started to taxi, and then: « Ladies and gentlemen, there appears to be a problem with a valve in our right engine. The mechanics are attempting to find a solution. » My thought at that moment: « Ok, we’re changing planes. »

Sure enough, half an hour later: « Ladies and gentlemen, the mechanics have discovered a problem with the flaps, we will be changing planes. » At this point, I already knew I was missing my connecting flight in Sao Paulo. Long story short, I got a free hotel room at the airport, but I arrived Montevideo at 11:45 PM instead of 2:25 PM.

Of course, my first exposure to Uruguayan lifestyle was my taxi ride to the hotel. I must admit 120 km/h in a 60 km/h zone feels pretty fast.

Anyhow, after a brief night of sleep, I attended my first pre-regional meeting sessions (Public Health Training). It was particularly difficult to stay awake, but not because the content was not interesting. We discussed public health, global health, health education and epidemiology, among other topics. I met students from Paraguay, Ecuador, Chile, Mexico, Brasil and Costa Rica.

Everyone is very friendly, as I struggle with the language. I know « Dónde está la comida? », which means « Where is the food? », an essential part of my stay here in uruguay. On that topic, yesterday’s lunch (which consisted of chicken) included a strange organ (I’m going for either pancreas or liver — maybe brain). Yum.

People are drinking a mysterious beverage called Yerba Mate, which is basically cold water poured into a blend of Yerba Mate leaves (smells like mint, haven’t tried it yet though)

My introduction to South American Culture was complete with a Tango and Bachata lesson. I’m looking forward to discovering more.

In terms of my objectives (I feel like I must include this), all I can say is that they are going well, except for talking to Uruguayan students…where are they?

Today, I continue to attend the Public Health training, where we will learn about advocacy and communication.

I conclude with a picture taken from the roof of our hotel!