Notes on the Geography of Uruguay: Montevideo's Rural Periphery
Small towns are down on their luck in many countries, and Uruguay's no exception. Still, people are tenacious.
Here's the main street of Joaquin Suarez. The name belongs to the longest serving president of Uruguay, but Suarez served during a rough period (1843-52), when the president's writ extended no further than Montevideo. Still, in 1882 when a nationally prominent developer named Francisco Piria decided to float a town on the outskirts of Montevideo, the name Suarez seemed sufficiently patriotic.
140 years on, the town's ambitions are suggested by its boulevard, but its reality is revealed by the bordering shops.
One of the most prominent sells stuff to make people feel safer.
A newesh house with a stylish fence.
Here's how people used to get to Montevideo, 18 miles away.
The old station.
Here's how they make the journey now. On the right is a self-propelled diesel rail car, permanently parked.
Here's another of Piria's optimistic ventures.
The station is terminally quiet.
And you thought that only American developers built the same thing over and over. Nope. Here's Progreso's Avenida Brasil.
Here's the plaza of Sauce, a town between Suarez and Progresso.
The surrounding shops are one-story affairs.
More of the same.
The country is full of tiny fruit and vegetable shops.
Still, it's not a ghost town, and new houses are being added on the fringe.
Beyond the fringe, all three towns are set in farm country.
And in a farming culture.
This was a Sunday event outside Progreso.
The mood was easy-going.
Some people were dressed casually.
One horse short.
Never too young.
Gaucho in the making.
What was the gathering for?
Maybe in our next life we'll speak enough Spanish to find out.
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