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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.

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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.

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140 years on, the town's ambitions are suggested by its boulevard, but its reality is revealed by the bordering shops.

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One of the most prominent sells stuff to make people feel safer.

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A newesh house with a stylish fence.

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Here's how people used to get to Montevideo, 18 miles away.

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The old station.

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Here's how they make the journey now. On the right is a self-propelled diesel rail car, permanently parked.

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Here's another of Piria's optimistic ventures.

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The station is terminally quiet.

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And you thought that only American developers built the same thing over and over. Nope. Here's Progreso's Avenida Brasil.

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Here's the plaza of Sauce, a town between Suarez and Progresso.

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The surrounding shops are one-story affairs.

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More of the same.

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The country is full of tiny fruit and vegetable shops.

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Still, it's not a ghost town, and new houses are being added on the fringe.

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Beyond the fringe, all three towns are set in farm country.

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And in a farming culture.

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This was a Sunday event outside Progreso.

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The mood was easy-going.

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Some people were dressed casually.

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Others traditionally.

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And elegantly.

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One horse short.

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Never too young.

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Gaucho in the making.

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What was the gathering for?

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Maybe in our next life we'll speak enough Spanish to find out.



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