I Heart Uruguay

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Last night two new friends and I attended an art sale and fundraiser in support of the non-profit for which Mom’s friend volunteers. Since everything here is new for me, I’m never really sure what to expect. To my delight, the location and art event were quite nice. I liked the donated paintings very much, even if I didn’t like the $300 to $650 cost of each. And the background music provided by an older American couple singing such hits as Mr. Bojangles and The Rose made me chuckle and kept me entertained.

After about an hour, we decide to kill time before the raffle drawing by snooping around the exclusive club. First we head downstairs but are stopped by a guard. “Are you members?” he asks in Spanish. “No, we’re just looking for a place to sit,” immediately lies Friend Number 1. “You can ask the servers in your salon to provide you with chairs.” Humph. “Can I use the elevator?” I ask since it’s located towards the back of the foyer and offers an opportunity to at least peek down each corridor. “Yes,” says the guard, knowing it’s not cool to deny someone the use of an elevator and off we go.Once upstairs, undeterred in our exploration, we decide to enter a salon where the Consulate of Uruguay is hosting a wine tasting. We pop in hoping no one notices we weren’t invited and make our way around several tables loaded with bottles of imported wine and other tasty treats like Brie and Camembert, provided by companies introducing their products to Panama. I stop at one table and notice a cool, empty, green glass bottle that usually holds milk. Since I’m already pushing my luck, I decide to push it a bit further, which I do quite a lot here. Due to not being fluent in Spanish, people’s words don’t land on me quite the same way they would in English. Assuming I can understand what they’re saying, regular conversation tends to not have the same impact as in the States. Plus, I’m really good at playing dumb and pretending I don’t understand or didn’t know the rules, so I’m sort of extra fearless here which is fun.

Anyway, I ask Cute, Young Uruguayan Company Rep if I can buy the green bottle. He tells me to wait a minute, goes over to someone else to ask a question, and returns. He then gives me the beautiful bottle for free. I love free stuff so much that I am giddy with excitement — and, admittedly, buzzed from the wine. Cute Rep also gives Friend Number 1 a smaller version of the same bottle and offers all three of us Uruguayan grappa to taste. It’s delicious. At this point, Cute Rep Number 2 comes over and starts chatting with us as well. Friend Number 2 and I decide we’re not going to tell people there what we do — that we’re with Friend Number 1 who works with the canal and therefore has a much more plausible reason for being invited to the event. But it doesn’t come up. We just each cheese, drink wine and chat with Cute Reps for the remainder of the evening. None of us won the art raffle but we all had a great time touring the club and butting in where we didn’t belong. Now I need to plan a trip to Uruguay.

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