Thoughts of a Uruguay Fútbolista

Joe found this wonderful letter that Uruguay football player Edinson Cavani wrote to his younger self,  it is worth a read.

Dear nine-year-old Edinson, 
I am writing these lines to the boy that everyone in the neighborhood calls “Pelado”. 
When you were a baby you did not have too much hair. And it grew to you very little by little. A shit, but there was not much you could do about it. So, thanks to the creativity of your family, you were always “Pelado”.
Well, I’m happy to tell you that in the next 20 years, football will change your life in many ways. Some very good, others not so much. But football is going to help you get rid of that tedious nickname. 
There is a player named Gabriel Batistuta. You still do not know, because the only program you have the patience to sit and watch on TV is called Tom & Jerry. Your eldest brother, Nando, will be the first to be inspired by Batistuta. He will start to refuse to go to the hairdresser. And to use the conditioner for your mother’s hair. And little by little, it will begin to look like the magnificent Batigol every time. When you are running on a playground, with your long hair pulled back and held by a rubber band, it will be the best you have seen.
The time will come when it will be you who will tell your mother: “No more haircuts.” 
You live your life outside, with a ball in your feet. In the South American way. You do not know anything else. And also, what is there to do inside? Nothing funny. Nothing interesting. There is no PlayStation. There is no big TV. You do not even have to take a hot shower. There is no heating either. In winter, your heating system will be four blankets. When you need to take a bath, you will have a thermos with water that you will heat in the kitchen to kerosene. It is very important to understand how to combine cold and hot water. Standing in the bathtub, you will learn to be an alchemist.
And yet, this will be a luxury for you. Or do not you remember your first house? The one that did not have a bathroom. That house where every time you had to relieve yourself, you had no choice but to walk outside and go to the small shed! 
Can you let me tell you a secret? When I remember that image now, I do not feel bad at all. For some reason, it fills me with energy. It gives me courage. It is a beautiful memory. 
Do not worry about what you have in the house. You have to keep living your life in the sun, Pelado.
Also, what is the reason for having soccer posters stuck on the wall? Every two or three years, when you change jobs or your family can not pay the rent, you will have to move to another place. But do you know what is best? That in every new house, no matter where it is located, you will always have a little field outside. And there will also be a ball. There is no owner in the world that will be able to remove that, I guarantee it. 
What matters most in your life at this moment, if I remember correctly, is the Ice Cream Goal.
The Ice Cream Goal is something magical. I need to talk to someone from PSG about the Ice Cream Goal. It’s great. It is pure motivation. The idea was for the organizers of the Salto youth championship. How do you get motivated to a bunch of six-year-old gurises no matter how the game goes? 
Putting the rule that the boy who makes the last goal of the game takes an ice cream.
The result could be 8-1, but it did not matter. It was a race against time. Mark the last goal of the game. And the feeling when listening to the technician who blew the whistle to mark the end, when you had put the Ice Cream Goal … incredible! An immense joy. Will it be chocolate? Are you going to get one of those from Mickey Mouse? Whatever it is, throughout that day, you will be the king.
Of course you’re not a kid from the capital, Pelado. The boys of Montevideo live in a different world. A world that you do not even know exists. A world of Adidas boots, car trips and green grass. In Salto, everything is different. For some reason, everyone wants to play barefoot. Some children start the matches with shoes, but then, at halftime, all the booties are stacked on one side and everyone will be running barefoot. If I close my eyes right now, I can still feel the mud on the soles of my feet. I can still feel my heart beating, chasing the ball, dreaming of ice cream.
You will carry these feelings with you throughout your life, because you are South American. From Uruguay. Of Salto. You live football in a different way. 
The blessing and the curse for the Uruguayans is that we can never relax. It is the history of our football, it is the history of our country. When we put on the blue, we feel the pride of our history.
We have to go for all, give, give, give. And there we go. 
What are your dreams, Pelado? 
I do not even remember them exactly. Time transformed them into diffuse memories. 
Is your dream to play in Montevideo, like Nando? You’ll get it, and when you do, you’ll feel like you’re playing the Champions League. 
Is your dream to play in Europe? You will also get it, and you will make enough money to change the life of your family.
Is your dream to play for Uruguay? You will do it, and you will have experiences that will make you cry with joy and also with sadness. 
Is your dream to play a World Cup? (I’m not going to ruin the surprise, I’ll just tell you that 2010 will be El Loco). 
Your dream is to have a lot of money, drive nice cars and sleep in elegant hotels? Well, Pelado, you’ll have all those things.
But I have to tell you something. They will not necessarily make you happy. 
What you have now, with 9 years old, is something that I miss very much now. 
You do not have a hot shower. You do not have a weight in your pocket. You do not even have good hair. But you have something else. Something that has no price. You have your freedom.
As a child, you live your life with an intensity and a passion that will be impossible as an adult. We try to hold on to that feeling when we grow up, but it starts to go away. It slips through our hands. There are too many responsibilities. Too much pressure. Too much life lived in. 
Do you know what life is like now, at 31 years of age?
You go from a hotel to a bus and from there to a training camp. After the training camp to a bus and an airplane. From the plane you go to another bus. From that bus you go to a stadium. 
In many aspects, you are living in a dream. But in many others, you are also a prisoner of that dream. You can not go outside and feel the sun. You can not take off the booties and play on the ground. Things will happen that will make your life complicated. It is unavoidable.
When you are a child, you have this feeling that the most successful person is the one who has the most things. 
When you grow up, you realize that the most successful person is the one who has the wisdom to live life. 
When you achieve it in professional soccer, you will have everything you can dream of. And for this you will have to be extremely grateful. But I have to be honest with you, Pelado. There is only one place where you can have that total freedom. And it lasts 90 minutes, if you’re lucky.
When you put on your boots, no matter if you’re playing in the Salto field, in the green grass of Napoli or in front of millions of people in a World Cup … I want to remind you of your father’s words. 
What does it always tell you, every time you go to play a game? 
I know that you know it. 
He says: “The moment you cross the line of lime and enter the field, it’s just football. Nothing that happens outside that line will help you with what goes on inside. Nothing else exists. “
If you listen to those words and really believe in the spirit of what they say, then, even if the pressure is immense, even if you are playing in front of millions of people … you will go out on the court and you will feel like you are playing barefoot. 
You will feel the mud stuck on the soles of your feet.
You will feel your heart beating and you will run looking for the ball, as if it were the biggest trophy in the world. As if you were playing for ice cream. 

Yesterdays game was a very big deal for the people of Uruguay. Cavani scored both goals for Uruguay, beating Portugal and advancing to the final 8. Guess he got his ice cream.

Uruguay Playing in the World Cup

It is big deal for Uruguay to be playing in the World Cup again. For such a small country of less than 3.5 million people they have qualified and participated in 12 of the 20 World Cups. They won twice and came in 4th on three different occasions the last in 2010.  Again, this is a huge accomplishment from a country with a population of under 3.5 million people.

Everyone in this country is excited about qualifying again for this years World Cup. It is being held in Russia in a few short weeks.

While Joe and I were out shopping we took the opportunity to get in the spirit.

Feria One Block from the House

Every Thursday afternoon there is a feria (farmers market) set up one block from our house. It has seafood, cheese, meats, sausages, clothes, shoes, plants, cleaning supplies, garden items, you name it and it will likely be found on a table, or under a canopy or in a trailer.  I know that in Montevideo the residents of the street receive a tax incentive for having the farmers market in front of their homes each week and that it is a three-year commitment allowing the mercado to be on your street.

They sell grains and beans in quantity, plus all different types of herbs and spices.  Some places sell medicinal herbs as well.This stand had honey and home canned veggie mixes.Not a great deal of fruit this time of year.  But they did have three varieties of apples, bananas, pears, juice and eating oranges and plums.  One stand had beautiful strawberries but there were just too many people.These trailers have chilled display cases with cheeses, salami and other cold cut meats, they also have several varieties of olives.This market does not get totally set up until around 3pm. By 4pm it was packed with people. This week the variety of warm clothing was unbelievable – coats, hats, scarves, gloves, you name it and it was at the market.  Joe and I bought heavy wool socks and gloves along with some fruits and veggies for the week.  We also bought a variety pack of sweets, cookies and alfahores. It came out to 10 pesos a piece.  Not bad since we cut everything in half and share.Another trailer with cheese, salami and cold cuts. This one sells pet supplies. Makeup and nail polish anyone? I wanted all three of these cast iron pots.  Not exactly sure what to do with the one with legs… Now for all you Yerba Mate drinkers…I bought a dozen or so of the pansies.  Hopefully this afternoon I will get them into the planter on the front porch. Next time Joe requested that I take close up pictures so you could see the actual items and cost.  Hope you enjoyed the tour of our Thursday market. Joe also said the best part was eating the torta fritas that reminded him of hojaldras in Panama.

Naval Museum



A short walk from the apartment to the rambla we found the Navel Museum.  It was not open the day we walked by so I was able only to get some outside pictures.

What I like about this area is all the parks, playgrounds and open grassy areas for children and families to share. Not much is cordoned off you can bring the kids up onto some of the military equipment and let them have some fun.

Uruguay, well Montevideo in particular, seems to have a great respect for the outdoors. So many parks, so many green spaces, so many benches and playgrounds for everyone to enjoy.  The city fathers thought out the planning of the city to include many places where people can enjoy the outdoors.

Starting the Uruguay Residency Process

Before moving we did a great deal of soul-searching and researching (mostly Joe did a great deal of research on Uruguay while I did the research in getting our documents from the US and we both did the soul-searching) and found blog articles, pictures and much much more on the internet about Uruguay.  It was the same process we had done for previous moves and it has worked well for us.

We decided to use a law firm to handle our residency process as we did in the past.  We feel more comfortable with someone who knows the ins and outs of the migration laws instead of trying to handle it by ourselves or using a facilitator that only does it part-time.  We decided to use the firm Fischer and Schickendantz, and so far it has been an exceptionally good experience.  Dr. Juan Federico Fischer was our first contact and he explained the process, the documents needed and what the firm could and would do for us.  Then he turned us over to his support staff.

Over a 6 month period we gathered the documents needed from the states, submitted them back to the Secretary of State where each document originated and we waited for them to arrive.  It was torture, every one seemed to take longer than normal and we were 2 weeks away from our move date and finally received the last documents we were waiting for.  Helping through this process was EcuaAssist in Manta, Ecuador.  Adriana Rosado was a dream to work with and took away a great deal of the anxiety we were feeling over this paperwork.

Our first appointments for this process went better than expected.  Here in Uruguay you are required to go to a health clinic and receive a Health Card. As part of our check-up we were asked if we had ever had a tetanus shot, well I have but it was over 10 years ago and Joe had never had one, so we both got shots.  Because I have had it before I will need to have two more shots one within a month and one after a year.  Then we are both good for 10 years.  God willing we will live that long.

The photo below is of our attorneys office and the assistant that is working with us on our residency. Magdalene has been a treasure trove of information helping us way beyond her job requirements.  Because we are spending time waiting at appointments she gladly shares all her knowledge about the area.

montevideo-2-1-3We have been to Interpol for our background checks and met with migration at two different offices.  We will be able to pick up our cedulas on Wednesday.

Then we will be off to visit some of the other coast towns north of here. The adventure continues……