There are a number of "conventillos" in this neighbourhood, which are little alleyways (sometimes partly hidden or appearing as normal front-doors) that lead to what were once tenements but that got refurbished in the last 15 years or so into extremely nice, very unique houses (most somewhere between 100-150m square). This particular photo isn't of it, but The Abbey (my home) is one of these.
Here's another street fair. Every day of the week there's a farmer's market type street-fair somewhere in the neighbourhood, on a different street each day. The one closest to The Abbey is on Fridays, for example. They start around 8am and are supposed to be packed up and gone by 1pm. You get a mix of produce, meat & cheese stalls, and contraband products (mostly other foodstuffs or kitchen & bathroom stuff).
Check out those prices: Bananas are just under $2 U.S. per kilo, carrots less than fifty cents a kilo, grapefruit about $1.50, and onions about $1.30.
When I had first moved to Uruguay I lived in El Cordon. Back then, it was full of old people, mostly. Everyone I told my address to would say "oh, my grandmother lives there". Then I moved away to a top-floor apartment right in the heart of downtown, and then moved back here two years back. At that point, I saw that the place had already changed and has been changing faster as time goes by. The picture above is of a trendy (Uruguayan style) hipster restaurant that opened up a block from my house. This past year, I've counted at least one new restaurant, bar, cafe or theme-store opening up each month, none of them the more traditional kind of pizza-and-beer place but rather more artistic, or trendy, or nostalgic, or 'alternative'. I've noticed a lot of bearded-guys-on-bikes, and girls with tattoos. Very slowly, Cordon is becoming Montevideo's version of the hipster-neighbourhood; this is mainly because it is: a) very central (just south of the main downtown, just north of the beach), b) adjacent to but a lot cheaper and less glitzy than Pocitos, the traditional upper-middle class neighbourhood. A lot of the new kids moving in here have parents with (fancier) houses or apartments in Pocitos (or further out, in the upper-class suburbs of Carrasco), but could neither afford nor would aesthetically want to live in those places.
Personally, I like Cordon better than either of those. Carrasco is a hole; it's full of McMansions and looks the most like a U.S. suburb of anywhere I've been to in Uruguay; plus it takes an hour to get there from anywhere or vice-versa, and has an appalling crime rate - it's funny how some of my other expat friends who live there need to build little fortifications of high walls and electric barbed wire and still don't feel safe enough to go out, while here in El Cordon (in the "downtown", where these uninformed expats tell me it's really 'dangerous', you can see little old ladies walking their tiny dogs along the street at midnight). Pocitos suffers from the same high crime; the problem being that the lower-class burglars and muggers to go those neighbourhoods to steal because that's where the money is. Meanwhile, I don't need any special security, because you can't even see The Abbey from the street; the best defense isn't high walls or barbed wire, it's no one knowing where you are and not looking like a place so obviously worth robbing. Both those neighbourhoods are also much more expensive than Cordon (though real estate is cheap all over Montevideo, and Uruguay as a whole, in those two neighbourhoods prices are inflated because they're thought of as the 'fancy' neighbourhoods).
No, I'll stick to living here, thanks.
More to come of this next week, if people like it!
Currently Smoking: Castello 4K Collection Canadian + Image Latakia