You know when you go to a party and you know everyone (never happened to me, but just saying)? Well, that’s what it’s like living in Montevideo. Everyone knows you, so no, I could have never be that secret spy, that anonymous Nonnie, that I hoped. Bummer.
I am what you can call a weird Uruguayan – never had asado, always on time, and I don’t hate Argentinians. Just kidding, many people here don’t hate our flag color-brothers.
But growing up I didn’t belong; I was the odd little kid reading English novels and pretending to have an accent. Everyone would choose a magazine and there I was, looking for an English version of Shakespeare on Tristan Narvaja (a long street known for having a lot of bookstores).
If I had to use one adjective to describe Uruguayans, I would say nostalgic. It’s not a bad thing, but we often lack color. No wonder people would look at me strange when I’d dress more like a European when I was a teenager. Things have changed though; luckily, the capital, Montevideo, is a city where you can express yourself freely and with a lot more diversity. Not enough for me, but still. Don’t get me wrong, there are amazing things here, but this is about my life, so you’ll have to forgive me if I am not objective.
My longing for exploration started when I was very young, and my love for English even younger. I started studying the language when I was five, and I fell in love – especially because I had teachers from all around the world, and it made me feel like I was traveling, that there was more for me out there. That’s one of the reasons why my accents is a weird mix between British, Irish and soft touches of American thanks to my best friends.
No wonder I studied communication; I always wanted to be a writer. I yearn to talk and be heard. I remember I would get so disappointed when I couldn’t speak in English with people here (because they didn’t speak it), that I would have conversations in English with myself (no juzgues, don’t judge).
But that changed. I was 22 years old, finishing my degree and surfing around Tinder while working at a Montevideo TV channel. And it happened.
I matched with this German guy living in Uruguay. THE German guy. We would talk in English and Spanish, but mostly English. It was one of the most beautiful experiences I ever had, holding hands walking in Ciudad Vieja, talking about poetry, him showing me his world through words and pictures.
The sad part came, and he left. That was hard. It hit me that Montevideo was a passage, not a destination. At that time, I remember I even booked a flight to Berlin. Couldn’t shake that feeling.
It’s passed, though. And what I got was so much more marvelous, so much bigger, than a trip to Germany. That affair injected me with an inspiration to write again, and the high hasn’t stopped – it has led me to create a profession out of writing, specifically poetry. And so I learned that I would live that ephemeral romance all over again even knowing that he would leave, because it filled my life with joy.
That was the beginning of my amazing experiences with foreign people. I don’t know if I have a magnet or am just lucky, but since that moment I started meeting people from other countries more often. It could help that I’m a nomad myself; I’ve lived in more than seven neighborhoods and moved 13 times.
And that’s how we get to last year: I started working at la Universidad Tecnológica de Uruguay (UTEC) and as soon as I started, they told me that I was going to be working with an English Teaching Assistant (ETA) from the States who was coming to live in Uruguay for one year on the Fulbright scholarship.
Tom. He became my best friend. We were like sisters. Maybe you’d think I shouldn’t have gotten so close to him, knowing that he would leave, but I did it anyway, because it’s better to love and say goodbye than never to have loved at all (maybe that’s Shakespeare? Anyway, thanks Tristan Narvaja, for all your books).
It was August, I was at the gym and luck struck again: I met Rocío, an amazing Spanish girl that became one of my dearest friends. She had been living in Uruguay for two years, but I met her just when she was about to leave. But it didn’t matter; I met an amazing person who became my true friend. We travelled to Chile together and shared beautiful moments.
That’s how I get to 2019. I knew another ETA was coming to work with me, which of course meant another friend, but I wasn’t expecting Sarah or Imari. You know when things just click? They did. They are my soul sisters, and I wouldn’t change this for anything, even knowing they’ll leave eventually. Together we have met beautiful people from Brazil, Argentina, England and of course, Uruguay.
Life and love are experience: they are living and being vulnerable, and for me, more times than I can count, that means letting go.
Written by Guillermina Pose; Photos by Guillermina Pose.
Follow Guillermina on Instagram, here.