CHOOSING TO STAY FOR 3 WEEKS IN MONTEVIDEO
After a short visit in Buenos Aires, Ryan and I decided to head to Uruguay. Not knowing how long it would take for us to apply for our Brazil visas in Montevideo, we decided to rent an Airbnb for a full week. Unfortunately, when we went to the Brazilian consulate to apply for our visas, I realized I was completely out of pages in my passport. Since I was required to have two free pages available for my Brazilian visa, I had to apply for entirely new passport at the U.S. embassy in Montevideo (which would take another 10-12 days).
Ryan and I weren't planning to stay in Montevideo that long, but we knew we had a couple weeks until we had to meet his family in Brazil, so we didn't have to rush anywhere. While we waited another two weeks for my passport to arrive, Ryan and I decided to stay in the city and catch up on everything we had pushed aside while we had family and friends visiting over the holidays. We worked on updating our blog, editing photos, checking e-mails and organizing more details for our upcoming wedding. While we actually got so many of our initial tasks completed, we also gained further insight for our future in our three week stay in the city. Hopefully, this can help you decide whether slow travel would benefit you and your loved one.
LESSONS WE LEARNED AS A COUPLE BY TRAVELING SLOW
1. You get to really know a place
Even though cities aren’t usually our ideal place to stay, we loved getting to know Montevideo. Each week we stayed in a different part of the city. We’ve listed two of our favorite Airbnb’s we stayed at that we totally recommend if you want to get to know different parts of Montevideo. Florencia’s place is in Palermo and about a fifteen minute walk from Playa Ramirez (beach nearby). We also loved visiting Pott's Sweet & Coffee while in this area. [Side note: We cooked every meal at our Airbnbs to save money, so unfortunately, we don’t have any eating recommendations).
When we stayed at Sabrina’s, we enjoyed beach time at Playa Buceo, cooking our dinners, watching Netflix (!), and soaking up sun rays and sunset on the outdoor patio. It’s also super easy to catch the local buses from the main road right by her house. Not only did we love our Airbnb’s but we were mesmerized by the vibe of this city. Usually, cities overwhelm me in their constant chaotic business. For some reason, Montevideo didn’t make me feel this way. I don’t know if it’s because every time we went outside, everyone seemed like they were just hanging out with neighbors, drinking mate, and taking it slow. When I say everyone was drinking mate, I literally mean that. Ryan and I would visit the beaches, parks, any outdoor space and it would be filled with locals gathered around, chatting, drinking their mate, and soaking up the beautiful sunshine.
2. Your mind and body can finally relax
When we started our trip, it seemed like every day was “Go, go, go.” We would visit a town for two days, complete all the ‘must-sees’ in the area, eat at a recommended cafe, then hop on a bus to the next trendy place to visit. Don’t get me wrong. We visited SO many places that were absolutely amazing and I wouldn’t have traded that time for anything. Why? Because it brought me to the place that I am right now. It allowed me to realize how special even the simplest moments in life can be when you take the time to appreciate them, despite whether it is a must-see destination or not.
When we actually took the time to settle into a place and reinstate some of our old routines, it was like both of us were finally able to take a huge breath and relax. Being able to start our mornings together in prayer, reading the Bible, and working on our marriage prep workbook gave us ways to become still again and remember our highest purpose. It gave our minds time to wander, process, and evaluate where we both stood individually and as a couple moving into this next step of marriage. Whatever stage you are in during your travels, it's important to ground yourself in the present moment, so you don’t get caught up in the whirlwind of traveling. For us, however, it took slowing down to realize we were just where we wanted to be.
3. You can focus on your goals together
Another great reason we loved slowing down was because it allowed us to focus on our future goals including health, fitness, work, our relationship with each other and with God. When we were traveling so much and visiting so many different places in shorter time periods, we weren’t producing our highest quality content. Having the space, quietness, and extra free time to work brought out so much creativity and teamwork between us. I am kind of a freak about making sure I get to exercise and Ryan knows it. It’s seriously so important for me not only for my physical health, but my mental sanity :). While we were in Montevideo, I was able to get right back into my workout routine, whether it was watching YouTube workout videos in the living area or running along the ocean. While I was exercising, Ryan would work on writing or editing photos and when I was finished, we would switch roles so he could get a work out in.
4. You have time to appreciate the small things
What do I mean by that? Well, when you’re traveling through places so quickly, you get to see the most epic things continuously week after week. When we were in the city, we checked out the main beaches and cool parts of the city, but for the most part, there was no ‘out of this world’ experience for us to have on a daily basis. So, we then become more aware of the “small things” that became extraordinary in our own mind. For instance, I found so much joy waking up on the weekends and strolling through the local markets. I could spend hours in the markets bargaining all the fresh vegetables and fruits being sold or admiring all the crafts the artisans were creating. Even being able to cook nutritious, whole food meals with Ryan became one of my favorite moments out of the entire day. In the midst of chopping vegetables and searing chicken, Ryan would grab me by the waist and sway with me to the soulful tunes of Leon Bridges. The days that we deemed our ‘no work’ days turned into our ‘date days’ We would cook breakfast, read the Bible, go an adventure to the beach, play cards, cook dinner, drink wine, and watch the sunset. I’m telling you, it was those simple days that I came to realize were some of my favorite days of our trip.
While I have mostly written this post in favor of slow travel, I think there is a time and season for all types of travel. There are times where you simply have to take five overnight buses just to make it to a World Heritage Site for the day or that you are adventuring all over the country for weeks at a time because there is just SO much to see. However, there are also times where you have the choice to just slow down, stay in one place for a couple of weeks, regroup, and see what God will reveal to you in that time of stillness. I promise, you won’t regret any experience you open yourself up to.