It’s December 24th, noon, and you are in Montevideo, Uruguay. What do you do? You go to “El Mercado del Puerto” (translated would be something like the Port’s Market). El Mercado del Puerto is a recycled market from mid 19th century which now hosts grill restaurants, serving typical Uruguayan dishes, asado and relatives. The place’s been around for about 150 years and has seen guests such as Gardel, Figari and virtually everyone who ever lived in Montevideo in the last century. It’s a very picturesque spot, it’s one of the icons of the city, and it’s a must for every tourist wandering about. The place deserves a post on its own.
Towards the end of the year it’s the place of choice for lots of Uruguayans wishing to bid the year farewell, typically with office mates. It’s traditional to go and have lunch, and get dizzy or plain drunk on “medio y medio” (a drink made out of bubbling wine and dry white wine, medio y medio meaning half n’ half), a sweet deceiving thing that goes up ones head quickly.
The peaks of this celebrations are the 24th and the 31st when most offices work till noon and the after office traditionally is at El Mercado del Puerto, where people go to celebrate, eat, dance in the street, or just watch the live spectacle. It’s the kind of event you’d see on an E! Wild On show. There are music groups playing drums at Candombe and Samba rhythms, people spill beer and “medio y medio” over each other, (women are the most affected :) So if you go chances are that you will get wet and come back smelling, whether you drink or not. Movement starts somewhere around noon, and continues until around five.
As the afternoon advances the place gets progressively crowded, noisy, wild, and even dangerous since it’s a drunken mob that we are talking about. The vibe in general is very, very good, but on a 24th or 31st the place is Armageddon, I don’t stay after three or four myself. Instead a few blocks away there’s the old city (ciudad vieja) where partying in the street continues. ...