Small Town, Big Heart

Colonia del Sacramento Travel Blog

 › entry 4 of 4 › view all entries

    This weekend’s trip to Colonia, Uruguay was just what I needed. I got to get away from the hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires for the quiet, small town of Colonia. For the first time in weeks, I was able to eat at a restaurant that did not allow smoking. I was also ecstatic at the fact that I did not go to bed reeking of cigarette smoke. I thoroughly enjoyed sitting quietly by the river on a rock and pleasure reading. This task would be impossible to do in Buenos Aires. While in Colonia, I also got to go on a tour of the town to learn about the history and formation of it. In every sentence and place that we visited, the tour guide mentioned the River Plate (El Río de la Plata). From this tour I walked away with the knowledge that the livelihood of Colonia as well as much of Uruguay depends on the river. The economy is greatly reliant on the River Plate. Tourism, mills, fishing, and other industries all stem from this river. If something were to happen to this river, Colonia as well as Uruguay would be in great trouble. Now I understand that Uruguay is a small country and thus does not have a plethora of options when it comes to certain things. However, I can’t help but wonder why they have “banked” so much on this river. Why do they have “all their eggs in one basket?”

            Visiting Colonia this weekend made me really think about countries, towns and cities where there is one major source for income. In particular, I thought about my friend Whitney who lives in Detroit, Michigan. Her family has worked in the Ford plant for 4 generations. Although some members have gone to college, they have still come back to work for Ford in some capacity, whether it was actually working in the plant or working for the Ford corporate company. Consequently, when they started to shut down plants in Detroit, her family greatly suffered. When her dad got laid off I asked her what his next course of action was and Whitney replied “I really don’t know. He’s never thought that he would need another job. He was raised his whole life to think that he would always work at Ford.” Now growing up in a family that consists of many careers and interests, I really found this hard to empathize with. I did not understand how someone could center their life on one thing. However going to Colonia and talking to some of the Uruguayan locals taught me that in some places, people really do center their life around one thing. Whether this thing is a religion, industry or natural resource, the livelihood of the town/country really depends on it.

            I also thought about how small towns such as Colonia resist corporate industries and chains. My fellow study abroader Phil Gadomski once told me about how his small town in Connecticut has really resisted the production of a Walmart. Again, growing up in big cities and suburbs all my life, I do not understand this. Although in New York City we have many original and private businesses, there are major corporations and chains all around. Consequently, when Phil told me that his town was actually heatedly arguing and fighting over Walmart, I really was bewildered. However after visiting Colonia I started to understand more of what Phil was talking about. Bringing McDonalds or TGIFridays or Marshall Fields would ruin Colonia. It would wreck the feel of small town, homey atmosphere. It would essentially be the downfall of the heart of Colonia. Many of the locals would feel as though their whole lives and family history was being tainted.

Accordingly, although I love the character and atmosphere of the big city, sometimes it is good to get away and go to the smaller towns. Visiting these places always reiterates some great facets in life: the feel of community, sense of peace and quiet, strong honor of resilience, and the great possibility of potential and hope.

Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
82 km (51 miles) traveled
Sponsored Links