There was a time, back when we thought wars were gone forever, when we made magnificent buildings, automobiles, and flying machines. Bridges of stunning grace spanned our waterways for the first time. Finely crafted cars were prized more for their sculpted beauty than for their utility, or even performance. Skyscrapers reached higher into the sky for no other reason than that they could. It was an era of daring innovation and style, and one we have not seen the likes of since.
All of this came to mind while looking at an old photo of the art deco/gothic masterpiece Palacio de Salvo building in Montevideo’s Ciudad Viejo. In the picture, a massive dirigible (probably the Graf Zeppelin) is seen floating over the towering cupola of the iconic structure. It is a study in extremes, one architectural and another aeronautic, both at the pinnacle of their art form, both in the same space and time, and both representing the exuberant cultural zeitgeist of the 1930’s.
I wonder if those looking up at that momentous event realized that war would eventually destroy the civilization that made such wonders possible. Probably not, as we seem to never be aware of the folly and hubris of our own day and age, and that is precisely why I like Montevideo so much- It seems to be so utterly out of touch with the times, like a man who has been stranded for too long on a desert island, or the crazy uncle who still wears a bow tie and tips his hat to the ladies.
So completely unaware of its lack of sophistication! So utterly unaffected! The world can pass by in its frenetic blur of sound and fury and yet-there goes Montevideo- there goes Uruguay- quiet, dignified, unpretentious, and unperturbed. The day will start at 10, lunch will come at one, the siesta at two, and dinner no sooner than 8. Everyone will be greeted cordially- the waiter and housecleaner as much as the doctor or lawyer- and no one will be hurried in this languid, soft, pastel picture-postcard of a place that hearkens back to a more leisurely time, a time of manners and grace, when customs and tradition mattered.
The farms will be tended in the same way for generations, and in the summer families will flock to the same beaches at Piriapolis and Punta del Este. People will dress informally, in their plain black pants and white shirts, sipping their mate’ as they walk across the sunny plazas. Children will wear their smocks to school, and play in the parks until dark, when they will, together with their family, eat dinner.
The people are European, and they are not ashamed of their heritage, nor do they make a fuss over it. They just are who they are, honoring their family legacy by living it, never seeking to become “multicultural”. I think they feel that their own culture is not in need of improvement.
They are nominally Catholic but are rather famously liberal, and perhaps these two go hand in hand. Their socialism can be reconciled with Christ’s commandment to “Love thy neighbor”, but they have taken this to mean allowing your neighbor to live his own life and only help him when he is truly in need. No one starves here, and their are precious few homeless, even in the city center. The churches are not full- these are Easter Sunday Christians at best- but the church is respected, and few would argue that it is an important societal institution.
I do not know exactly how the world passed by Uruguay or how, and in any case I know my tourist’s impression is not entirely true. Certainly they have their own share of problems. The cost of living is quite high, and they have had their share of banking crises, for example. Yet there is also something to the idea that they have, in the face of the juggernaut that is the NWO, maintained a quiet, peaceful existence outside of the worst influences of modernity-and for that they should at least feel a slight glow of inward satisfaction.
Perhaps their position near the bottom of the world has helped in their isolation. Perhaps they have benefited from the problems of their much larger neighbors who have used Uruguay as a safety net, an escape from their own internal turmoil. My own view reflects the Jeffersonian concept that an ideal society is an agrarian one. Uruguay has been blessed with some of the best farmland on the planet, and they have wisely hung on to their family acreage. The land is a tie that binds.
And so life goes down here in a country almost entirely off the radar screen, unseen, unheard, and blessedly unmolested by the riptides of mass immigration, globalism, and pollution, hidden away like a family heirloom in a trunk in the attic. It is perhaps the Montevideo of my imagination, an ephemeral dream, hearkening back to a bygone age, floating on the breeze like that great dirigible, but it is a pleasant vision, and one you don’t want to wake up from.