Learning Uruguay

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All for one and one for all

Posted by urufish on June 9, 2007


Winter is coming.  We’ve had some cold days.  2 days ago we had a hanging fog, the kind that lasts for a couple of days.  A quarter of the people I know are sick with respiratory illnesses.  Most of them have various combinations of sore throats, flu, nausea, fever and coughs.  How is it that so many people get so sick with the same thing so fast?   Besos and Mate!!!

Anyone who knows Uruguyans know they kiss no matter what.  When I was still a tourist a few years ago, I remember my wife got sick just before our flight back home.  We called a friend who called a friend and an hour or so later, a lady doctor showed up at our apartment.  She had no idea what was wrong with my wife but she kissed me when she came in and then my wife, who was lying semi-conscious in bed.  She kissed us both upon leaving.  Doctors kiss patients, regardless what’s wrong with them.  

It’s the same with the Mate straw.  I’ve never seen anyone decline because they’re ill.   Maybe this is where the description that Uruguayans make little distinction between friends and family comes from.   Parents and children will still hug and kiss when someone is sick.  At least in this family, everyone getting sick seems inevitable, so why not embrace it, (exceptions made for things like the mumps or measles :).  If friends are like family, then being sick together feels better than being sick alone. 


4 Responses to “All for one and one for all”

  1. Brazzie said

    This is true in Brazil as well. Either you develop a good immune system fast or you are toast!

    Two kisses (and nowadays three in certain areas) are the norm there, which explains why people get conjunctivitis (the contagious kind) very often. Sometimes a whole family falls ill at the same time. But they considered it a small price to pay.

  2. urufish said

    hahahaha.. you’re absolutely right.. pink eye here is epidemic.. In almost 60 years in Canada, I never once got it. I was here, what?, 4 months, and my daughter gave it to me. She got it from kissing her friends… My wife escaped by forcing us both into quarantine….. She also forced us to dunk our eyes in tea…. I hope that doesn’t happen again this year… hahaha

  3. BORIS said

    well i prefer to receive one o two kisses at least no matter the situation / it preferable to receive a litlee bit afection and tenderess that a cold treatment for others.
    even men in Uruguay and Argentina kiss each other when they encounter, this is the base for a family society and a friendly one.
    it’ s a good starting point to developpe a sincere friendship.
    And let me say also , kisses are historically matters, nothing new..

  4. Dancep said

    Is it considered rude not to drink Mate with the common straw, I assume it would be rude to carry your own… But perhaps just to not partake at all would be okay? (for an ex-pat) It does sounds like a good way to catch something, kissing on the cheek less so.

    In our culture shaking hands is the common greeting, and colds and flu are transmitted this way as people touch their noses, eyes or mouth later without thinking. When I have a cold or flu I try to refuse to shake hands and explain it, but it’s incredibly hard in the business world to do, does seem rude to people when in fact you are trying to respect them.

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