On my first morning in a new city, I like to get out of my hotel and explore the neighborhood on foot. Not only does this get me oriented to my surroundings, but I’ve heard that sun exposure helps to reset a jetlagged body clock, which I really need after yesterday’s 21-hour flight from Edmonton to Montevideo
I’m being put up by my host university at the Days Inn, a not-bad hotel with a not-bad complimentary buffet breakfast. But I’d like to while away some time in a cute coffee shop, so I clap my hat on my head, put on my sunglasses and set out into the already-warm morning.
It doesn’t take long for me to realize that although I’m staying at a not-bad hotel, its neighborhood is a little farther down the not-bad scale. With the exception of the gigantic Tres Cruces Mall across the street, most of street level stores look a little down on their luck. I’m used to walking on uneven sidewalks in older cities but here I’m walking around entire missing sections. Graffiti is everywhere. There are more than a few people bedded down on the pavement or trying to make a little money selling a few cheap items. I don’t feel threatened because there are lots of people going about their Thursday morning business. But after walking first one direction and then another, I doubt that this is a neighborhood where a cute coffee place would set up shop.
This isn’t to say that I don’t see some beauty in all the rough edges. I just need to look a little harder to find it than I thought I would.