In Praise of Slow
Original post: Another World Adventures
Having sailed an almighty long way from the Spanish island port of Las Palmas we made it to Uruguay in South America.
I am in the gorgeous town of Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay’s oldest town founded by the Portuguese so they could smuggle things across the waters of the Rio de la Plata into Buenos Aires, Argentina which is, from where I’m sat, across the bay.
Yesterday whilst roaming around the World Heritage Site historic quarter trying not to stub my toe on all the cobbled streets I discovered a little place called Lentas Maravillas.
It’s self-described as Colonia’s best kept secret and behind a non-descript front door is a little paradise haven of a family run tea house with a flower packed garden that slopes down to the shores of the bay.
I came in yesterday and sat inside watching thick black clouds rolling in from the ocean. With a coffee in one hand, a stupidly tasty chocolate brownie in the other, the family cat on my lap and a copy of Julia Child’s ‘The Art of French Cooking’ balanced somewhere in the middle I promptly fell asleep.
It’s not really café etiquette I think but what a special place that you feel so comfortable that you can fall asleep…even just for a few minutes. And not get robbed. I was (slightly) mortified when I woke up I think they were waiting for me to wake up so they could close the cafe, but it was a motherly friendly smile from the owner when I sheepishly asked for the bill.
Between power napping and learning the art of strapping a lobster to a chopping board, I flicked through the pages of another book from the many piles of literature that filled the room between the armchairs. I could have opted for “women in film” or Vikram Seths “A suitable boy” but I found myself flicking through Carl Honore’s ‘In praise of slow’.
The chapter I opened it up at was titled “We are what we eat” a quote from 19th Century German Philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach. It seemed wholly appropriate given the major wrestling match I’d had trying to get into my old faithful Monkee Genes earlier in the morning.
There had been many unsavoury words muttered under my breath about the hostel tumble dryer but in my heart of hearts I know it has a lot more to do with the layers of thick, creamy, caramel-like spread ‘Dolce de Leche’ I’ve been pouring all over my buttery pastries every morning since arriving in South America.
Then again it might be the steaks. Oh god the steaks. Or the smooth full bodied Tannant red wine a product of Uruguay which tastes as good from the 2 Euro 1L cartons with my grande chorizo al pan lunch as a £20 bottle at home might.
Friends from Europa would most likely say it’s because I can’t go a meal, breakfast included without thirds. Okay, fourths. My appetite has grown at a pace that would rival Brazil’s GDP … it must be all the fresh air, right?
Before I’d opened the pages of the book, top jeans button secretly undone under my top, I’d already decided to hire a bike for the next day and go for a bit of a cycle to counter-balance my new extra chins. And so this morning, this ‘Rare Fillet of Smooth Sweet Delight Best Accompanied with Chorizo and Cheese’ rolled down the hill to the bike rental store.
Gales aren’t ideal cycling weather but I was unperturbed. Drastic action was needed and although I didn’t exactly perform an exercise in hurry along the 8km beach ramblas, I did go quite a long way. Particularly as my pedal kept falling off.
Something to do with the load maybe?
After a small altercation with the bumper of a white van, I cycled right out of town, to the hippodrome where I watched horses being put through their paces at the track, to the ruins of a huge bull fighting ring built in 1910 and then banned two years later.
I whizzed down hills and crawled up the other side. I went looking for the vineyard… come on, it’s the Gemini in me searching for balance – and instead homed in on a magical antique yard. Some would say junk. Luckily for me, my bank account and my not so indestructible rucksack, it was closed.
The time in Uruguay since we came off the boat has been something of a strange de-compression chamber. It’s been a great place to be gently welcomed back into a functioning society having been wrapped up in the closed community of the ship over the past weeks.
Still, until we entered Brazil I’d never arrived in a new country without going through the motions of immigration with a stern looking person in a uniform, and lots of forms to fill out in a windowless hall and it feels quite strange to arrive again, this time to Uruguay when someone has done all that for you. It feels a bit like you’re on a day trip, not in a new country.
With travelling often comes the feeling to pack lots in and make the most of the time we have away. After trips to the southeast Atlantic beaches and time in the capital Montevideo this place, this sleepy town of Colonia, where the table has been turned on speed, has been the first where the shoulders go down, you sit a bit further back in your chair and relax.
Much like my order when I came back to Lentas Maravillas this afternoon to soak up the view from the garden not the inside of my eyelids and couldn’t decide whether to have coffee or a glass of wine – the philosophy of Slow can be summed up in one word: Balance.
wine or coffee wine or coffee: balance
Seeing as that is something I am in pursuit of I’ve decided to seek balance by living the coming weeks/months/years at what musicians call the tempo giusto – the right speed.
I ordered both.
They were delicious.
But not as good as the mini cakes they gave me.