#079: The Squeal, The Click & The Horse [Uruguay]Tak's dispatch released on 6 December 2016

Cabo Polonio Uruguay Street Art

The paralyzed air allows the thick warmth inside to exercise itself into a choking heat. Tonight, the wind went missing from the quiet beach town on the Uruguayan shore.

Your rhythmic breaths—warm puffs of perfumed nectar—spill out luring the high-pitched squeal that taunts you; the high-pitched squeal a torn nylon netting, the one that dangles sloppily from above, can no longer keep at distance.

You wait for the volume increase, a gloss of sweat building, and then, at the opportune time, attack mercilessly with a slap to the side of your head. Your other hand plays the surprise flank attack, crushing a miniscule pocket of air just above you in case it tried to escape. The whine has ceased and now, in this silent house covered in vegetation, softly lit by the full moon, you wait.

The best feeling comes from the accomplishment that you rid your space of the miniature beast. This same feeling is the one typically followed by the worst feeling, that your campaign of fortuitous warfare failed miserably upon realization that the sound has returned. Through the gaps where the roof is supported to the upper floor, you hear each second click on the clock downstairs; each second a stern warning that your time of rest is running out, but what else can one do when the squeal overrides the click and the need for sleep?

Valizas House, Uruguay

A perfect dawn—with small dots of dew sparkling in the morning sun, and that wonderful ocean breeze finally finding its way out of captivity—greets you. You yawn. Your head is half heavy, half cloudy, and half pocked by red bumps; the casualties of war. “This is probably not going to be the place to sleep anymore,” you think, observing the quaint house as you head, stomach rumbling, towards the berry bushes out back.

Pasculina Spinach Pie Uruguay

On the dirt road, heading for that food shack you spotted the other morning; you retrace your steps successfully. A couple tables perched out front pass you by; the shaded entry giving way to a rudimentary wood counter and a smiling woman. It’s the kind of place that gets overrun at some point in its life due to excessive recommendation, or closes altogether; an unknown notch in history. The gold-crusted pasculina, a spinach-filled, or chard-filled or something-or-other-filled pie, leads you out towards the tables. Last night is a distant memory; there is little reason for complaint.

Valizas Boy on Horse With Dog Uruguay

The children back in your home country are stabbing their fingers at liquid crystals, mesmerized by cartoon-figures and colourful games while an award-winning script of life plays, unnoticed, outside the window. That’s the first thought that comes to your mind when a young boy, his bare feet swaying to the motion, appears down the road, in command of a black horse, accompanied by a black dog.

This certainly isn’t some birthday party activity, with adults stuffing signed liability forms in their designer pockets and watching their heavily fortified child being led in a circle on the pony. In fact, there are no supervising adults to be seen. The only adults in the area are going about their business (as if you really thought they’d notice the familiar and do something about it).

He looks at you, the traveling outsider, wondering what you are doing in his small coastal town. Why you are so enthralled by the site of him riding his horse; isn’t that the real question? As he pulls off to the side of the road, dismounting on top of a wooden fence before jumping down to the ground, he certainly fathoms—if he actually were to think of anything at all—that this is what kids his age do everywhere, so carry on sir.

Uruguay Beach Town Scene

A “desolate beach” sounds like something you’d say to describe a scene pulled from a murder mystery novel where the slanted rain pits the sand while the night tide pounds away at a weathered dinghy tied hastily to a rotted wooden piling. So maybe it is better to describe it as wild or secluded or untrampled beach; does that make it easier to picture? Whatever the branding, the crowds, if they ever do—as is certainly maintained per your asking—have not arrived at this point. The brisk waters, the clean beach, the locked toilet facility and the empty parking lot enlivened by frisky dogs speak to this observation of yours.

With the smoke curling up into the starry night sky, and the grilled morsels having quickly disappeared from the plate and the impromptu jug band’s tunes fading with each step, you enter into a new nightly abode where the hum of fans replace the hum of beasts and you find, the next morning, that you had successfully and quickly fallen fast asleep. And upon walking to the bathroom sink, and snatching a quick image of your face, you realize you are free of red welts.

Progress has a good argument at times.

Valizas Produce Stand Uruguay
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Internationally-published photographer with a passion for creative food, fine products, unique cultures and underground music. Twitter / Instagram / Email

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