Pretty Presents from the South: Uruguay Through Brazilian Eyes and Reais

“Pretty gifts from the South” reads a billboard of the Uruguayan tourism ministry in downtown Porto Alegre. Brazilians and especially Gaúchos (people from Rio Grande do Sul) flock to Uruguay’s beaches in the summer. Uruguay doesn’t do a whole lot of advertising abroad, but Rio Grande do Sul and Buenos Aires are certainly it’s target markets. Two things are funny about this billboard. One, there isn’t anything suggesting Uruguay other than the fact that it says Uruguay. It’s just a cute couple opening presents. Is it implying that you go to Uruguay to shop? Because it’s damn expensive there, and you can get way better quality and prices in Brazil or Argentina. Second, the “do Sul” tag, or “from the South”, is how Southern Brazilians self identify. I can’t tell you how many shops I saw in just a couple days in Rio Grande do Sul are called things like “Petrosul”, or “Borracharia do Sul”, or “Lojas do Sul”. One of the state’s most popular songs is called “Eu sou do Sul”. Thus labelling Uruguay as “do Sul” emphasizes it’s familiarity to Brazilian visitors. In many ways, it’s just a continuation of Brazil. Or in mocking terms, Rio Grande do Sul Sul.

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3 thoughts on “Pretty Presents from the South: Uruguay Through Brazilian Eyes and Reais

  1. Well, actually a lot of things like parfums and expensive clothes are cheaper in Uruguay; there are special stores in the airport, in the ferrys crossing the Río de la Plata, and in the towns in the border like Chuy or Rivera. These stores have an english name, Free Shops, this means that are tax free and only foreigners are allowed to buy. So yes, you will find lots of brazilian people shopping happily; they also feel more secure here (for example, they can wear expensive watches without fear here); look at this recent videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lJP61cq13A. Gauchos in Uruguay, gaúchos in Rio Grande do Sul; both places have many things in common; remember that a big portion of Rio Grande was part of the Banda Oriental, the original name of Uruguay. Did you notice the name of the you tube channel? Guria entrometida. Guria in Rio Grande, gurisa in Uruguay. Guria or gurisa, female of gurí, child or little boy in the guaraní language. This girl also bought a Go Pro in Uruguay: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JE8OR6L8_VE It was a very expensive and bad quality Go Pro, (because it was sold in Uruguay);)

  2. Thanks for reminding me. Appreciate your comments. You are correct that that is the message here to Brazilians. To an American or European audience, the tourism ministry is likely sending a much different message. I’m familiar with the free shops and will have a post on them at some point. I’ve been to them in Rivera and Rio Branco, and on a Saturday afternoon, they’re practically the busiest place in all of Uruguay, only it’s full of Brazilians. I’ve even had Uruguayan friends pay me to buy stuff for them there because you need a foreign ID. I’ve got a lot of other material on the fronte(i)ra and Uruguay Brazil relations to suss out. This billboard was just a little snapshot 🙂

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