I am spending my holidays in Jose Ignacio, Uruguay. This small village of around 700 homes has become over the last 3 years quite a magnet for sophisticated travellers from Europe and North America. Last night my wife and I were having dinner at Marismo, an extremely original restaurant that is basically a huge bonfire built on a sand dune surrounded by low lying tables where people eat great dishes made out of Uruguayan produce. As we sat down I noticed that most people around us were not native Spanish speakers, a new phenomenom around here. I´ve been coming to Jose Ignacio since 1985 and only recently have foreigners been seen in this town. But as opposed to the typical gringo visiting Mexico demanding that everything be explained in English I was pleased to see that most foreigners managed to make their way through the Spanish menus and order in Spanish. Last week I was in San Francisco at a Japanese restaurant where curiously when you were at the bathroom they would play a tape that taught how to count in Japanese. I loved the idea. An unexpected cultural experience. I think it´s time that we all made serious efforts to understand cultures in their original languages. Being part of Spanish culture myself I am thankful to the Jose Ignacio visitors for making the effort. Maybe the difference between a tourist, a traveller and a visitor relates to their relationship to local culture. A tourist wants to find his own culture everywhere else. A traveller wants to enjoy what´s foreign, a visitor wants to be part of it and in so doing…becomes our guest.

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars

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bernard on December 29, 2005  · 


the least every visitor can do when travelling in another country is learn: “hello, good bye, thank you, please, no, yes, sorry (the last one is very important).

It is not being a traveller, it is being respectful.

Those 7 words can get you out of so many bad situations (I could mention a few!).

And in this age of affordable intercontintental air travel no one has any excuse.

Feliz Año Nuevo para ti y tu esposa.

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Isabel Chattas on April 23, 2006  · 


I was there too this past December. I brought my husband who had never been to Jose Ignacio. We had an amazing time…
You bring up and interesting point as I have noticed that Americans in general tend to think the rest of the world should speak English to them when they’re abroad… Let’s first say that I am Argentine and I’ve been living in the US (country that I love and I am most grateful to) for some 10 years now…
I ran into some of my NY friends and they were just enjoying the absolute laid back but sophisticated ambiance, the originality and the beauty of Jose Ignacio and very happily “mixing” with the locals. But I must say that the Americans I saw in Jose Ignacio are not the prototype of the gringo visiting Mexico or travelling in an excursion to France, but rather the few that know that Jose Ignacio is an alternative to St. Barth.

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Brent on October 24, 2006  · 

I’m heading to Jose Ignacio for 5 days between Christmas and New Years 2006… I will do my best to further this good impression you have of the visitors to this beautiful location…

I (american) have been taking spanish classes for 2 years and am moving to Mexico in March for 6 months so I can speed up the process..

I definitely plan on living in Latin America for extended periods of times and hope to be able to co-exist entirely in spanish and portuguese..

I think Americans (at least on the coasts) are becoming alot more aware of all the world has to offer as we realize our country isn’t the “be all/end all” of destinations..

I look forward to spending time in JOse Ignacio.. relaxing and meeting some interesting people from all over the world..

I’ll also be in Chile on this trip.. I hear the spanish there is very difficult to understand.. so I figure I should be well warmed up by my arrival in Montevideo!

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courtney on July 21, 2007  · 

My husband and I spent two days in Jose Ignacio last November. The town was all but vacant as the tourist season had not started yet. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed the entire experience. Wonderful people at Posada del Farro – my favorite place I have stayed. Just wish it wasn’t so far from Utah or I would go there every year!

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joni on January 10, 2008  · 

We are heading to Jose Ignacio as part of our LA trip in Feb 08.
Can you give any insight on where to stay?

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