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During the weekend Paul and I visited the wealthy neighborhood of Carrasco, at the edge of Montevideo, where they have a beautiful beach, delish lunch and lovely clean streets with impressive buildings.

Spending two months in this Southern hemisphere neighborhood where summer is December through March is helping me with the concept of turning things around as we do on Purim (Jewish carnival) happening this week. Turning things around could mean becoming aware of our roles in life, disguises and the grey area between black and white.

For example, when Paul and I go to our neighborhood Feria (outdoor vegetable and wares fair) on Tuesdays and Fridays, he has been standing still holding a shopping basket while I circle around collecting vegetables and fruit at what has become our favorite vendor. While standing still with the basket, Paul has been using google translate to assist him with chatting with one of the sellers. Last Feria she immediately recognized us and showed us her phone while pointing to the Zoom app because she is excited to be using Zoom to interview for shoe store jobs. Two years ago she was fired from her shoe store job, after fifteen years, for taking maternity leave. Paul suggested that she apply to a baby shoe store. She is also attending business school.

How does hearing about a shoe store job from a young woman working at a Feria in Montevideo illustrate Purim and turning things around? Besides taking place in the southern hemisphere, it made me think of the impression I had of my paternal grandfather while I growing up and beyond. He became a shoe store employee after the first of two sons was born (my Dad, Donny). My Grampa Paritz gave up his career as a traveling big band saxophone player to become a shoe store employee and, I believe, he and my Grandma together became managers of a store that was not terribly successful. People said that he never played the saxophone again, his job never amounted to much and he was a good father. He also had a great sense of humor and loved to play golf. The family lived in a very modest apartment in Elizabeth, NJ. His two sons worked their way through a Rutgers University education, became professionally successful and eventually purchased a nice Florida condo for their retired parents.

Is working in a shoe store good or bad? For the man who started

Zappos the shoe business was extremely lucrative yet bad for his health. The young woman at the Feria seems really excited about earning her business degree and returning to shoe selling. Why didn't my grandfather keep playing the saxophone while selling shoes? Lower middle class living created a desire for professional success for his sons. Turn, turn, turn.

Contrasting with the Carrasco neighborhood, our two month Airbnb rental is in the Ciudad Vieja neighborhood where the streets are not so clean. On our morning walks, we see a few people waking up on their piece of cardboard. They are living the role of the homeless during this carnival time. Although I never have any coins to give, because I always use debito, I did purchase packaged nut and fruit bars at my favorite Montevideo health food store, La Molienda, to give to the homeless. Gifts to both friends and the poor are part of the Purim carnival celebration as a reminder that, whatever role we are living, we are all one.

As we walk down the less than perfectly clean streets, we also see some impressive street art.

Stay tuned for more video and a post about our last week of our winter escape to the beautiful country of Uruguay. Chao for now.

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David Fried
David Fried
Mar 09, 2023

both of you are starting to look like native uruguayans, or at least well weathered ones very comfortable there. i love that you were giving fruit bars to homeless , which is an authentic way to celebrate one of the main mitzvahs of purim. i am proud of you for being such adventurers. like they say in queen city park, "hasta la vista"

Ellen Gittelsohn
Ellen Gittelsohn
Mar 15, 2023
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Thanks for your comment David. I've discovered that two months is actually a short amount of time for going beyond vacationtioning or touring, yet we have started to enter into a daily living comfort zone. I wrote more about that in my next blog post that will be published by tomorrow. Hasta luego!

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