This is another update since I last posted an update in 2019.
Traveled to Montevideo, Uruguay on January 31st with the plan of staying there for 3.5 months and learn more about the country and the beer industry. Very quickly realized that in Uruguay people don’t work much between December and April. Those are summer months and include multiple holidays and festivities (Christmas, New Years, Carnival, Tablados (public shows), etc). Whenever I tried to meet with someone to talk about the brewing industry, they would tell me that we should meet later in the year because they were at the beach. So I decided to go with the flow, and joined the party. February was very fun and got first row seats at the Desfile de Llamadas and got to see some street candombe. Unfortunately March 13th was a dreadful day: the fist case of COVID-19 was detected in Uruguay and everyone stayed home at that point. I spent the next month trapped inside an apartment and eventually my return flights got cancelled, but I fortunately there were some humanitarian flights available for foreigners trying to return to their countries so I was able to flight to São Paulo at the end of April and from there, flight to Houston to then drive a rental to Austin.
The rest of 2020 was the same as everyone else, working remotely, staying at home, ordering curbside groceries/food from restaurants, and meeting very few friends. But it was nice to be back at home and I did a lot of home brewing which lead to me organizing some social distance free beer events with the neighbors and that was very lovely. I felt we created some level of community.
I also did a small week trip to Galveston which was a nice break from a difficult year.
Things did not change much in 2021 with respect to working remotely and staying home most of the time, except that my employer switched me from being a contractor to being an employee (still part time). This provided me with additional benefits and my hourly salary was adjusted accordingly.
When people finally started getting vaccinated for COVID-19 and thanks to my desire to get vaccinated soon, I ended up volunteering with Kendra Covid Coaches which then turned into volunteering for VaxTogetherAustin.org. Both efforts were very fulfilling experiences and I met some of the most amazing women.
I also dared to travel by plane again and decided to join “father of home brewing” Charlie Papazian in one of his beer & food retreats at the Whitehead Light Station in Maine. It was an amazing experience and after that, I went to visit my sister’s family and finally got to meet my adorable nephew M who was born in 2020.
Early in 2022 my sister’s family drove to TX and we spent a wonderful month in town, including a great trip to Corpus Christy beaches.
Then in the summer my parents came to visit, and unfortunately they caught COVID-19 on the trip and gave it to me, but thanks to Paxlovid their symptoms were very mild. I lost my sense of taste and smell and even the most fragrant Hazy IPA would not smell and for a second I worried that I would not be able to judge beers again but eventually my senses recovered. We still managed to have a good time quarantined at home for almost two weeks.
Later in the summer I traveled to visit my brother’s family in Europe and got to meet my beautiful niece L who was born in 2020, a month before my nephew. I also got to see my older niece C who is now 5 years old and has the best personality. And I met cute S, my good friend’s C daughter. We spent most of the time in town, but did a weekend trip to the Kołobrzeg beaches in Poland.
I got to enjoy the craft beer scene in Germany, but it was very similar to what you get here in the USA: lots of Hazy IPAs. The few times I tried to drink a traditional style like Hefeweizen or Helles was underwhelmed. I concluded that if I wanted to drink traditional styles, I had to go with the traditional brands which many times meant buying beers produced by AB InBev which I avoid at all cause. But I won’t lie: it was wonderful to drink and rediscover some styles I haven’t had in several years like alt, doppelbock, eisbock, rauchbeer. The most fun beer was a weizen rauchbeer which the bottle shop sales person described as drinking bananas wrapped in bacon. Brilliant.
And now the present: after waiting patiently for 2 years, I’m ready to travel to Uruguay for several months again. I’ll be leaving in a couple of weeks and I feel both excited and scared, but I’m ready to go make the best out of the next few months. I’ll continue working remotely and will focus mainly on my adaptation to the country and won’t be thinking about starting a beer business over there yet. That project has already waited a few years, so at this point I feel it is ok to wait a bit more and do it when the right circumstances are in place.
To be continued…