Simply beautiful. Arriving at this village city was like going through the magic gates of Narnia; it was if I were stepping into a new parallel world. Better still, it felt like traveling back in time, reaching a place where dwellersare tranquile and kind, gentile people of the past. Clean streets bear long standing facades, along with not so old ones, primly painted in fancy colours, and to my surprise, there were several house doors and fences left open, while bikes stood unattended, leaning under a tree, or at a corner. I remember walking towards the B&B where I was staying, and hearing my host giving directions to some tourists on how to get to another decent accommodation. Undoubtedly, she was telling them how to reach her competitors.
- “If my neighbour does well, I will do well too.” Curiously enough, the other lodging is on the same block.
Rambling through the village, I see a lady sweeping the sidewalk wearing a white apron.
- “Good afternoon”, she says. Then, there comes a young, wearing a “Rasta” hair style, riding a bike and stops to hold a conversation with the lady, while helping her with a whimsically entangled vine.
In the night, I decide to walk to the bar opposite the square, a building with vintage decoration. I see a sign reading that on Saturdays, shows are held by Uruguayan and foreign artists, or anyone who might be around and wants to express themselves. This business is managed by a young composer and singer, who has come from Montevideo.
Aiguá is a village in the slopes of Carapé hills, where a variety of tastes, interests and experiences harmoniously blend, despite its small population (around three thousand people).
-What is the secret to this? - I asked my host. She told me that years ago, when Aiguá was founded, it was a strategic place on the way to Rocha, and that the village was split by the single route that joined Montevideo and Rocha. At that time, routes 9 and 10 were but huge dunes. There were splendorous times until other, more direct, routes were built. This led the activity of the village to a dramatic decrease.
In 2011, Aiguá celebrated its bicentenary, and hundreds of people attended the events. A wheelbarrow rally was the most innovative activity. It was amazing and fun; there were carefully ornate wheelbarrows from all over the place. The initiatives suggested and supported by several local institutions became a fully successful celebration. For instance, while it was the high school students’ idea to run a wheelbarrow rally, their parents organized gastronomic activities.
Having shared celebrations and teamwork, some dwellers decided to get together to improve their village. Cultural and artistic events were held, facades were painted, and public spaces remodelled. The objective of “improving the place where we live” was contagious among the population. As a confectionary cook put it: “a tidy shop attracts more people, and this is beneficial for both customers and owners.” Over the last few years, young people have migrated to Aiguá, as opposed to what happens in the rest of the provinces. People take pride in saying “I am from Aiguá.”
Needless to say, in Aiguá communications and “transactions” are manually made for there is no I.T. support which makes platforms so powerful. I also related the place to formerly introduced “B spaces”, where a new collective dimension is being created, mainly based on believing that humans are naturally generous.
Then my focus turned somewhere else, I allowed my mind to go blank and in tune with the sound of cosmos.