It’s cold out, and raining hard in Montevideo today. I know this because I can see the slick streets with black umbrellas drifting over them, I can see the tree branches tossing silently and I can see the power lines swaying sedately in the wind. I can see all of this from the window of a cafe where I am warm and dry, and where if I’m lucky, I can draw out this 75-peso glass of wine for a few hours while I read and write and avoid the weather.
It shouldn’t be hard today, I’m slyly people watching and finding a few other couples here hiding from the rain, in amongst rich-looking businessmen and two girls who must be old friends. There’s an old couple here on a date and a chic-looking woman absorbed by a book.
I picked this cafe because it’s full of natural light and high ceilings and books about philosophy, cooking, religion, and art, all in Spanish. I’m practicing Spanish too, working through Paula by Isabel Allende. I think I manage a page about every fifteen minutes. I don’t mind the slow pace. This isn’t a day to hurry back outside.
Rain can be a challenge for the traveler. The thing to do in a new city is walk the streets, watch people, see the place from different angles and do the famous things you’re supposed to do. But who wants to do all that in the freezing rain and wind? Rainy days are days for staying inside.
So I’m staying in the cafe with my 75-peso glass of wine and my book and my Spanish dictionary, and as I watch the locals hide from the weather, I’m starting to realize that I’m seeing more richness and life in here than I would if I hurried around those famous sites soggy and freezing and feeling miserable. There are worse ways to spend a rainy afternoon than hanging in a cool cafe with the locals.