I spent a year living in Uruguay – a tiny country of three million near the southern tip of South America. In many ways, it’s a lot like its neighbor, Argentina: an outpost of southern European culture and cuisine, marooned in the New World. Wine, beef and pasta reign. Futbol is the national passion, and Spanish is spoken with an Italian inflection the locals call castellano. Yet Uruguay has an eccentric streak all its own. And perhaps nowhere is that more evident that the seaside, new-age capital Piriapolis. Built by a Kabbalist real estate developer a century ago, the planned community continues to attract mystics today owing to its “good vibrations.” I checked out the scene for BC Business Magazine.
Piriapolis, Uruguay: South America’s new-age capital
By Remy Scalza for BC Business Magazine
Carlos Rodriguez sees dead people. “I’m more in the next world than this one,” says Rodriguez, a mystical tour guide in Uruguay’s quirkiest beach town, the new-age Piriápolis. A diminutive South American country of three million wedged between Brazil and Argentina, Uruguay remains largely untouristed, nonglobalized and, in the best sense of the word, odd.
Take Piriápolis: set on a sandy coast one hour outside the capital city of Montevideo, it’s a fairly unassuming seaside town at first blush – leafy lanes, boardwalks and the like. But under its suburban exterior are enough dark legends and Byzantine conspiracy theories to fill a Dan Brown novel.
It all started in 1890, when local real estate baron Francisco Piria bought 7,000 acres of undeveloped coastline in pursuit of his twin dreams: to make a load of money selling vacation homes and to build a utopian city based on Kabbalah, the mystical set of Jewish beliefs.
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