Rivera, Uruguay, has a population: 65,000. It is located on the border with Brazil. On the Brazil side is the town, Sant'Ana do Livramento. These two towns area one metropolitan area with no visible, physical border dividing the two countries. The people are free to cross the international border freely. If one wants to go further into either country they must check in with immigrations for the normal process. The International Plaza, inaugurated in 1943, straddles the border and is shared by both cities and is said to be the only international plaza in the world.
The founding and development of the town was long and arduous due to its location and the local indigenous population, as well as smugglers. But, over some years their was finally talk of forming a town across the river from the already existing town of Santa Ana do Livramento, Brazil. It was in 1862 that the then President of Uruguay approved the law to create the town called Villa de Ceballos. By 1867, the town had not yet been inaugurated but it already had a public school and a population of more than 300 people. Finally, in July 1867, the plans and layout for the city were drawn up, and the name Rivera was given to the new town. The last two decades of the 19th century were fraught with difficulties for the new town, including cattle smuggling, military and civil conflicts with authorities in Brazil, smallpox, typhus, and dysentery. But, by 1912, the town was officially changed to the status of a city, with a population of around 10,000.
The economy is supported by forestry, rice production, cattle and sheep, mining, vineyards and wines, and tourism.
Rivera has a humid subtropical climate. The average daytime high of 24° C (75° F), and the nightly average low of 13° C (57° F). The city's elevation averages 223 meters (732 feet). The average yearly rainfall amounts to 1639 mm (65 inches) of rain.
So, my impressions: Rivera is a very pleasant border city, one of the best I've visited. The town is clean, there's no huge crowds or terrible traffic, the border with Brazil is open, and there's a park directly on the border (several blocks long). Many of the people speak Portuñol (Portugues-Spanish mix), but I did come across quite a few who speak "normal" Spanish. There are lots, and I mean LOTS, of duty-free stores, though they do have inventories more-or-less limited to alchol and things related to cell phones, and a few other sundries. The town is also quiet except for the occasional irritatingly noisy motorcycle, but there is no horn-honking and drivers are nice enough to stop and let pedestrians cross the road (something that doesn't happen in other South American countries, particularly Colombia). I like this town, but the climate here is one that gets rather cold in the winter (June - August), no snow, but cold, near freezing, none-the-less. That I don't like.
My goal is to find a new place to live. So to reach that goal, I am traveling most of South America, visiting the countries of Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Chile, passing through Argentina, visiting Paraguay, passing through a bit of Brazil, and finally visiting Uruguay. I have a list of towns, about 70 that meet these qualifications: Cities with average day temperatures of 22-28° C (72-83° F) and night temps of 14° C (57° F) and higher; and a population between 28,000-300,000. I analyzed climate and population data of around 700 towns in the countries mentioned above and then pulled out the ones that meet the previously mentioned criteria, which leaves about 70. My preference leans towards towns of less than 100,000 people. And, now that I have visited more than 30 towns/cities, I've decided I will probably want an inland town. I love the beach and walking in the warm water, but getting sunburned is just too easy, even on a cloudy day. At least here in Ecuador. I've also decided that any town with more than 100,000 population will be too big. I've decided that any small town/city (less than around 80,000 population) that meets the temp specifications and has a supermarket and ATM is one worth considering to live in.
My goal is to visit the towns and discover which one calls out to me - "Chip, Chip, make your new home here, this is your new home town". That hasn't happened yet, but the towns listed below are very close to giving me that feeling. At any rate, I am not visiting tourist attractions or archeological sites, etc, those will have to wait for another trip through South America.
At this point in my journey, I had ten towns on my Top 10 list, but I narrowed it down to four:
- Tingo Maria, Peru
- Moyobamba, Peru
- Catamayo, Ecuador
- Puyo, Ecuador
In my travels in Ecuador, I visited 32 towns/cities. In Peru, I visited 26 towns/cities; in Chile, only five towns; and in Argentina, I visited 14 towns. I visited 12 cities in Paraguay, and in Brazil, two.
Next up: Sant'Ana do Livramento, Brazil.