Montevideo is not as loud as its South American counterparts – nearby megacities like Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro manage to overshadow the modest country of Uruguay as a whole. But nevertheless, there it lies dwarfed, pressed between two gargantuan neighbors. Argentina is world-famous for its unwavering pride (which often translates into blazing arrogance), rough politics, and venerated national heroes like Che Guevara and Evita. Bring up Brazil, and discussion about soccer, sexy natives, and the world’s most festive carnival are soon to follow.  But when Uruguay comes into question, if it comes up at all, the only thing that might be mentioned is the beach along the southeastern coast and, more recently, Diego Forlan. And honestly, it’s a shame. What Uruguay lacks in touristic attractiveness is supplemented with a genuine and humbling Latin American experience – one where the beaten paths are only lightly treaded and the unbeaten paths are grounds conducive to life-altering exploration and discovery:

An hour outside of Tacuarembo, a gaucho counts his sheep. They are his livelihood. When the vast, desolate plains take his mind, they are his company. He spends the full day on his horse riding and herding. Short-cuts aside, there is honor in honest work.

Gauchos don’t talk much. They mostly just smoke and stare off into the distance. A Romantic dream comes to fruition here as he lights a cigarette, jabs the horse with his heel, and rides until he is a distant drop engulfed by the sun.