Wednesday 27 March 2013

The cardboard-on-grass tobogganers of Montevideo, Uruguay

Some have heard of Jamaican bobsledders, and of Canadians who play golf in the snow.

Now there are the cardboard-on-grass tobogganers of Montevideo, Uruguay.

During a recent visit we went for a walk along the Uruguayan capital’s lovely coastline, which is scalloped with sandy beaches. It’s not the best swimming, but people were out sunbathing, walking their dogs, jogging, cycling, rollerblading, and...toboganning.

On cardboard boxes. On grassy slopes interrupted with stones.

Call Children's Aid
And not drug addled teenagers (we might have said “Hooray!”), but entire families dressed in decent clothes (white slacks!?) and pulling out high-end digital cameras to take snaps of all the almost fun.

But you can’t take too many snaps, Pops, because soon your young son is kinda unhappy. He is bruised. He is beaten. Three runs in, and he’s ready to call it quits.
This is not an isolated phenomenon. We saw three separate groups in one area. They didn’t look stoned, and appeared by their affect and manner of dress to be otherwise normally functioning humans.

We took some photos of the inevitable failures. The lack of fun and the complete hopelessness of the endeavour itself seemed to be a source of amusement.

Do they do this every weekend?

“Grab the cardboard boxes kids, we’re gonna go tobbogan on some grass and rocks!”

Whereupon, after every outing, they return commenting on how hard it was on their asses, and how you couldn’t really go that fast, or even move properly, and the cardboard tore and...and the amnesia slowly, slowly sets in to smooth the way for the next weekend’s attempt.

Hooked on Advil?
We’re stumped. Montevideo is a charming city, with leafy streets and a casual air (a Nike track suit town, as compared to Buenos Aires’Adidas). The people are gregarious, and by all accounts stop on red lights and do not wander into traffic.

Could it be a form of post-Catholic, bourgeois self-flagellation, a la “The Pope may be an Argentine, but God is a Uruguayan”, or the 63 year world cup drought?

We’ll likely never know.

Happy at first

Dude...Bad idea!
(TE Wilson is the author of Mezcalero, a Detective Sánchez novel.)

Twitter: @TimothyEWilson
Email: lapoliticaeslapolitica [at] gmail [dot] com

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1 comment:

  1. Hell, me and my buddies were doing this back in the 50's in Montreal on the sides of highway overpasses. The danger wasn't the rocks, it was in not being able to stop before sliding onto the road.