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The McDermott Scholars Award covers all expenses of a superb four-year academic education at The University of Texas at Dallas, in concert with a diverse array of intensive extracurricular experiences, including internships, travel, and cultural enrichment.

Friday, March 05, 2010

McDermotts conquer Colonia

After experiencing and channeling the frenzied fervor of the match, and returning home to a particularly welcome midnight meal of spaghetti with vodka cream sauce (I had four bowls), the rest of the weekend was a peaceful sojourn across the Rio de la Plata to Argentina’s neighbor Uruguay.
On Saturday morning, we awoke to fog, cloud, and mist and made our way to the Buquebus ferry terminal, armed with tickets bought from the previous day, and a desire to have a relaxing weekend after a week of class and the aforementioned football match. The ferry terminal was a beautiful modern building of a blue and yellow interior with modern fixtures that, in conjunction with the sleek enclosed gangway, augmented the terminal’s resemblance to a futuristic spaceport that put most airports to shame. Indeed, once onboard, our collective desire to sleep was repeatedly denied by the incessant Buquebus jingle that vaguely resembled the theme song of Futurama.
After a smooth and fast hour-long journey across the Rio de La Plata, we arrived in Uruguay at the creatively named colonial town of Colonia. Its complete name is Colonia del Sacramento, but we all found the directness of the name amusing. Our main goal was to visit the historic town center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its picturesque cobblestone streets and historic buildings surrounded by the remains of the old fort that defended the city.
Walking towards the town center, we couldn’t help but notice the tranquility of the surrounding atmosphere. It was windy and cloudy, but gentle and not oppressive. There was a calm beauty within the tone of grey that seemed to cover all that we could see. True, the ferry had just unloaded a horde of tourists looking to escape the bustle of Buenos Aires, but they all slowly spread throughout the historic center and the surrounding city, so we were not alone in our relaxing exploration, but neither were we overwhelmed by the typical crowds.
With the help of the many convenient information boards scattered throughout the city, we learned that Colonia was originally founded by the Portuguese. But Colonia was then conquered by the Spanish and then wrestled back and forth repeatedly between the hands of the Portuguese, the Spanish, and even the Brazilians for a few years, before finally ending up in the ownership of an independent Uruguay.
Eyeing the well preserved gate and wall that once defended the city, we naturally saw ourselves, the Eugene McDermott Scholars, as worthy successors in the long lineage of those who conquered the fort of Colonia.
The gate was already lowered – clearly, this city didn’t take its defense very seriously – for less valiant tourists, but we decided that the best route to enter the city was to scale the walls…of the lowered gate.

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