The Abundance of Being in Uruguay

02/27/2017 02:18 am ET Updated Mar 28, 2017

Wayne Dyer once remarked that “Abundance is not something we acquire, but rather something we tune into.”

The wisdom in his statement is that abundance is a mindset that we co-create. Often, we limit abundance to financial success when it is so much broader, though even wealthy people can live in scarcity and limitation. I once asked a well-off friend of mine the minimum amount of money his family needed in the bank to feel comfortable. He replied, “$50 million.”

When opportunities for abundance present themselves, we tune by accepting it. An article I wrote for the Huffington post on personal growth while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro led to a generous invitation from the Bodega Garzon winery to explore Uruguay for four days. This experience turned my conception of abundance on its head.

Hydrangeas in full bloom in Jose Ignacio
Hydrangeas in full bloom in Jose Ignacio

You might be thinking, “Uruguay? What’s so great about Uruguay? That’s not on my bucket list – there’s nothing there!”

And that’s precisely why you should go.

The gift of Uruguay for me was the absence of all the doing that had gotten me there, and the ever present being that beckoned.

Nestled between and dwarfed by ambitious neighbors Argentina and Brazil, Uruguay relaxes in the knowing that it is enough. On a continent historically embroiled in unrest, Uruguay’s three million inhabitants reside peacefully.

The 1877 lighthouse protects ships off Playa Brava in Jose Ignacio
The 1877 lighthouse protects ships off Playa Brava in Jose Ignacio

For North Americans seeking sunny, sandy tranquility, Uruguay may be South America’s best-kept secret. Examining a blank map, many would be hard-pressed to identify where the country is. That’s why luminaries such as Mark Zuckerberg, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Shakira frequent these beaches. They can find relative peace, quiet, and a dose of anonymity.

When you arrive, do not linger long in the capital city of Montevideo or the Miami-esque Punta del Este, with its beckoning beach fingers jutting from the sand. The busyness and noise fascinate and entice, but you’re here for the being.

La Mano (The Hand) is a beach sculpture in Punta del Este by Chilean artist Mario Irarrazabal
La Mano (The Hand) is a beach sculpture in Punta del Este by Chilean artist Mario Irarrazabal

Head farther east to the somewhat sleepy beach town of Jose Ignacio, replete with hand painted street signs. Stay at Posada del Faro, which exudes the coziness of a friend’s home. Feast at La Huella, a trendy beach shack, and tantalize your taste buds with caipiroskas, freshly-caught branzino, and the best pulpo you’ve ever eaten. Unplug. Unwind. Breathe.

Even in Uruguay, being comes in different shades. From Christmas through January, the sun-blazed puntas and playas of the Uruguayan coast are teeming and prices are high. Jose Ignacio transforms into the trendiest place on the planet, when high-season waits of four hours to dine next to supermodels are not uncommon.

Tender pulpo and a capiroska — things that make you go mmmmmm
Tender pulpo and a capiroska — things that make you go mmmmmm

If you can forego supermodels, I recommend the shoulder seasons: early December or March, when the Indian summer coincides with the grape harvest. I meandered around town on the hotel bicycles, nibbled fresh fruit poolside in the mornings, and caught up on pleasure reading without the guilt of feeling like I needed to be anywhere other than where I was in the moment. The opportunity for being versus doing was food for my famished soul.

A most relaxing breakfast at Posada del Faro
A most relaxing breakfast at Posada del Faro

Finally, luxuriate at the Bodega Garzon winery, then tour the olive oil pressing facility. Smartly, owner and billionaire Alesandro Bulgheroni never found success by doing what everyone around him was doing.

Instead of trying to out-Malbec Argentina or out-Carmenere Chile, he contemplated what Uruguayan wines could be. He studied the arid inland temperature, coupled with the cooling sea breeze. He mulled over the granite soil, ideal for adequate drainage. He chose tannat and albarinho grapes, planting the first vines in 2008. The resulting wines are tasty, delicious, and affordable.

Enjoying crisp and refreshing wine with friends
Enjoying crisp and refreshing wine with friends

It’s impossible not to get caught up in the excitement and enthusiasm of the Garzon team, who epitomize bonhomie. Soak it in -- these are good people to the core.

My personal highlight was a feast under the stars with Francis Mallmann at his cottage in the lowland pampas of Garzon. The Argentinian celebrity chef is renowned for combining meat and fire in unique ways. As we talked (his team did the cooking), his authenticity shone. He shared stories with us about moving to San Francisco when he was 18, and being enthralled by Joni Mitchell. He recited from memory his favorite poem, the Edgar Allen Poe classic, The Raven. We connected.

Mallmann’s team masterfully manages fire over nine hours to produce a succulent, mouth-watering feast
Mallmann’s team masterfully manages fire over nine hours to produce a succulent, mouth-watering feast

We ended the evening smoking a Cuban cigar and watching a lightning from afar – nature’s fireworks. We had slowed down to be present to each microscopic moment, and it was sublime.

Bonding and breaking bread with my fellow travelers, I experienced more connection than the smartest iPhone and thinnest laptop could ever deliver. In slowing down, I was overwhelmed by a pervasive sense of gratitude and calm.

I recognized the contrast of being in Uruguay with the warp speed in the U.S. that I have let rule my life in the past. Living more fully isn’t how many extra emails I can squeeze out or how many PowerPoint slides I can create.

The boys of Bodega Garzon enjoy another unforgettable meal at La Huella
The boys of Bodega Garzon enjoy another unforgettable meal at La Huella

Abundance of being shows up when I slow down to be present and tune in to my self and others. Abundance is a mindset that exists where we least expect it, and it doesn’t announce itself. We must slow down and tune in.

The absence of busyness or accumulation of ‘stuff’, and the creation of space and being embraced a new definition of what abundance could be.

If you require some pep in your step, consider adding a few days enjoying the cosmopolitan, yet affordable Argentinian gem, Buenos Aires. Or if more nature-minded, explore the breathtaking waterfalls of Foz de Iguazu.

Just save Uruguay for last, because you won’t want to repack your bags after tuning into the abundance of being that awaits you.

Louis Amoroso is a popular success and leadership coach. He assists clients in two ways, through 1:1 coaching, as well as transformational journeys with his company, TravelLight. He splits time between Chicago and Los Angeles. Connect with him at louisamoroso@travellight.world, and share your own experience of abundance here!

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