The Expat community is a group of loosely connected people that basically have only 2 things in common. One commonality is that they are foreign born, not native to the country that they are living in. An exception would be, they have lived so long elsewhere that they now consider themselves strangers to their birthplace. The second uniting factor in an Expat community is that they live in the same country you have also chosen to live in.
I really don't like the word Expat which is short for Expatriate. It sounds so Anti country and radical but it doesn't mean that at all. The word is taken from Latin origins, and it only means: ex (out of) and patria (country/Fatherland). There are many reasons to be living outside of your birthplace whether temporarily or permanently. Jobs, Schooling, circumstances and personal choice all can be a factor. Wally and I have chosen to retire outside of the country where we were raised. We have been an "Expat" on several other occasions by living at one time in Germany and another time in Portugal. I'd like to include Guam in the list as it was a pretty different living experience, however it was a territory of the USA so I can't count that as an expat experience.
The phenomenon of people living outside of their native country is growing hence there are many expat communities in many different countries. Why do I call these group of strangers a community? For the same reason there is a "Little Italy" and a "China town" in almost every major city like NYC, LA, San Francisco etc... And several Spanish barrios in the USA and in every country for that matter.. The shared experience of facing a new and foreign (to you) culture with different customs and language can be daunting! The process of immigration to a country is remarkably similar however. The same paperwork, the same fact finding process, and the same general life challenges can all be made much easier by asking questions of those who have done it before you.
The first thing to do before moving to a new country is research. This can be through acquaintances, family and friends who have been there, to online resources, like web sites and blogs like ours! Surprisingly, the local embassy in your country is probably not as knowledgeable as someone actually living in the other country might be. We have heard of many times when an Embassy said "Sure you can import your car!" When every Expat would have told you "No way!" and been right! Of course, you need to get proper visas and other paperwork from your local embassies but to learn practical applications on how to import your dog to shipping issues, an Expat can really help guide you.
All of the above information is a long winded background to help you understand why most Expats immediately seek out other expats when they arrive and join a online forum, a virtual community, in the new country they have moved to. We joined one called Southron started just 4 1/2 years ago here in Uruguay. It's free and you never really have to meet the other Expats but you can write to them and ask questions. Usually there is a group that meets from once a month to once a week at some restaurant. It's a loose standing arrangement for whoever wants to meet face to face. People pass out their e-mails and phone numbers (if they wish).
It was through Candy, writing on the forum board that we learned about a new Mexican Restaurant in a town nearby. Now this is vital information because our group of expats knows that food is a very important issue. Uruguayan food is Great! Your basic meat and potatoes. Yes, potatoes not rice. This is not your typical spicy Latin, beans and rice type of place, that's Californian /Mexican fare. While Uruguayans eat good food it soon begins to become rather monotonous. Bland and mild tasting. Uruguayans don't eat spicy foods! Most restaurants here serve the exact same meals. Loosely adapted from an Italian heritage but now a watered down version. Pizza (not Chicago or NYC style, too bad!) lasagna that has slightly transformed and Milanese (thin breaded fried chicken or other meat). About 10 standard items can be found at every eating establishment here in addition to the asado ( slow roasted barbecue meats). Now the food is pleasant just never changing. The USA being the Ultimate Expat location in the past for immigrants from around the world has spoiled us eating wise. In any given week I would go to "Panda Express " for pseudo Chinese/Teriyaki food to "Vince's Italian restaurant" truly flavorful Italian food, to any number of Greek, Thai, Armenian, etc.... You get the picture now and Expats do too!
29th of the month despite the sign saying it was a Mexican restaurant they were advertising "Hoy Noquis" or Today Noquis. Click on the highlighted 29th and you'll be reminded of what Noqui day is.
The owner of the place is Philipe or Phil, he is Mexican and his wife is Uruguayan (that makes him an expat here in Uruguay) they have just opened in the town of Las Tocas. Which means that this place is much closer to us than going all the way to Piriápolis to another newly opened Mexican restaurant we reported on. Hey, what's up with the sudden interest in Mexican food? I'm glad that Uruguay is starting to be introduced to new foods. While I don't want the tiny influx of incoming expats to change Uruguay, variety is always nice. I won't say it's the spice of life because Uruguayans in general shy away from spice but I think they will enjoy it if given the chance!
We heard they stayed open until 11:00pm. We arrived at 10:30 and sure enough we could order. Inside looks like a little deli which we thought Oh no, it's selling the same Uruguayan menu. but Philipe is smart he did that as a backup plan and it worked because many people came in and out that night. He assured us the Mexican food was listed on the wall. He speaks Spanish of course being from Mexico and also speaks English. He freely conversed with his clients gently explaining to them what a chimichanga was and telling them yes it had meat in it a must for any Uruguayan. We had a beef one and it was good (chicken was also a choose)! I had some tasty Flautas with chicken inside. Wally had something called a Gringa, that was really a quesadilla (tortilla and cheese wrap, this one had chicken as well). We would have preferred something else. The salsa was good, the chimichangas were good and the flautas tasted good not exactly California crunchy but tasty. I would order them again! Next time we will try his burritos, tacos and nachos with the works! We took a picture after everything was already mostly eaten.
Word of mouth is a powerful advertising means and expats know the value of information.