The UN Really Wants You to Vacation in an Abandoned Meat Factory
Nothing says fun in the sun quite like the guarantee of tetanus and a metric shit-ton of disgruntled cow ghosts.
Photo via Flickr userSeniju
You've probably heard of World Heritage Sites. They are places of extraordinary cultural and physical significance. Monuments of human achievement and ingenuity meant to instill awe and wanderlust. Places like the Taj Mahal in India. Angkor Wat in Cambodia. The Pyramids of Giza in Egypt.
Designated by UNESCO—the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization—these World Heritage Sites are places of great honor to the patrimony of nations and civilizations. Exactly like Fray Bentos, the decrepit shell of a meatpacking plant in Uruguay.
Wha-what the tits?
Yes. UNESCO has just designated twenty-seven new cultural sites to their much-hallowed list. One is Ephesus, which has ancient ruins that rival any in Greece. Another is Fray Bentos, a Uruguayan meat pie manufacturing plant that is now pretty much a burnt-out industrial hellscape.
Anyone up for a trip to the Southern Hemisphere? C'mon guys, it's totally like Willy Wonka! Nothing says fun in the sun quite like the guarantee of tetanus and a metric shit-ton of disgruntled cow ghosts.
The Fray Bentos Cultural-Industrial Landscape, as it is now being called, is the current manifestation of a factory that opened in 1859 by the German firm Liebig's Extract of Meat Company. It fed the country's troops during the First World War. In 1924—after the Germans lost the war—the plant passed into British hands and started to export frozen beef to the Queen's empire. In fact, the site is locally known as Frigorífico Anglo—or British Fridge by our awesome translation. Meat pies enjoyed by generations of Brits—we're talking steak and kidney puddings and more—originated in this South American factory town.
Has UNESCO gone mad adding this factory site to the list that includes the Great Barrier Reef, the Acropolis, and Machu Picchu? Possibly.
On the other hand, Fray Bentos fueled the growth of the British Empire and is indicative of the industrialization of food. This is the town that made the canned meat that helped the Allies win World War II. The food that fed the British monarchy. The shepherd's pie that helped colonize the world in England's tea-tainted image.
In fact, the Prince of Wales himself had this to say when he visited the town of Fray Bentos in 1999: "I was brought up on it, I remember eating corned beef until it came out of my ears."
Still not exactly my go-to when I think, World Heritage Site. I'm more in the Genghis Khan's birthplace camp than the modern Meat-cropolis. But maybe that's just me being all "weird" about centering my vacations around mechanized death.
As you've probably already guessed, UNESCO seems to be leaning toward electing more industrial and commercial sites to the famed list, so long as they have historic importance. For instance, a series of Japanese industrial sites—supposedly meant to show how Japan transformed into an industrial powerhouse—were also recently added to the esteemed list.
It is just me, or do we seriously need X to the Z to pimp our world heritage sites?
The Uruguayan abbatoir apparently now functions as a museum. Visitors are able to learn about the whole process of meat sourcing, processing, packing, and dispatching. But this place was in business in the days way before Temple Grandin made her mark in humane cow slaughter. Here, the cows climbed to the top of a wooden ramp and—according to local guide who spoke with the Telegraph—met their fate the old-fashioned way: "You English were so ingenious in your use of gravity. The cow would walk up here to the very top of the factory and then would be killed [in view of other cows] and turned into leather hides, meat, and corned beef, which was processed on lower floors."
Sounds great, right? So, plan the trip! Take your friends! Nothing better than a pleasant and relaxing vacation at a slaughterhouse-slash-meat-packing plant to keep summer spirits high.
Or should we do the Taj Mahal instead?
You know, if this is the standard that cuts it as far as World Heritage Sites go, my cat vomited up an absolutely riveting hairball the other day. Just saying—hit me up, UNESCO.