Ohhhhhh, Uruguay! Glorious, Gorgeous, Warm Uruguay And My Celebrity Wool Jacket!
December 7, 2013 by admin
I hope you regular readers didn’t fear for me, just because it’s been two weeks since my last post announcing my imminent departure for my new life in Uruguay. I arrived ten days ago and have been very, very busy ever since. At last, here’s my first jumbled description to fill that blank spot in your mind about my arrival in this great South American country. First, a few pointers:
We’ve all been pronouncing it wrong. It’s not “You’re-a-Gway.” It’s “Ooor-a-ghway.” Just mildly clear your throat midword, though they’ll forgive you if you merely say “Oooraguay” with a hard g. They forgive you anyway. Uruguayans are such wonderful people!
Okay, here’s a quiz! Where is Uruguay? Don’t be embarrassed if you guessed that it’s on the Pacific, between Colombia and Ecuador, like my daughter did when she heard that I was moving there. As a matter of fact, Uruguay is three-quarters of the way down to the bottom of South America, on the opposite, Atlantic, side; right under Brazil and next to Argentina. Oh, go get a map and look it up. You’ll find me in Montevideo with glorious blue water on two sides, basking in the summer season.
I’ll share a few excerpts from my journal:
“Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 2013 – The overnight flight was a pleasure, though sleep was scarce. I was so interested in what the Uruguayan people would be like and I knew that a majority of the passengers must be natives, though there was no way, at all, to tell us apart. Except that they spoke Spanish. What a lovely atmosphere filled that plane, with every human connection between those strolling the aisles! I felt surrounded by a jumbo-set-sized family. “Ineffably Wonderful!” came to my mind, though I’ve never heard that term before. Laughter, kindled eyes, and kind helpfulness comes naturally to them. It’s obvious that these Uruguayans are happy people. They like each other and I like them!
I must mention the power of my new Norwegian suit jacket, which I now call “General Jacket.” It’s tailored of navy-blue wool and bears double gold braid around the collar and sleeves. I think of it as my Space Commander jacket. Indeed, people do seem to want to salute or at least to do a double take. On the plane, when I complimented a woman on her lovely sweater, a seatmate mentioned my jacket in return. A nearby man gave a small salute by way of definition. We laughed and agreed. Wish I’d had a better story than “I bought it in Oslo!” Something like: “Oh, I’m simply hopping a ride to Earth from Andromeda”.
Just now, in the airport ladies’ room, the attendant asked me, in Spanish, what the stripes meant and we had a funny time pretending that I was a pilot, because navy wool and gold braid is exactly what they all wear. The only difference is that my stripes are a tad closer to the elbow, I’m way past retirement age…..and oh yes…. I can’t fly!”
Since I arrived last week, I have successfully found my way around the city. First, by getting nicely lost in the Tres Cruces (Three Crosses) area where my arrival hotel and a marvelous bus terminal are located. From that station, one can catch an ultra-fancy double-decker headed anywhere in this compact country, or even neighboring Brazil, Argentina and Chile. Tickets are reasonable and travel times short. Above the terminal is a big, modern mall, which I hear isn’t very large according to local standards. Well, I got happily lost in it 100% of the time. I’ll lack for nothing, that’s for sure!
Sunday, I attended the regular luncheon meeting of the local expat community at Club Banco Republica, an athletic club and restaurant right on the Rambla walkway, overlooking the beach and waterfront. It’s a drop-in meet-up organized by Sonia Duarte, of Total Uruguay, an expat assistance agency. The group has been functioning, non-stop, for seven years and is a great way for foreigners here to get acquainted. Ten of us attended this time and both Sonia and Terry Doering, an American realtor with Your Real Estate Team, immediately agreed to help me achieve some points on my bucket list. That afternoon, Terry showed me an available apartment, which I will move into on December 15th.
On Monday, Sonia helped me drop off my virus-infected computer at a repair shop and to buy a cell phone. In the way that such ironies happen, my faithful little computer had picked up its bug in Florida from some virus protection software that I’d stupidly bought (IObit). I had to look at this great inconvenience philosophically, imagining that it symbolized a “getting a clean start.” Now, for only a chunk of money and a week’s worth of wasted computer time, I’m back to normal with a clean-brained, well backed-up, computer.
Thursday, when my five days at the Hotel Tres Cruces ran out, I transferred to a lovely new hostel in Ciudad Vieja, the Old Town Quarter of Montevideo. This delightful, new Los Jardines Colgantes de Babilonia (The Hanging Gardens of Babylonia) Hostel is one of the most pleasant that I’ve ever stayed in…. and that’s saying a whole lot, because I have stayed in hundreds of hostels, worldwide, by this time. Bunkbeds are $20 per night and I have my two-bunk room all to myself and am able both to sleep and get lots of serious work done in this peace and quiet. Plants, greenery and trailing ferns hang from high ceilings, above black and white tile floors, serenaded by Chopin and Beethoven, in this lovingly restored mansion.
Ahhhh, more about this easy life in a few days. Do stay tuned!