See you at the Disco

Trip Start Sep 03, 2011
Trip End Jun 04, 2012

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Where I stayed
Palazio Durazno

Flag of Uruguay  ,
Thursday, December 1, 2011

HOLA familia and friends!

We have been thoroughly enjoying the pace, weather and relaxation that Montevideo has offered us. Our apartment, Palazio Durazno is a marbled and art deco styled apartment building that has two double gated elevators that make me feel like I'm in an Agatha Christie "Poirot" episode every time I step into the lift. Our third floor apartment looks out onto the street to other apartment buildings of various vintages in different stages disrepair. We enjoy our view of the water and the Ramblas from our windows. On Saturday and Sundays afternoons  we are fortunate enough to be audience to the Candombe dancers and drummers that are practicing for the Carnavale. You hear the drums approaching from three to four blocks away and you wait in anticipation for them to arrive at your corner. Watching them from the balcony you do so with envy, there is little girls up to middle aged women dancing and leading the way for the drummers (they have a lot of one way streets so the traffic just goes around the block). When you go down to the street the drum beat is so loud you can feel it against your chest.  It takes everything inside of me to not try and join in and embarrass myself, oh to not be so inhibited. I can dance the steps in our apartment but I just can't shake my hips like they do.(My Spanish is a bit the same, it's such a melodic sounding language, you would like to think you can say the words but you don't want to do it for fear of butchering it!) Mornings we, the kids and I have been walking, running and getting some sun, so I am feeling rather healthy, it's quite nice (even if I am a little sunburnt). 

Monday we hired a car to drive up the coast to look at the beaches, we drove up the rest of the 15 kilometres of Ramblas, then headed up to Punta del Este (point of the east?) along their tolled highway. Amazingly enough the Uruguayan countryside reminded us of the Australian countryside with their eucalyptus trees, pine trees, cows and sheep. Punta del Este is another resort town, so they were getting their roads and repairing apartments getting ready for the holidaying South American that are due to head to the area in their summer break. One of our aims of the day had been to find a nice beach to stop at and swim, we found some nice spots but being the cautious rip watchers we are the boys got in then we we dragged them out just in case  (yes we're experts we've watched the Australian ad campaigns!) We drove until we got to Laguna Garzon and then got on a small punt that took us across the lagoon to a dirt road. We were unsure how much it was going to cost us, so we lined up behind the other four cars only to be pleasantly surprised after an animated exchange of Spanish and English that both parties barely understood, that we realized it was for free. We also received an unexpected helicopter escort with a television camera  crew as we set off on the punt so we were taking photos of the escort and waving while they filmed us. Once we got across we followed the coast until we got to a part of the road that had boulder sized pot holes that would make mince meat of our little Chevrolet rental so we dissappointedly turned around and decided to head back to Montevideo. We had had a nice day and by the time we reached the Ramblas, the sun was going down and we realized that it was the time of day Montevideo residents took to the Ramblas to stroll with their families, exercise and enjoy the waterfront. After the boys got mugged we had made point of not going out once it started to get dark so we had not ventured out very far in the evening but after seeing the locals out and about we are thinking twice about it. But the sunset was exquisite and once again quite a sight to behold especially being on the East coast.

On Tuesday we set off at 8.15am for our 2 hour drive to Colonia  de Sacramento. Once again on our journey out there we were greeted by a very Australian looking countryside except for the Spanish signs and Spanish styled homes. Colonia is where the Portuguese colony set up shop in 1680 when they were restricted by the Spanish rule in the area. They needed their own port to import and export without the Spanish bossing them around and taking their cut. From then to 1822 the colony was a disputed area between Spain and Portugal with Brazil having a go also. Then in 1828 it became part of Uruguay. The historic quarter of Colonia still has cobblestone
 streets and homes and buildings, it is stunning!

Wednesday was our first day of rain and cold. It was quite warm yesterday which brought in a fantasical lightning and thunder show last night but left us with strong winds and squalls of rain for the day. The Ramblas had huge waves crashing up the wall today, spraying the road, it was quite the  incredible sight. We also had a new friend that we made at church on Sunday over for dinner, her name is Natalia and she came over and politely ate our food and spoke English with her and we quizzed her about all things Uruguayan and checked our Spanish. It was a great evening, that she is coming back on Friday to have dinner with us and the missionaries(yes we are feeding them even on holiday) and she is going to bring us some matte` for us to try(a Uruguayan herbal/grass drink they all carry around in a flask and drink from a wooden cup of sorts and a metal straw/filter).

The Disco is the local supermarket we shop at. Prices are reasonable but it is handy ( it is at the back of our block) and we can find most things we need not the variety, quantity or quantity you can find at home in Australia or in the USA  but we are not paying $5.00 a kilo for tomatoes or even $1.99 for bananas more like $1.50 a kilo for tomatoes and $1.00 for bananas and even less at the street markets. Campbell likes to volunteer to go down to the Disco so he can see or say hello to a young Uruguaya ( pronounced something like: ooroogwasha for a female and ooroogwasho for a male) girl called Gabriella. We like to tease him by saying " isn't she the grumpy one". Though I don't think he has gotten past just saying "HOLA".

It cool to see the Contrasts of old world ie. Horse and cart drivers picking up rubbish/ recylable items with  hustle and bustle of modern world, joggers modern cars in the streets. Uruguay feels like it is in a still in a state of recovery, and it appears to be slow going yet they are still managing to just keep up but not as fast as the other bigger countries of South America and Uruguayans are proud of their uniqueness. According to Campbell our family information giver Uruguay was in it's height of progress in  the 1940s and 1950s hence the array of art deco style buildings in various conditions. Then due to a  a collapse in government etc as per other South American countries at the time the Military government came in leaving the maintenance of the country behind while it tried to get things in order.  

We are  loving the pace and peace here. Missing familia and amigos though!

Buenos Dias amigos!

PS. Keep forgetting to mention our fire cracking happy neighbors who keep letting of those little suckers throughout the night, we always get startled and at first thought because they are so loud you think it is gun fire. The guys who let them off think it's hilarious especially when it sets off the car alarms. 

Weather is better today, and only 4 days before we leave for Santiago, Chile.
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Tina on

I forgot to apologise for any inaccuracies in our entry!! Feel free to correct me if am misinformed.

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