An Uruguay test run

Paula has pointed out to me that folks in Uruguay are at risk of sustaining cumulative trauma injuries that are perhaps unique to the culture here. Throughout our day trip to Colonia del Sacramento we saw scores of men and women exhibiting the same behaviors. The left arm is bent at the elbow, and the forearm is pressing sideways, holding a thermos bottle against the chest, and the left hand encircles a “bomba”, which is a special cup for drinking mate (my keyboard will not type diacriticals so I’ll need to explain that is pronounced “mahtay”). Mate is a caffeinated herbal drink that appears to be an essential aspect of daily life, and the accoutrement for making and drinking is a critical fashion accessory.

We searched on-line for instructions to prepare Mate, hoping we could try it out in our apartment instead of coffee. However, the process appears to be so complex and subject to error we decided to leave it to professionals.

We started our day trip to Uruguay by walking about twenty blocks to the ferry terminal, weaving through construction detours and crossing wide streets filled with rush hour traffic. The ferry was scheduled to leave at 9 AM and we had to be there an hour early, which was a bit of a challenge since we had forgotten to go to bed at a reasonable hour the night before. We ended up getting to the station a bit late, but there were no crowds and we were able to clear immigration and customs quite quickly. They have it set up so you can get your exit stamp from Argentina at one booth and then the entry stamp for Uruguay at the next one.

The ferry crosses the Rio de la Plata in about an hour. There were a few clouds to break the direct sunlight, and the shadows cast on the brown water made interesting patterns on the surface. We watched the skyline of Buenos Aires sink slowly below the horizon as we moved closer to Uruguay. By the time we arrived we could only see the tops of some of the taller buildings.

Colonia had not come fully to life for the day by the time the ferry arrived. Although some of the restaurants were open, very few of he shops were ready for business. We hd noticed a light house near the shore when we arrived and headed in that direction.

As we approached we saw that many tourists were already on the observation decks and determined we should do that sooner rather than later and paid the 60 peso admission (about 1.8 USD) for the two of us. The view from the top gave us a good orientation to the municipality.

We then began our search for breakfast, ultimately settling on a small cafe near the water. We were unaware when we ordered that Uruguay has a 22% IVA, which is refunded if you pay with an international credit card. We chose a cafe that did not take credit cards. Apparently the Uruguay government is trying to remove obstacles to tourism, and has implemented a number of processes to lower the taxes tourists pay. I guess use of an international credit card is a fairly straightforward way to distinguish visitors from residents. In a way, it seems unfair to their citizens, unless they have a way of discounting prices to relieve some of the extra tax burden for supporting the recreation of relatively wealthy foreigners.

Following breakfast, which we supplemented with a good IPA, we went for a walk to a nearby cultural center where we immediately fell asleep on the grass. That was really refreshing. I could really get into siestas.

The cultural center was in the ruins of an ancient bastion.

We then took a long walk to a park that showed up on Google Maps, and when we got there we found it to be a forest that was not really a park. The cobblestones on some of the streets had been replaced by random sized and shaped rocks, some of which were clearly petrified wood.

We returned to the old part of the city and searched for a plaza we had seen earlier in the day. It has a fountain, and so far is the only fountain we have seen on our journey. That is really strange. Given the large numbers of Italian immigrants to South America in the 19th and 20th centuries we’d expect to see fountains every couple blocks. (Yes, that’s an ethnic joke. Please don’t get offended.)

Here are a few random photos of Colonia

We had hoped to watch the sunset from the beach, but needed to get to the ferry terminal for our return trip and ended up in the terminal as the sun set. We could see it was very colorful, but our view was blocked by the departure ramps.

During the crossing back to Buenos Aires we watched a lightning storm over Argentina. Each flash of lighting illuminated the cloud on the horizon with a reddish glow.

After arriving in BsAs we found a fairly direct walk back to our neighborhood. As we passed under a highway overpass, we saw an open excavation behind a fence that we had figured was a construction site but then noticed it was something of a memorial. It apparently was the excavation of a mass grave and a memorial to the “desaparecidos” from the dirty war. The monument contained photographs of the persons whose bodies were recovered there, a stark reminder of the ugly past of the dictatorship.

Seeing the mass grave was something of a “buzz kill”.

We stopped in a neighborhood restaurant for dinner and was treated to some excellent Salsa music.

5 thoughts on “An Uruguay test run

  1. Jim January 23, 2019 / 4:16 pm

    Really good pics!


    • aworthwhileillusion January 23, 2019 / 4:20 pm

      Thanks, Jim. That means a lot coming from you. I really value your opinions.


  2. Connie Whitley January 23, 2019 / 9:52 pm

    Beautiful photos! We look forward each day to hearing about your adventures.


  3. margo a maher February 3, 2019 / 2:44 pm

    Yes, the pictures in this piece are luminous. Thank you!


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