Our last night in Uruguay

I don’t know how I got the reputation for being a sarcastic SOB probably it is because I earned it. I say that because I realized the title of my recent post about Montevideo being a “civilized place” has probably been misconstrued by at least ten or so people who know me well. I did not mean that to be taken that I thought it would not be a civilized place, but that there are many things about it that I no longer expect to see in our current experience of civilization. I have been pleasantly surprised.

The large number of bookstores is one of those things. Bookstores have really gotten out of fashion in the US. Here there are so many it is impossible to keep track. Some of the multi-story buildings are quite old and possess a elegant ambiance.

Although the majority of titles are Spanish there are large sections of books in other languages as well. And usually there is a cafe with a good selection of dishes.

We also encounter numerous newspaper kiosks that national and international editions plus periodicals and books. I read that Uruguay has the highest literacy rate in Latin America (something like 97.6 percent) and a highly educated population. It appears the written word is valued here to a degree I do not see at home.

Here is a page from yesterday’s news.

I can’t find a way to rotate this photo in the app I’m using (I’m doing this on my phone, you know). This entire section was devoted to the unfolding situation in Venezuela, a topic that might get four inches on page 3 in the ABQ Journal. Perhaps folks here think what happens in other countries is relevant to themselves. How quaint.

Another thing I like, though it is a tad inconvenient today, is that many retail businesses close on weekends, particularly Sunday. Today we found it very difficult to find a place for lunch, and restaurants open late.

We spent the last two days walking through the city, appreciating the buildings, parks, statuary, cafes, bookstores, and the many tree lined streets.

There was a fountain in the old city that appears to be one of those places you see where couples put locks on the fence to symbolize their eternal love.

At least one couple was unclear on the concept.

We have limited our tours of churches to the Metropolitan Cathedral. It is an incredibly beautiful building that is impossible to capture in photographs. Here are a few attempts.

We had to bring out the long sleeves yesterday. It was overcast and very windy. The air temperature was really comfortable, but the wind coming off the Rio de la Plata was downright freezing. Today we had the same amount of wind, but the Sun was shining brightly while we made a long walk to the beach in an adjacent neighborhood.

Paula tried her best to be angelic but was really pretty crusty.

OK, I’ll be required to explain that last remark to you know who since it is not readily apparent in this photo. Paula is crusted with sand after rolling her wet body on the sand. This is also a good time to answer the riddle: thong bikinis. If you don’t know know the riddle, it is in a previous post. If you find it you will have the satisfaction of knowing you found it.

We also toured a couple of street markets this weekend. They were crowded. The markets had everything from fresh produce to electrical hardware. Yesterday we were in a market in the old city when we noticed a significant part of the crowd were Asian tourists who had no compunction to stop the crowd from moving while they took photographs of themselves in front of one of the stands. We noticed that there were two cruise ships docked at port, and I’m sure they belonged to one of them.

This is our last night in Uruguay. Tomorrow morning we catch the ferry back to Buenos Aires and then we take a night bus to Mendoza. The ferry takes two hours, and the bus will take thirteen to fourteen hours. We spent the money for a first class suite with “full cama” which means the seat back will lean back to horizontal, making it easier to sleep. We get the extra money back by not needing a hotel for the night. We’ll find out soon how much of that is wishful thinking.

Since it will be a long day of sitting we have decided to walk to the ferry terminal, which is about 2.5 miles from our apartment. We are giving ourselves a bit extra time for the walk, since we are not quite sure of how traffic will affect us.

I am impressed by the ability of drivers to miss pedestrians. When you cross a street it is wise to not change your pace since it is likely someone about to make a right turn has made a very precise estimate where you will be when he passes by six inches or so in front or behind you. We have seen more than a few brave souls walking confidently into the street, against the light, expecting drivers to adjust their trajectories.

We have opted to shorten our stay in Mendoza in favor of more time in Chile, and are arranging our trip to Santiago this evening. We met a couple in a cafe who were visiting from Santiago and they convinced us that the four days we were planning to be there was woefully inadequate. It is possible we will look them up while we are there.

The internet has made travel very convenient though at some cost, I fear. It is more predictable, of course, but also somewhat more homogenized. About thirty years ago I went to Berlin and Prague and had to figure it out on the go with only my flights arranged. For everything else I had to rely on my own abilities and the good faith of others. Now we can check out bus schedules and buy tickets through internet sites with instant translation without needing to negotiate language barriers. We get money from ATMs or use credit cards without having to shop for currency exchange rates. Don’t get me wrong. I really like how it is now but also miss the mystery and challenge that international travel used to present.

3 thoughts on “Our last night in Uruguay

  1. Jim February 3, 2019 / 10:15 pm

    re: Your pic of Paula on the beach – I always thought you were the crusty one…


  2. Alida February 5, 2019 / 7:54 pm

    It was great reading the info that Charlie posted, thanks for the whole scoop it was entertained. Have fun and be safe. Love to you two.💝


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