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Uruguay, January 2008

Palacio Brasil
face of Gaucho Museum and Palacio Brasil on 18 de julho

Beautiful five hour flight from Foz d'Iguacu to Montevideo. The engine sounded a little rough but we completed the flight without incident. Clearing into Montevideo was a pleasure, thanks to the smiling customs agents that made our entry so easy and went out of their way to give us names of places to visit while in Uruguay. We left the plane outside Gustavo's hangar and took the 40 minute bus into town for 13.50 pesos each. The ride in was fantastic thanks to all of the old colonial architecture, in neighborhoods on the way into town, but especially in the city center.

The first night we stayed in a place near the water, more expensive than we liked but good for a night's sleep. The next morning we went looking for a good hotel, and when we got back the BBC reported Bhutto's assasination. Crying shame for Pakistan.

Then we found this sunny little hotel in a great part of town and it makes a great base for exploring the city. I went for a run from the hotel - 4 blocks downhill to "the Ramblas", a wide paved path that follows the coast. Turned East and ran past oldsters waiting for sunset, families strolling, lots of affectionate couples, a few other joggers, various cyclists, etc. and of course many people sipping maté, an herbal infusion. There is seawall and rocks for the first 20 minutes of the run and then the first beach. Today Tom and Ana drove us around and we saw that beyond that first beach is... more beaches, lots of sail boats and a few yacht clubs, public fishing areas.

You will love Uruguay if you are a fan of old cars. Vehicles from various decades are still operational and being used for transport, freight and even mobile cafes. Here is the oldest and possibly the finest example I have seen here.

Model A
An old Ford, maybe a Model A?

Our buddy Leo and his buddy Walter, and a couple we met at the Sunday market.
Walter's house
with Leo and friends at Walter's house

The first impression is that of a European city. The scale and beauty of the buildings, sculptures, theaters, museums; small stores on every block selling meat, pastries, fruits. The fruits and veggies are bursting with flavor, and actually look like naturally grown produce. I thought perhaps Monsanto had not reached Uruguay yet but a local guy assures me that they are here and messing around with genetically modified corn. I guess we will enjoy the unmodified fruits and greens while we can. Peaches, oranges and grapefruit are in season right now along with a kind of bok choy, long snap peas and lots of other stuff.

Ana and Tom enjoying the sunset
Tom and Ana recently moved to Montevideo, where Ana is from. They blew through Belém while we were there, and then continued through Brazil on to Uruguay.