Montevideo from Airport

Edy just returned from a visit back to the US.  Here’s how Uruguay looks!  The best way to gEKet anywhere in Montevideo from Carrasco International Airport  and how to get pesos. (Mary and I will blog about how to get to other cities directly from the airport later.)

It’s so wonderful to be back… here I am, back in the city of Montevideo, in the small and peaceful and shimmering country of Uruguay.  It is a glowing wonderful day, a cool breeze and a very warm sun, just perfect.  Like the best weather of San Francisco.

It was hard while I was back visiting the USA to remember how wonderful it is here, but now that I’m here the feeling of well-being and relief is so intense.  There is an aura of peace, a feeling, an energy imprint of the place and people that I have, after 8 months living here, become used to. It feels very welcoming and pleasant to be back in the SUN, and the lack of pressure and the lack of that over-the-top American TV thing is very evident.  Here it feels like a simpler time and place where there is a rhythm to life and people are glad to see each other, where small things are still noticed and important.

The shuttle driver literally almost hugged me when I handed him a $5 bill, an older man with glasses and a wrinkled brow wanting to make sure everything went right and he got us where we were going.  A new Uruguayan friend, an accountant whose agency has been open and in the family more than 100 years, called me to welcome me back and say hello this morning.  Our friends who live in an old quarter, Barrio Sur, got us tickets to a Murga and Political Comedy event at the tablado of the Museo del Carnaval.

Once back home, I hung out my laundry on the line to dry in the sun.  pizzaThe food TASTES MUCH BETTER here.  And on and on, the families sitting together in the park, people walking home from the supermarket pulling grocery carts, the horse drawn carts of the men who search the trash for recycling items, the quite casual yet somehow sleek clothing, very small things that compose a life.

How to get from the airport to anywhere in Montevideo, cheapest and easiest:   The transportation from the airport is totally solved… my

Carrasco International Airport, an award winning building that could be mistaken for a spaceship hanger.
Carrasco International Airport is a 20 minute ride from the World Trade Center in Pocitos.

new favorite solution is, take the SHUTTLE, it’s only $14 per person and delivers you right to your destination.  The downside is you share it with a couple other parties, but if you’re lucky you strike up a conversation and get to know people and learn something .  (This is available also at early hours — like when my friend was arriving at 4 a.m. when city buses don’t even run). There is a clearly marked booth for TAXI/shuttle once you emerge from the customs area into the reception hall.  A bus into town or long distance buses to other parts of Uruguay also stop in front of the airport.  You can also take a private taxi for around US$40 or a little more than 1,000 pesos, also paid for by purchasing a coupon at the booth in the airport.  And note that if you have your dog, you must rent a shuttle all for your own party and your luggage and your dog, which is as of now US$64.  Lastly, you could rent a car.  Note in Uruguay they say they require a big deposit (like $1,000) when renting a car, but when we rented a car for a weekend trip I got around that by buying the complete insurance rather than the limited, which insurance I guess cost about US$35 extra per day, about twice the limited.

Using your credit cards in Uruguay:   For a taxi or the shuttle you buy a coupon and they will take a credit card, so you don’t need cash.  About changing money at the airport, you might do a little but the rates are better in the city.  All big supermarkets and hotels and many boutiques etc. take VISA. You need some cash for the bus, a small grocery or buying stuff in the feria, street markets, where it’s cheaper but of course they don’t take VISA, and some restaurants don’t.  Our credit cards charge us a little bit each foreign transaction, like .14 or so depending on how much we spent.  You might want to check yours, each one is a bit different in their policy.

Using an ATM in Uruguay:   There are also ATMs where you can use your debit VISA card from your bank to withdraw pesos directly, a slight charge with each withdrawal so I usually  take out about

A RED BROU currency changing shop.
At the RedBROUs everywhere in the city, you can use an ATM or change currency.

6000 pesos per time, which seems to be our limit for 1 withdrawal, this might also vary bank to bank.  and the maximum limit for us per day to withdraw seems to be 18,000 pesos per day, that is probably according to your own bank withdrawal limits.  You can also go to a bank and do a cash withdrawal on your credit card, but there is a charge for that, I understand, on the credit card company’s bill.  One ATM I know of is in the BROU banks, which is just like a regular bank ATM but you can use any VISA debit card in it.  Most others, I understand, take debit VISAs, but it varies a little.  If you have any trouble, please share your story so we can all learn.

Protests for Missing 43

In Montevideo, members of the group “Uruguay por Ayotzinapa” (Uruguay in Support of the Missing 43) work to raise awareness of the evil that has taken place and is still in process by corrupt Mexican authorities who condoned the murder of the 43 Mexican Student Teachers.

Five months after the slaughter of Iguala, parents and bluegroupfellow students are still waiting for certain knowledge of the fate of the 43 missing native student teachers.  Mexico and the world are waiting too. This being the ninth event held by the Uruguay Ayotzinapa  group, which convened kidsFebruary 26, 2015, at the Plaza Libertad to focus awareness and stand in solidarity with the victims and their families against State Terrorism in Mexico. Because the “historical truth” is written by the people, it is not decreed by government resolution.



Photos courtesy of Uruguay Ayotzinapa.

Rebel Arte posts photos and information of the latest gathering.




Casa Inspiración

There is a house full of sun, serenity and inspiration in Atlantida.  It is SydWall2here our new friends and old Uruguay hands (well, 6 years old) Syd and Gundy from Canada have settled and enjoy Uruguay life.  The home shows IMG_2186love and a high sense of design in every detail.  Syd tells the story of how they had not intended to settle in Uruguay, they were both innkeepers in Canada.  However, in Uruguay to have Gundy’s hip replacement operation, they found and fell in love with Casa Inspiration, where we have SydWall1visited with delight.  They also have a bed and breakfast offering, a room which is available for short stays.  Syd sells his fantastic walking sticks and painted garden vessels.  Casa Inspiración is a garden retreat, and Syd and Gundy are a font of information on Atlantida and on Uruguay!  I have four short interview videos Syd and I made to try out the video possibilities, here is one to enjoy, thanks Syd!!

Syd Talks about Moving to Uruguay from Edy Kizaki on Vimeo.

And for “further reading” I love this story about Syd and Gundy’s relocation he wrote for Paradise Uruguay Blog.


Wind Energy in Uruguay

RodrigoMreport by Rodrigo Morosoli, English and Spanish teacher

What started as a project in 2007, a new vision of a country where renewable sources of energy are encouraged, will become a reality next year.  With the joint efforts of the government, state-owned companies and private multinational organizations Uruguay may reach an unprecedented level of wind energy production in 2016. It has taken many years to organize, plan, project and actually build the wind energy facilities all over the county (about 20 locations totaling an investment of two thousand million dollars but may reach seven thousand million dollars in the next few years).

We all know that in terms of energy production one of the biggest challenges in the near future is finding a way to escape the constraints of non-renewable sources of energy. The dependency on those types of energy has a high impact on both the environment and the economy. With this change of “energetic matrix” it is called, Uruguay will be better positioned in the world, for it means less dependence on the international price of oil and increases the government’s level of ability to care for the environment.

Wind energy will satisfy between 30% and 40% of the country’s energy needs–the highest rate in the world–only followed by Germany, where wind power satisfies about 20% of the total energetic demand.  Along with solar energy production, which has been highly promoted by the government, wind energy production is becoming one of the most ambitious projects Uruguay has ever envisioned and it’s part of the legacy that José Mujica’s government, which ends next March 1st, is leaving for the new generation.

note by Edy:  Rodrigo is involved in many things both cultural and regarding the society, with a background in journalism and film.  We hope to interview him for a future post in Who is Uruguay.  Rodrigo, many thanks for this timely article.


Festival of the Sea

impressions of a sea festival, by Steve AnthonySteveAnthony
goddessLemanja–the goddess of water, the sea, a festival celebrated every year in Uruguay, of African origin.   A man asked the goddess for love and drowned while reaching to caress her.  You can ask her for anything except love. People dress in white, some dance into a trance, people send out boats laden with offerings of fruits, sweets, candles, and small statues. The beach is full of small grottos carved out in the sand,  with blue offeringsatpocitoscandles burning, blue flowers and white flowers, the color theme repeated in the styrofoam boats and pictures  of Lemanja.
People are standing in lines to be blessed and or purified with branchs dipped in the water, blessing and purifying themselves (but leaving the remains of the ceremonies to clutter up the river). Religion is interesting.  Many many people like me just watching, looking, taking pictures, many people, maybe five thousand, just observing perhaps 2000 in the river purifying and backing out as is the custom.
The little boats, many with burning candles, filling the river as the sun sets.  Picturesque and strange, blue, white, the dying burning sun on the river creating a sound of wind chimes inside me, all in all a transporting from our day to day existence  to a place of mystery.