Moving to Uruguay

MariaFaceIva Marie Botchie and her husband Michael recently moved to Uruguay from the Pacific Northwest (USA).  They have quickly settled in and are starting to make it home.

In August of 2013, my husband Michael and I decided to close our business, sell off everything we own, and move out of the US. We made that decision one evening sitting on our front porch during RockingChairswhat we refer to as “our rocking chair moment”. A couple of weeks later, after some on-line research, we decided on Uruguay as our new home. We held garage sales every weekend, and by March of 2014, we had sold everything we wanted to sell, loaded the rest in our container, and moved out of our home.

Michael and Marie in Spain
Michael and Marie in Spain

Beginning on April 23rd, my ten year anniversary of being cancer free, we took a detour through Spain before making the move here. We wanted to walk the Camino Santiago after seeing the movie “The Way”, and realized there may not be another chance in our life where we would have the “time” to make such an ambitious journey, so we jumped on the opportunity to make it happen. It was an incredible seven weeks that I think helped us considerably in our transition here in UY, and we are grateful to have had the chance to explore ourselves on such a meaningful level before making our life changing move here in July.

Sunset
what we see from our house
Gonzalo Michael Ida
Gonzalo shows us a health food store the first week.
Eduardo and Michael
Michael and Eduardo

After our Camino, we went back to the US for a few weeks, and that’s when things fell into place quickly. We found an adorable cottage in La Barra on Craigslist, if you can image, and the young man that advertised it, Eduardo Correa, recommended the services of Gonzalo Gomez from Punta Consulting for our immigration needs. Between these two amazing souls everything just worked out for us smoothly. Eduardo became a treasured friend that assists us in purchases, utilities, customs, and more. Gonzalo made sure we were prepared with everything we needed before we left the US, and within a week after we arrived in La Barra we had our UY ID, and Temporary Residency. Since then we have also obtained our Driver’s Licenses, gun permits, and started a business, which allowed me to obtain health care that I was not eligible for due to a pre-existing conditions. (Cancer is a pre-existing condition in UY, even if you have been cancer free for 10 years.)

Gonzalo recommend Mary Ann Thompson from Language Solutions to assist us in learning Spanish. Mary Ann is now a friend that I can

Mary Ann with her gift to us, our lovely Bella.
Mary Ann with her gift to us, our lovely Bella.

confide in. Not only does she help us to better understand the language, and the customs, she promotes every aspect of our success here.

We cannot say enough good things about the people from Uruguay!

MichaelContainerWith the arrival of our container in February, (a long story in itself), and thanks to our new friends Karen & Neal from the US, who helped us find our new home, we moved into a larger cottage that accommodates our things. It is amazing how good it feels to sleep in your own bed after almost a year! It was better than Christmas to unpack the comforts of home, and while so many things were a joy to have back in our lives, as we unpacked, we house2often found ourselves asking “why in the world did we bring this?” It’s hard to know what you’ll need or want until you get here, but some of the advice we had gotten naponline really paid off. For example; it came highly recommended to us by other ex-pats, who have lived here for several years, to bring our bed, bedding, and kitchenware. That proved to be great advice. We even brought our own hammock.

Today, as we settle into our new home, establishing a means to

Asado - barbecue at a neighbor's, Uruguay style
Asado – barbecue at a neighbor’s, Uruguay style

sustain it is of our highest priority. Since we are far to young to retire, we have to create a new way to provide for ourselves. Our way of thinking is put all of our talents out there, and trust that one, or several of them will provide us with  the income we need to live here. It’s a different market here in Uruguay, and we have been told it can prove challenging.

Michael’s new business is called Botchie Multiple Services. We were General Contractors back in the States performing building maintenance for all the FedEx and FedEx Ground Facilities in the State of Oregon. Because we valued our customers, and cared about
the quality of service we provided, we maintained an A+ Rating on the BBB for over 14 years.

Michael is an electrician, welder/fabricator, certified HVAC technician, carpenter, plumber, and more. He spent several years in school, and obviously many years on the job to obtain such a Michaelfixes
diverse list of skills. After listening to many ex-pat horror stories regarding the “unexpected” when they purchased homes here, Michael has added Home Inspections to his list of services.

If you are buying property using a septic system, there are a lot of options Michael can help you consider as well.

messagebottle
Message In a Bottle gifts

I am a photographer, writer, and business administrator by trade. I provide custom bottle creations including vases, chandlers and gifts, and custom buttons.  As a photographer I can offer photo CD’s, photo restoration, portraits, events, DVD slide shows, photographic art, limited printing, and more. If there is interest in scrap booking or arts & crafts I have that covered as well, including the supplies.  Over the next few months I’ll offer several afternoon workshops on making dream collages so let me know if you’d like to be on my mailing list. 

Being here in Uruguay for us is about cheersconnection. People from all over the world are coming here and greeting each other with an honesty, and openness that we haven’t seen in a very long time. We credit much of our accomplishments and success to the amazing people here who provide fair services, or just want to help out of kindness. Making new friends is a huge highlight to our new life!MarieBella

When people ask us why we moved to Uruguay? Our favorite reply is “we wanted a longer shelf life, and to move in a different direction.”

Peace to everyone, I hope your journeys take you to amazing places.

feria
Shopping at the local Farmer’s Market (once a week) called “Ferria.”

 

ourhouse
Our new home, with thatched roof.

 

 

 

Korean Restaurant, Montevideo

EdyKHatEdy Kizaki lives and works in Montevideo and is busy making Uruguay her beloved home after moving from the US last April with her family.

frontIn Montevideo there are many excellent restaurants and a wonderful variety of good food, especially offering asado and grilled meats or Italian food.  Although they exist, Asian restaurants are harder to find.  One of the best so far is the  Restaurante Coreano, Myeong Ga, which is just off Plaza Independencia.  The food is great,

Owners Moon Jeong and Cho greet diners.
Owners Moon Jeong and Cho greet diners.

as good as any I had in Korea during my three trips, or the excellent Korean food I became used to in Seattle.

streetLocated at Ciudadela 1367 a block north of Plaza Independencia, the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner and until 11 p.m. (from 1 p.m. on Sunday by the way).

Lovers of spicy Korean food will not be disappointed, but you can also request a mildly spiced dish, and there are dumplings and other chinese style choices as well as the traditional barbecue meat, hotpots, and rice bowls.  The small dishes and rice that round out the meal are delicately flavored and excellent.

Kim Chee Hot Pot is wonderful
Kim Chee Hot Pot is wonderful

smalldishes1

table

menu3

menu1

menu4

Living In Montevideo; 3 Neighborhoods

EdyKHatSo as to become more familiar with possible places to live, Edy Kizaki and her family have stayed in PocitosBuceo and Punta Gorda.  Edy also teaches in the Old City, Pocitos, and Carrasco and so has become familiar with those neighborhoods too. Others frequented by expats are Punta Carretas (more upscale) and Centro.

Living in Montevideo – Exploring 3 Neighborhoods by Edy Kizaki

One of my biggest pleasures this first year living here in Montevideo has been riding the bus, because I don’t have to worry about driving and while sitting next to the window I’m always watching as the streets and shops pass by.  The buses are slow and local so I can let the sights flow past and each little shop is unique but also there are types of shops like the butcher shop (carnicería), flower shop (tienda de flores), fruit and vegetable shop (tienda de fruta y verdura), furniture stores (muebles), restaurants (restaurantes), coffee houses (cafes), bakery (panadería), etc.

Because condominium buildings, single-family homes and commercial shops are all mixed together along the streets  every neighborhood is walkable and has its own character.  Living directly along a main street will be noisy due to traffic, but the plentiful trees seem to cushion the streets and provide a peaceful buffer, to a certain extent.  Note that across from a park will occasionally be quite noisy since events tend to go late into the night. I prefer a side street when choosing a living place, but it may not be the first consideration.

The first three months that I lived in Montevideo (I arrived here before my family followed me down, because I got a job and I had a time deadline to be here by the middle of April) what I decided to do since I was on my own with our family dog was to live in three different short-term AirBnB rentals which I did.  (Actually regarding AirBnB I had some negative as well as positive experiences with it, which will have to be another blog.  There seems to be a tendency for the landlord to make claims after you move out, such as something is missing when it isn’t. So use caution.  Your main tool is the reviews, which you can only do for a few days after the end of your stay, so you have to be on top of it.)

SilvanaApt
An AirBnB rental in Buceo which was well appointed but the landlady behaved less than professionally, including not being there as agreed to let me in when I arrived from the airport, and claiming I’d taken a “very expensive” pillowcase which I had to argue about, after which it was miraculously found.

However living in the three different neighborhoods I believe was a wise move. It got me familiar with neighborhood styles in the city, as well as three unique places to live, so that I got a better sense of the type of environments available here.  The neighborhood (barrio) I lived in first is called Buceo and it’s just to the east of Montevideo  Shopping which is at the east end of Pocitos neighborhood.  Buceo is the next neighborhood over, still on the Rambla and it’s very centrally located and a great neighborhood.  It has a small feria which is a street market. I’ve forgotten the day now but I think it was on  Saturday mornings and it’s just next to the wall of the British Cemetary off Rivera.  There is also the Night Market.

SylviaApt
A private home in Punta Gorda that rents bedrooms on AirBnB, extremely wonderful hostess who bends over backwards in every aspect to help and support her guests.

Next, I rented a room in the house of a lady who is Uruguayan. She puts rooms on AirBnB.  She’s a psychologist here in Montevideo, a lovely lady with fairly limited English but still good. This was more a regular family house away from the center of the town, in Punta Gorda.  She had a pool in the backyard, but because it was winter I didn’t utilize that. It had a green little backyard which the dog appreciated. She also has a huge orange tom cat called Willy Wonka.  Punta Gorda was the name of the neighborhood and it’s farther out along Rivera toward Carrasco, so you’ll be taking a bus about 20 minutes more to get downtown. It does still have a small shopping area with a wine shop, a pharmacy,  a supermarket, a butcher, a pasta shop,  and a bakery, and it has its own feria once a week. However, it’s also quite near Portones shopping mall on Avineda Italia in Carrasco which is very very large and has almost anything you can imagine.

bebaapt
AirBnB rental in a very nice building in Pocitos on Av. Brasil, but even though the rental was for 2 months the hostess left all her clothes and items in the apartment and locked the closets so there was no closet space, all the drawers were full and it was not cleaned properly! We still would do it again as we loved the area and cleaned up things ourselves.

Third, I lived on Avenida Brasil, down a couple blocks from the Rambla and that was a wonderful place to live.   Steve and Daniel arrived in Montevideo from the states just after I moved there.  We were lucky enough to have a building with a kind of a small gym, pool and spa (which was not mentioned in the blurb about the place) and it had 24 hour concierge so we got familiar with how doormen operate here, which was useful. That neighborhood has excellent shopping, a great many high quality shops and services.  Tienda Inglesa  is there, a small one, and (it means English shop but basically it’s a supermarket which has a lot of imported foods as well as all the staples. There’s a big one in Montevideo Shopping, and there are large ones elsewhere, one is in Carassco at Portones Shopping) the small one which is over in Avanida Brasil is a good one for daily needs, although without the huge inventory of the larger ones.  Some of my Uruguayan friends say that they only trust the fish from Tienda Inglesa or the feria but not most supermarkets.

There’s also one of the nicest cake shops I’ve experienced on Avanida Brasil, and there really are great cake shops here in Montevideo. There are two fantastic butchers, there are several antique shops, there’s a small auction house, there’s a Pilates studio, banks, bike shops, toy shops, stationary shops, casual restaurants and sports bars, and many many many many many other businesses which make it a fantastic neighborhood to live in, and very very walkable.

After those three temporary rentals we did arrange to get a long-term rental apartment.   That in and of itself is a subject that I should address because there are certain things you have to know before you attempt to do so, but that will be in a future blog.

In terms of discussing neighborhoods I’ll just say that the fourth OurPlacelocation was in Pocitos again, but this time near the intersection of Rivera and Julio Cesar and that it is a one year rental with two bedrooms and two baths on the fifth floor of a new building. It has a relatively large terrace and quite small rooms but still decent, and we’ve been enjoying the location very much.   It’s useful to be near so much (being right off Rivera we have access to lots of buses which go direct to all the places we want to go, whereas Avenida Brasil was off the main route so you have to transfer) Now we go shopping very close to home, one to two blocks in either direction leads us to butcher shops, outside vegetable stands, clothing shops, stationary shops, etc. etc., and then Tienda Inglisa is only about four blocks away in Montevideo shopping.

School Note:  if you’re planning on sending kids to school, a lot of the major bilingual schools and the British Schools, the Uruguay American School,  The New Zealand School, Woodlands School, The Christian Brothers, and the Waldorf School are all in Carrasco, so many families locate there.  The German School and the Lycee Francais, Jean Pieget School, are around town.  We’ll be trying to

Colegio Paulo Friere
Colegio Paulo Friere

interview some experts on the school situation here soon.  My own son goes to Colegio Paulo Freire with a kindergarten, primary and secondary schools all nearly in the same place near Parque Batlle.

If you are planning to get residency for your children, they are required to be in school and homeschooling them is not accepted for this requirement.  Public schools seem to be half day, until noon.  More on this later.

(Note: please let me know if you have other school recommendations or experience, we can add it for the resource value.)

 

Carnaval In Uruguay

SteveAnthonyby Steve Anthony, resident and student of all things Montevideo, who arrived in June of 2014 and plans to stay quite a while.  He writes of the monuments everywhere in Montevideo

 

“Murga doesn’t represent the masses, they are the masses.” Yamando Cardazo, Director Agarrente, Catalina

 

I want to learn Spanish.   I’m living in a Spanish-speaking country, obviously.  But at this time, the time of Carnaval, I am inspired to learn Spanish so that next year when I attend Carnaval, I will understand the finer points of language use employed by the worker artists of Montevideo.

Not every participant is from Montevideo proper, but the majority are.  There are several ways a performance artist might participate.  There are murgas, parodistas, revistas, comparsas, who compete for prize money.  I have much to learn and the process is quite enjoyable, a labor of love.

Probably like a lot of people, when I heard about Carnaval, I thought “Party” “Revelry”, some noisy drunks and nearly naked women.

Well, I now see carnaval as an alternate Universe. Carnaval is 2 parts performance, 6 parts training and working as a group, 2 parts family support and love (editor’s note: that’s 10 parts)

Love could be a jumping off point so we’ll touch on that.  I want to focus on my favorite, the murgas.  To be a murga, you need a strong and trained voice, a mime or dancer’s sense of movement, a sense of comedy, a high level of presentation.  Acting most murgas are men, murga13 singers, 1 director and a symbol – a snare drum and a large base drum in the Candombe style.  The director often has a guitar that is used sparingly.  A lot of the presentations are acapella singing. They provide social communication in the songs.  A typical presentation may poke fun at the government, the legalization of mariuana, dogs and their owners, or the prisoners in Guantanamo.

They sing harmonies that pierce the night air as one powerful voice fills the space in us.

I Mentioned love as being an important element in all this the actors singers  and dancers must love it they spend a lot of their spare time planning guiding building costumes and sets training voice and body

During 8 to 10 months of preparation for roughly one month of performance love is the main element ultimately the exchange between audience and performers reach a crescendo toward the end of the time limit which is imposed as part of the competition

As the singers are preparing to leave the crowd is on its feet performers and audiences are overcome with what I can only describe as love inspiration in appreciation for each other and appreciation for each other the audience is their loved ones family and friends the Mergus exit still singing and dancing into the crowd kisses hugs tears of joy and relief that come from just doing it make it make up smudged from face to face until at last the group handles in tight circles singing a last celebratory song of the elaborate heard dresses as the elaborate head dresses I thrown into the air if you can resist all this and not be swept up in pure joy of life you need a pulse check.

Seven Months in La Barra

DenaePotterDenae Potter is a warm and charming western woman in her 30s who came to Uruguay from Hawaii.  Here she reflects on why she came and impressions during her first seven months living in La Barra, a small gracious town just west of Punta del Este, with her partner David.

ocean
One of Denae’s favorite beaches in La Barra.

I have spent the past 10 years working in supplement stores and learning about natural remedies and have also done personal training for about the same amount of time.  I worked in a store in Maui called “The Dragon’s Den” where items such as nutritional products, supplements, herbs, crystals, and pendants were sold.  As for what I enjoy, I was raised to be in the outdoors and nature.  My family went camping, hiking, fishing and bike riding.  I was the second child of five and we were always active and doing something.  I was raised with no TV and no computer.  We read, did art projects, and went outside.  Here in Uruguay now, as in Hawaii before we left, I have lots of chances to indulge my passion for being active in the outdoors.

beach
Uruguay sea sand and sky.

My professional desire and pursuit of ultimate health made me think of leaving the States and in Maui. Things had gone outside of my control. There was “vog”, volcanic material in the air, toxic heavy metals were present, the things Fukushima brings, and sugar cane burning.  My interest in a long and healthy life means not living in someone else’s toxic waste. Other reasons include the political situation and how the U.S. government is being handled along with the loss of rights in the U.S.  Fukushima was so close to us in the Hawaiian Islands it was motivation to go quickly.  I wanted the freedom to see other parts of the world that are beautiful and safe.  I had not visited Uruguay but my partner David and I made the decision to come here.  Leaving was a challenge.  What to say and how to say goodbye when leaving friends and family and our jobs.  What to pack. Then, after arriving, knowing people to create a mutual community with to help and be helped was a challenge in the first month or two.  Uncertainty was an issue, and we were couch surfing and WOLFing (working as volunteers on an organic farm.)  Although we hadn’t been here before, I knew quite a lot once I looked on You Tube and went online and read about policies and the President.  I learned Uruguay is safe, it’s easy to get a Cedula (residency card) and to obtain residency.

Sunset
Exquisite sunset in Uruguay.

After having lived here 7 months, I can report that I love the blue skies, the water, and the air smells fresh.  It is safe comfortable walking around.  I haven’t felt unsafe and I like the people I meet. I appreciate the culture, friendliness, its community‐oriented, and more open.  I definitely love how tranquillo (tranquil) it is, and how low key it is.  I love the beef, and all the water that’s here in rivers, lakes, and in the campo (country) it is beautiful.  I like it that there are a lot of like‐minded people with the same interests as me, and in the states that’s not true.  One example is natural living and being aware of what is happening in the US.  Here I find others who also do their research and are up on current affairs and want to take action and change their lives.  I love being close to the beach and how it is quiet here in La Barra where a lot of people live year round.  I have made friends in the area and I like the people I’ve met here. It is close to stores and I like to shop here.  It is close to Punta del Este but not in the town itself.

There are a few things I would change.  The Wi‐Fi hassles; not being able to connect or going out of commission after I get online.  I don’t like it that the business hours are willy‐nilly and open one day but closed the next and they don’t seem to keep a schedule and some people are flaky about  being on time, and commitments don’t work.

couple
Denae and David enjoy the beaches and outdoor lifestyle in Uruguay.

Bottom line, I would not want it to change.  People are wonderful;  my advice is to come with money or you’re in for a rough winter.  Another thing is my Spanish ability, my ability is very low and I need to hook up with an instructor. Good ways I’ve used to learn include listening to music, and watching cooking shows. My ability to hear is getting pretty good because I hear it often.  When I first arrived I couldn’t hear individual words and now I can.  All in all, my happiness and well being has improved drastically and I was happy and in a good state of well being before I came.  Here I’m even happier and in a better state of well-being.  A lot of this has to do with air quality and environmental issues that affect how I feel.  I think my opportunities will be better than in the States because entrepreneurs are able to open up new things and there’s an open slate for it.  Here it is not as consumer-driven.  Living a simple life is more common than not.  There’s an open slate for well-being  in a place that doesn’t put so much emphasis on consumerism and a simple life style is acceptable.  If I had to do the move over, I would have brought more supplements and more things natural and organic.  I would have come prepared for winter and it was colder than I expected.  I brought a nice water filter.  In my experience what to bring includes organic seeds for a garden, organic or natural hygiene products.

Something I’ve noticed about the Uruguayan mindset is that generally  people work really hard.  Sometimes it feels like the people in this part of  Uruguay work hard in the summertime and not hard during the rest of the year. Also, in my dealings here I have learned not to have expectations that won’t be met. If I had to give some advice to people planning to come here, I’d say go with the flow. If you want to take the adventure, Uruguay has its own time and we can’t manipulate it.  Don’t get too hung up on the stereotype of South America, Uruguay is much different. It’s interesting what different people have as visions of Uruguay…many people have illusions about the country before they come, and I have learned to see it clearly at this point.

Why We Chose Uruguay

DianaDiana B lives in La Paloma in a house near the Beach with her husband and three sons.  Find her facebook page Uruguay-Beaches.com for more great pics and information.  Here she responds to a basic question in many of our minds as we consider moving to South America, “Why did you decide on Uruguay?”

Five Years Later – Then and Now

We moved to Uruguay in 2010. Given the economic climate in the US back in 2008, my husband wanted to move to a more Beach2WEBeconomically stable country, so he started researching. A year later, we eventually chose Uruguay. Why?

Uruguay

  • is pet-friendly. (Our sons refused to leave our beagles behind.)
  • has had steady economic growth since its crisis in 2002.
  • is disaster-free, no hurricanes, tornadoes, tidal waves, or earthquakes.
  • has a temperate climate. (my personal favorite)
  • requires its beef to be grass-fed.
  • properties were more economical for ocean-side living than in the States.
  • offers free and reasonable college tuition.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen my husband and I and our three sons arrived five years ago, we were excited and hopeful about starting a new life here. I always have dreamed about retiring next to the ocean.

In fact, the first painting I bought when I married 36 years ago was an ocean landscape. When we decided to settle in La Paloma, Rocha, Uruguay, I found a beach called Playa Anaconda that bears a striking resemblance to my painting. It seems that I have been manifesting that dream forever. I never thought about making it come true.

Overall, the country seems and is much healthier than the States. People ride their bikes here. Uruguayans don’t seem overly obsessed with eating, other than meat, and they seem to live a more natural, down-to-earth lifestyle.

Unexpected Benefits:
There were unexpected benefits, things we found here that we had not expected including:

A Healthier Lifestyle
We did not live very healthy lives in the States. It was too convenient KayakingWEBto drive through and pick up dinner or eat out. Although it is cheaper to eat out in Uruguay, a retired income doesn’t really allow for those habits, and honestly, there isn’t the variety of foods here as there is in the US.  As a result, less than a year later, the boys had all lost more than 150 pounds among the three of them. They are so much happier now. They exercise more doing simple chores like riding their bikes to the store or spending some time on the beach.

Life at the Beach
La Paloma is a summer beach resort, so the town is always clean and landscaped with fresh flowers year-round.  It has a steady influx of balconadoWEBtourists from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and numerous European countries, which makes for interesting multicultural encounters.  This summer my sons met three Chilean pre-med students, and shared a beer with a Russian student here on holiday among others. I’m all about expanding knowledge and life experience.

Temperate Climate
I’ve always been an outdoor girl. I loved gardening, sports, and being around animals. In Texas where we lived, the most pleasant season was fall and one week in spring. I must have planted at least 30 strawberry plants throughout the years, but either a late snow or a windstorm always killed them.  Here in Uruguay there are two growing seasons, so when I planted just five strawberry plants by the end of the first seasons I had 20 daughter plants. Yeah! I was a success. A hot summer on the coast is five days in a row of low 90s temps. Overall, I figure we have at least eight months of outdoor living, and that suits be  just fine.

Unforeseen problems
Yes, it’s been a pleasant surprise in many aspects, but I want to give you a balanced picture and share about the problems that we’ve faced as well.

Housing
Honestly, I thought we would be living in our own home by now, but I was hesitant to buy when we first got here. The houses we looked at were too small, had only one bath, and electrical wires rigged everywhere. The nicer ones were out of our price range. I’ve seen The Money Pit once too often to risk the plunge. (It’s a funny movie until it becomes your life.)  Since then property prices have shot up with Uruguayans taking full advantage of the Argentinian economic crisis, so buying a home isn’t a smart move right now. It will be better when the bubble bursts though, so we’re waiting.

Education
When we applied for residency, the boys were school age and required to attend Uruguayan school. That didn’t work out too well. They didn’t speak Spanish, two of them were shy, and one of them Beach3WEBhad had SPED (special needs) services in the States. There are no such services here.    Fortunately, here in Uruguay, students are not required to attend 12 years if they wish to attend a trade school or simply drop out.  Unfortunately, our residency has stalled and their transcripts have to be apostiled, translated by a certified translator here, and evaluated  by the Uruguayan school authorities before they can be properly enrolled in a trade school or even receive credit for the year they spent in school. In the meantime, they are working on their high school diplomas from the States.

Mold and Winter Heating
We were “mold stupid” when we came here. It took us five winters before we finally figured out how to keep warm during the winter in Uruguay. Although it doesn’t freeze here, the humidity makes for some chilled-to-the-bone winters.  That’s because the houses are mostly concrete and poorly insulated. Our present home has a fireplace, but my husband is asthmatic, so we don’t use it. Last year, we purchased three dehumidifiers and three propane heaters called estufas de gas. We used plastic over the drafty windows and finally, we were comfortable and for the first time none of us had winter colds.

Five years later
I believe we are all happier and better off than we were five years ago. I’d like to say that our lives in Uruguay are hunky-dory, but we still struggle with some things. I do know, however, that not all expats have the same experiences.  Today two of my sons speak fluent Spanish. We rent a two-bedroom house less than two blocks from the beach. We have nice neighbors and the people are very nice and accepting of us. La Paloma is a beautiful little town with its clean air, a constant ocean breeze, and pristine beaches where flowers bloom year-round.  We’re glad we moved.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA