All posts by edy

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.

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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.

murga

posters

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.

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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.

Sumo Restaurant in Maldonado

Great food and historic attraction at Sumo Restaurant in Maldonado by Mary Massey of La Barra

For me there is no way to top good food and historical significance to make a restaurant pleasurable.  Sumo, at the corner the town plaza on Sarandi and Florida in Maldonado not only serves excellent meals, it offers a taste of history.

A former owner honored the Argentine 80’s rock group Sumo with the name of his restaurant.  Sumo was short-lived and mostly underground but was highly influential in shaping contemporary Argentine rock by merging post-punk with Raeggae.

Sumo has both indoor and outdoor seating and the service is great at any table.  The shaded outdoor seating creates a good atmosphere for people-watching on the pedestrian-only Sarandi.
Don’t miss the most exciting feature of the physical lay-out; a side room dedicated to Charles Darwin who is said to have stayed in that spot during his 10-week stay in Maldonado in 1832.  The walls of this room contain a museum-quality display of illustrations, charts, notes, quotes, maps, as a tribute to Darwin and his study of evolution.  His A Naturalist’s Voyage Round the World …Journal of Researches into the Natural History and Geology of the Countries Visited During the Voyage Around the World of H.M.S. Beagle is found online. (Details of Darwin’s experiences in Maldonado and Uruguay are in Chapter 3.)

Good things come from the cocina (kitchen) and the parilla sumo1(wood-fire grill) at Sumo.  I recommend the licuados and the cappuccino as the top two non-alcoholic beverages.  Each time we were at Sumo the staff went overboard to make sure each of us got what we wanted.  Meals come with a basket of freshly-baked miniature yeast rolls and butter.  The Uruguayan standard list of grilled beef cuts is available including picaña and entircott. There are two picada options, each is a mixed grill designed to be shared by two people.  Three people might be even better because there is plenty.  If you don’t care for organ meats, or blood sausage, there is still a great deal of meat. Be sure to specify “muy jugoso” if you like your meat cooked less than medium and seca (dry) if you want it more done.

The salads are great for sharing, and the chicken Caesar is excellent.  It comes on a long rectangular plate and can be a great accompaniment for two or three people.  Pizzas and pastas are well-prepared with all of the toppings and sauces recommended except champiñones (canned mushrooms).  The pizza is typical for the area and one advantage at Sumo is that a smaller sized pizza can be ordered.

sumo2There is always room for dessert when you order the isla flotada, (floating island), a mile-high fluffy meringue and raisin dessert topped with a sweet sauce made from egg yolks and just a touch of wine.  It can be shared with coffee for at the end of a meal.
So if you are strolling around in the center of Maldonado, check out Sumo on the corner of the city plaza.  You get good food and history in a convenient location.

Monuments to Eternity

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

It’s a flat land, or perhaps a land of rolling hills, not mountains like where I’ve come from in Washington State. I thought initially Montevideo was called that somehow because of ConfuciusParqueRodoall the monuments, but no it has something to do with seeing a mountain or hill or in some circles, Cosmopolitan City could be a Spanish translation. Well monuments are here–monuments to Gahndi, Khalil Gibran, Cervantes, Churchill, to the Hollocost victims, to a polish woman who was a labor organizer, to David the  slayer of Goliath (a personaGhandil favorite) prominently in front of City Hall, Confucius (in Parque Rodo), to the filmmakers who resisted the dictatorship, to Socrates, to William Tell, to Lemenja the Goddess of the Sea, to various composers and conductors of Philharmonic Orchestras, and to honor places where political demonstrations took place in a flash and were evacuated as quickly to avoid arrests.  Montevideo honors Nelson

SlaveParqueAquateraenPocitos
This is the only statue I know of in Montevideo memorializing the contribution of the slaves, located in Parque Aquateraen in Pocitos

Mandella, musicians, doctors, poets, pioneers in the creation of both Olympic games and the World Cup soccer tournaments, and the heroes of the fight for Independence. Many monuments to the pioneers who settled from Europe. What is  honored and preserved in the monuments is an appreciation of beauty in art, dedication to freedom, and respect for the struggles of ordinary people. Wandering the city and moving through our days, seeing the variety of

Khalil Gilbran in Pocitos near the Navel Station
Khalil Gilbran in Pocitos near the Navel Station

monuments memorializing people and moments of history, it becomes evident that this city and culture honors humanity, connection, art, beauty, courage, and all the concerns of people who care about their world.  It makes a case for a society with warmth and an eternal soul, and it provides a weave between present and past that enriches and strengthens our connection to society, those around us, and those of the future that will be looking back to where we are now and pausing a moment to take in the meaning of lives well lived.  Arriba Montevideo!