Category Archives: Maldonado Lifestyle

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.

 

 

 

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.

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.