Edy just returned from a visit back to the US. Here’s how Uruguay looks! The best way to get 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. The 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
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
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.