Tag Archives: Traveling to Uruguay

Exploratory Tour of Uruguay

johnIn May John S., a teacher and scientific minded Virginian in his early 50’s came to Uruguay for 2 weeks to find out as much as he could about the country and possible relocation.  His wife Sylvia was counting on him to post lots of photos since she didn’t come due to work, and he not only posted great photos but lots of comments about his experiences and thoughts on the place.  This is a compilation of those touring notes with some additions by John after getting back home and contemplating the trip.


John S. in Uruguay….an exploratory tour


May 20 & 21
These are from my first two days in Montevideo, Uruguay.


This place is beautiful. Going east to Punta del Este, probably mvdstreettomorrow as I have a meeting for lunch on Saturday with some Americans I met in the MVD airport.



My first Uruguayan meal. They mix mayonnaise with cilantro and it makes an excellent topping for the grilled steak. The Olive oil is Uruguayan.


May 22, Day 3
Another busy day in Uruguay. Went to go up in the tallest building to catch a view of Montevideo and they wouldn’t let me go because I had the time wrong for today and its in the afternoon. Then I went to the oldcityUruguayan World Trade Center which has 4 high rise building and they wouldn’t let me go up in any of them – bummer. Then I ate at a Japanese Restaurant and then went to visit my new friend Edy, who I had dinner at her home last night (it was her bookstorehusband’s B’day), and we went to the British Cemetery here, and learned each other’s history and talked about teaching and real estate and other points of interests. Then (after a number of things happened) we went to a restaurant about 3 blocks from her apt and had a most excellent meal. I’m in a hotel instead of a hostelB&B (which was very nice and at $26 a night was really cheap) but tonight I’m going to sleep very soundly as I won’t be able to hear anyone who decides to break into song on the street at 1am (which happened last night but I do understand that in Uruguay this is considered just a part of life)! Tomorrow by 9:30 I depart for Punta Del Este and meet archa couple that I met at the airport just 3 days ago. They invited me to come and I’m taking them up on their offer. They found me a home to rent for $50/night. Remember its getting colder here as they are backward to us in seasonality. Their winter is our summer and visa versa. I didn’t take very many pictures today and will post them tomorrow. It is still 80* here which is really unusual as this is almost Thanksgiving time if we were in the States but it should get a bit cooler tomorrow when a front comes through and we should be getting a high of 60. I will be grateful because I mostly packed fall clothes but this feels like summer! Wish I had brought another pair of shorts!


These are from today in Montevideo…

The Rambla in Montevideo Journal

The Antel (phone company) Tower that the would not let me go up in because I (actually they) gave me the wrong time. Later in the day I went to the Montevideo World Trade Center where there are 4 towers and I couldn’t go up in any of them- bummer.


La Courta Restaurant (The Court) in Montevideo. Was recommended by my B&B owner so I tried it. Had Grilled Chicken with mashed potatoes. Excellent


Near Independence Sq – I can see it but you probably can’t.


To the right in this picture is the Montevideo Leather Works were I bought a belt that should last for 20 years. I hope I last for another 20 years!


president’s office – Pepe Mujica who was the immediate past President used to drive here in his beat up old VW Beetle!


salvo palace, An awesome old hotel that is now been condo’d


The door to the Gaucho Museum. An amazingly funky building. The Gauchos are interesting too!


Edy Kizaki’s Refrigerator door. This is the kind fishing you will find in Uruguay!


Dinner at Edy home. It was Steve’s 67th B’day. The couple on the left, she’s an American who met him on her job and fell in love. He is Guatemalan and speaks perfect English. The pair in the back is Diane and her son Chris. They live in Rocha and were in Montevideo so Chris could renew his passport at the American Embassy.


Steve and Daniel with Max, a 13 year old blind dachshund who is a sweet dog.



May23 day 4

Another exceptional day in Uruguay. Woke up in the Regency Hotel regencyat 7:30 and went downstairs to my first Uruguayan breakfast, which is Regencybreakfastbasically a European breakfast – no bacon and eggs but pastries and fruit and coffee. Then got in my car and headed east to Punta del Este to meet Mike and Judy Curry, who I met in the airport as we were going through customs. The invited me to come visit them and of course I did! Also the temperature dropped by 20 degrees and it was about 60* today with intermittent rain, which they have not had in about 5 weeks.

rambla1Had a lovely drive east, first on the Rambla and then on the IB, which is a toll road where twice I had to pay 65 pesos, which is $2.50. at 90 to 110km/hr it makes for a pretty American kind of ride. Stopped at Piriaopolis and small town west of Punta del Este, which is gorgeous and it turns out where the Curry’s are renting a small farm. RamblaHotelI had to do it or I would have been too early. I spent about 20 minutes looking at the town and then headed on to Punta del Este and arrived at 11:59, one minute early. GPS systems are most excellent!!!

So they took me first to where I am staying, which is called Solano piriapolisand it has probably 50 apartment buildings and I am staying in a one bedroom apt which I got for $50/nite. It is very very nice. All of the buildings are empty as this is considered vacation homes and the place only is crowded in November -February and is livingbasically dead the rest of the year! Apparently it is very popular with Argentines and Brasilians who come here because a) it is a very beautiful place and b) because their currencies are going downhill fast so they buy these as hard assets and park their wealth in these buildings.

Then I got in their car and went into Punta del Este. PDE is also pdelEbasically empty as the country is heading into their winter. So we explored Punta and they showed me all the sights. As Punta is a peninsula it has the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Rio de la Plata on the other side. The Rio side is much calmer and has excellent beaches. The Atlantic side is mostly a rocky shore but there is an excellent sand beach about in the middle of PDE . Then we stopped for lunch at Virazon Restaurant and I had virizon2an excellent Paella with scallops and octopus and shrimp and fish, etc on rice. Then we went east into Maldonado (yes I was staying on Maldonado Street in Montevideo) which is where everyone who eggsworks in PDE lives. We stooped at a grocery and I bought bacon and eggs (the butcher had to slice the bacon off of a big slab of bacon meat) some Olive Oil (Uruguayan) and some Uruguayan made NON ALCOHOLIC beer called Pilsen Soul! ( I found it at Virazon!!!).

puntaballena3Then we went to back west a bit to Punta Ballena (Point of Whales) which is even more upscale than PDE. Very large and very (VERY) expensive homes. Some had to be 20,000 sqft. Even though these homes are empty many had security guards watching them.

Then they brought me back to Solena, and dropped me off. So I am in the apt and writing this. What an awesome day. I will go see their place tomorrow and then see what develops.

My first Uruguayan breakfast. Continental/European style. Pastries and fruit and coffee.


My bedroom at the Regency Hotel


evening: My place for Saturday and Sunday nights. $50/night and there are two other apts occupied, the rest are waiting for November.


Virazon Restaurant.  Punta del Este is a very nice vacation place and lots of Argentines and Brasilians are buy homes and apts to get hard assets as their currency is hurting in their home countries.


Another home in Punta Ballena. This one has a thatched roof and neat statue.



visit to Mike & Judy Curry


This is Mike and Judy’s solar hot water heater. It does have an electric component if its shady for more than a 2 days but on sunny days Judy says the water is “nuclear”. Because this is the southern hemisphere they have to point them to the north while in the northern hemisphere they must face south.


A wild chicken is what they call these birds that are all over Uruguay. They have little fear of people and they will come up on the deck.


Piriapolis from Mike and Judy’s deck


The front of their chacra. Its about 800 sq. ft and has 2 bedrooms and 1 bath.


Mike demonstrating how to use the grill. It has a Uruguayan name but it has slipped my mind!


You pile the logs on the left and build a roaring fire and then you rake the coals under the grill (while adding more wood to the fire) and you can adjust the height of the grill to control the temperature. You see these inside in restaurants and they work very very well.


The living space and kitchen behind



Steve, an orthodontist from Minnesota who moved to Uruguay a bit more than a year ago. Very nice guy.


This is a low speed 4 stroke engine in a front yard in Piriapolis. This is what you need to produce electricity from “biogas”, ie. methane from poo. Can be cattle or pigs or chickens or people, put it in an airtight bag or box and give it a few days and you will get a flow of biogas! Keep adding poo and keep making power. This was an awesome find for me. These things run at a maximum speed of maybe 300-500 rpm.


The sun has set and the lights are on.


An awesome veggie pizza Judy cooked up.


These eggs are store bought but the yolks look like the ones we used to get that are “home grown”.


Long story on this place but some really nice homes


My first Uruguayan bacon. Thickest slices I ever had but the cooked up excellently.


May 25 at 5:24pm ·

A very long day of cruising in the car but I saw the Atlantic coast up to Rocha, then went inland and north then turned west a bit and then south to Minas where I am in a nice hotel right in the central square. So the wifi wasn’t working in my room so as I was working with the hotel lady (who speaks no english) I ran into 2 Americans with their Russian garndmother who gave me some pointers and we shared emails and Facebook contacts.

Uruguay is an awesome country.


You probably can’t see them but there are vertical windmills on the top of this building.

Brenda: love your pics. As opposed to horizontal windmills?
John: The horizontal windmills are about 500 ft tall, and 3 massive blades and are all over the country. I hear that windmills produce about 30-40% of the electricity in Uruguay.
Shelley:  Why is it still so expensive then?
John: Because they just put the mills up and they have to import all their other fuels.

There is very serious money in Punta.


This is the lighthouse at San Ignacio.


This is an olive orchard with this huge building. It is private property.


Dinner in Minas…


Lamb Serrano with leeks and white rice. The rice was in its own pile but I was hungry and ate some before I remembered to take a pix. The spread in front of the plate is very finely made chicken salad type of a spread. It was, of course, delicioso! It was another excellent dinner.


This a Serrento type dessert. Graham cracker crumbs soaked in coffee, which sugar and some other stuff in it. I ate the whole thing and scrapped the bowl.


Loaded down now with baked potatoes, 4 whole chickens, some red peppers plus some sausages.


May 26


Not sure but somehow the phone got switched to selfie mode in the olive orchard…After this I turned it off and back on and fixed it. Its foggy because my fingerprints are all over the working side of the iPhone.


So someone has brought 3 old railroad cars, and track, up this hill/mountain to n=build a home. Coming along nicely.




So I asked the owner of the Plaza Hotel were I stayed in Minas last night ( he speaks almost perfect english!!!) how I should route myself to get to Durazno. He suggested that I should first go look at Villa Serrana. So I drove back north on Ruta 8 and went to Villa Serrana. I am really glad I did!

There are two roads to the Villa and he routed me to the 2nd on as it is paved. I came back on the dirt road. Glad he made that suggestion as the paved road I took up the hills and the dirt road coming down the hills! This is the entrance.


Stopped at this Catholic Church and met 3 really nice small dogs.


Quary near Minas:


They have the huge VW trucks pulling double trailers. Some haul logs, some haul grain and some haul cows, though those are single trailers.


In San Ramon I stopped first for 2 Pilsen Soul (the N/A beer) and a bag of Lay’s Potato Chips. Right out back, were bushes of flowers. Its fall and everywhere there are flowers blooming, seems strange to someone from Virginia!


I love the alternative folks popping up everywhere.


And then a couple hours of driving and I got my first Uruguayan “Hambergesa”. This one is the top of the line, the Hambergesa de Milaneso. It has freshly grilled burger, a fried egg, a slice of ham, mozzarella cheese + lettuce, tomato, onion and some mayo. It cost $2.70 or 70 pesos. It was AWESOME!


I saw km after km of row cropped fields. They are bare now as the harvest has occurred. But there are greenhouses still producing.


The Hotel Santa Christina were I am staying tonight, Just to the south of Durazno. This is the “Center of Uruguay”. Nice town with lots of kids and Mom’s on motorbikes with a kid riding in front and sometimes driving at what appears to be 4 yrs old!


A friendly man checked me in. He spoke no English and I spoke no Spanish, but it worked out. The room was $84/night.


Fire in the lobby fireplace. It was 47 when I got up and hit about 63.


The pool. Surprised it is still open. Remember its fall here!

I got my first close up of a windmill. I have heard that Uruguay gets 30-40% of its electricity from windmills!


So the restaurant here at the Hotel Santa Cristina is called La Perdiz or, as you can see in English – The Famous Grouse. They have it written in english pretty much everywhere. They also have a few dozen bottles of scotch called The Famous Grouse on the bar. So who ever owns this place is definitely into Scotch!


I had chicken in a spinach sauce. Here is the chef cooking MY chicken on the perillada.


These are sausages of various types on “standby” waiting for someone to order them. They are a big part of the entrees.


I ordered a “Simple Salad” that they said I could have one of the list of specials. It could have been, lets say cucumbers. I asked for Hearts of Palm and my waiter brought me a bowl of nothing but Hearts of Palm. I though there would be some lettuce but this was a big bowl of just Hearts of Palm. And yes I started to eat it before I remembered to take a picture. Another excellent meal!


Cheesecake with Raspberries and a cup of coffee. Small cup but it packs a punch!


May 27 John Strause The breakfast this morning at the Hotel Santa Cristina. Typical Uruguayan breakfast.  The coffee pot and bread with a toaster. The British flag must be because the owners must be Brits or Scots.  This is a very nice hotel. If you ever find your way to Durazno, Uruguay stay here. You won’t be disappointed.



John Strause This is Carmelo were I stopped for lunch. I stopped at 3 because I was famished. Walked into the place to find the waiter eating spaghetti. He got up to find the chef and came back and said the chef had left but the owner would fix me a simple meal. So I chose fried chicken breast with french fries. When the owner came out with the meal, which was big and delicious, it turns out he speaks pretty good english as he had worked for several years in Dawson Creek, British Columbia. It seems everywhere I go I run across someone who speaks english.



There’s my lunch! Also every place will give you bread but its the spread they delivers that is a) different in every place and b) excellent in every place I have been so far!


Heading to Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay’s St. Augustine. Founded in the mid 1600’s it about a 100 years younger than St Augustine. This place is so far south it took the Spanish another 100 years to get here.

May 28

The Raddison Hotel & Casino. They wanted $150/night and I said NO. Came two blocks over to the Plaza Hotel and have a nice room for $61/night. I asked a Raddison desk assistant and he recommended it.



The (or a) Rowing Club with a ramp to get the boats in the water.


Walking to the waterfront.


John Strause The structure may be ruins but the design is too cool. These bricks are from the 1600’s.


The lighthouse. You can climb it but the Naval guys had just closed it for the night.


See the ruins. St Augustine Fort was built out of cochina or shells maybe 20 ft thick. These are stone walls maybe 6 feet thick. Unreal.


Two different Uruguayan Navy vessels. Both crews got off while I was walking down to take this picture.


This fish car is right outside the Aquarium.


Getting dark.


Inside of colonial government building.


May 28 at 10:16pm

My last night in Uruguay.  For the last 10 days I have discovered my idea of paradise and it is in Uruguay. Mucho gracias, Uruguay.




In the river, the water is brown as this is the west end of the Rio de la Plata and the water is coming from the Rio Uruguay that runs south from Paraguay and Brazil.


May 29 at 6:26pm

I’m in Panama and homeward bound. Won’t land until 12.55 on Saturday morning .  Big rainstorm here but having been here before I bet it won’t delay my departure. I AM looking forward to seeing Sylvia even if she is asleep.

As for Uruguay, what an absolutely awesome place!

I asked John why he wanted to relocate to Uruguay, and here is his answer.

Why would I, a person who lives in my version of paradise (and it is paradise!), be coming to tour Uruguay with an eye to living there? My deep conviction is that the land of the free and the home of the brave doesn’t exist in America any more. It is purely because I feel America does not honor and practice our Constitution and our people have lost their understanding of just how important our Constitution is to having our land be a free place, where our citizens will be brave, if threatened on their home turf.

I am a history teacher, and when you look at the facts, America has not followed the Constitution since at least 1913 when the Federal Reserve Bank was created. I say this because the Constitution says in Article 1, Section 8 that the Congress must  “coin money, and regulate the value thereof.” The Congress WILLINGLY gave up this REQUIREMENT of the Constitution when they created the Federal Reserve Bank and gave the Federal Reserve Bank the authority to “coin money” but mostly when it says to regulate the value of our money. Congress does not do this anymore. The Federal Reserve Bank does this now. So our Congress no longer controls either the coining of money nor determining the value thereof.

The Federal Reserve Bank is supposed to be independent of control by anyone other than its own directors. However they are appointed by the higher ups at the commercial banks, which are privately owned. The Fed has two duties, to maintain the value of our currency and to keep our public as closed to fully employed as is possible.

They have failed on both counts. For starters an ounce of gold used to cost $20 US.

That was its price, as set by Congress. An ounce of silver used to be $1 US, also set by Congress. When Franklin Roosevelt determined that gold was a threat to our economy, (mainly because the Federal Reserve HAD ISSUED MORE PAPER DOLLARS than there was gold bullion in hand to match up to the paper), he wrote an Executive Order that forced all Americans to turn in any gold coins they had and then once he has collected most all of the coins he revalued the currency by saying gold was now worth $35 US per ounce. That is a 43% devaluation of the dollar. Did our Congress do anything about that? The answer is NO! They did nothing while our currency shrunk in value by 43%.  And this was 23+ years before I was born!

What is the value of our currency today? Well the value of gold in dollars is now .01687 or 1.7¢ per dollar or a devaluation of 98% since our founding. So basically if you are holding only Federal Reserve Notes your currency has declined to basically 1.7¢ where it used to buy $1 in items of value.

As for its job on employment, the government claims that unemployment now resides at 5.5%. But this is not true for the government does not follow people when they STOP looking for work because there is none available. They are missing all these people who have given up looking for work. That number equals 23.2% of people who are not working but would like to be working “full time”. (This is from Shadowstats.com which follows economics “the old way” i.e. before the government started redefining what these words mean.)

So right there you have two of the main reasons why I am looking at Uruguay. Our government in the United States is not “of the People, by the People or for the People”. It is being run by a small group of individuals who could care less what actually happens to “We The People” as long as these individuals “stay on top” and “run the show”.

Our country was supposed to be operated by the people/citizens. These people would elect representatives who would consult with each other and when in agreement, would pass laws for the rest of us to follow, mainly because it makes sense to do so.

But by now most of our representatives are 1) wealthy when elected  2) get even wealthier when they are in office and 3) could care less what happens to their constituents, i.e. the people with little or no wealth to their names who put them into the legislature and 4) take their “orders” on how to vote from their “party leadership” which is either Republican or Democrat. But both of these parties have only one goal and that is to be re-elected again (in 2, 4,or 6 years terms) and that directs all their activities. So the Republican Party, once the party of liberation for black people in slavery, now stands against all minorities (except the wealthy) as they struggle for equal rights and services. The Democrats used to be the party of resistance to change, but now is the PARTY OF CHANGE, that wants to liberalize every action that our government takes.

The thing is that our Constitution, the foundation for our government, makes no mention of political parties and many of our founding fathers were against having any political parties at all. The creation of political parties was the beginning of the end for our country, and unless we can terminate both of these parties our country is lost.

This is more than just sad, as the American people were once given the power to rule via representatives, but they let that power wane because the never stepped up to see it enforced. I do not wish to be living here when this ending finally happens.

Edy’s note:  these opinions are those of John, and do not necessarily reflect those of “Who Is Uruguay”.  (It may be unfortunate that I myself don’t have the degree of knowledge necessary to debate these points, although I have started paying attention!)  But it is important to note that in conversation with many of those who have come here from the United States in recent years, these themes crop up over and over again.  Uruguay, being a small country, may have the advantage of being able to directly address some issues of the country as they crop up, avoiding the difficulties in even understanding what is happening in such colossals as the U.S. or other large countries.  We all know we buy too much and we are generally in too much debt for things we don’t really use or need that much.  Our impulse to collect luxury “toys” and other costly things, our distraction with fashion and other disposable elements of culture, our lack of concern with how over-consumption is damaging our world beyond reason, are a seemly acceptable (since they are being accepted by so many) result of what I have secretly called to myself “consumer slavery” ever since I got out of university and got my first job.  We are manipulated into wanting better more and different, whereas right in front of us are the treasures of our loved ones, the beauty of the luminous natural world, and the arch of the heavens telling us that we are very small in the great scheme of things.  These treasures get trampled in our rush to possess… and you can’t take it with you.  Not only that, not only that you can’t take it with you, but it becomes tarnished once it’s yours simply because it was the glamour of the hunt to acquire that made it so attractive in the first place.  And it takes you away from living life to the full.  Uruguay seems to present a relatively tranquil and balanced way of living and a connectedness that is rare in our North American society.  I guess that’s my two cents.  John, it was great meeting you while you were here and we wish you the best in your attempt to make it all come together and move to Uruguay with Sylvia!




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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.