OK, with the first week under our belts, we are prepared to give those of you who have never been to Uruguay (and that would be most of you) our impressions.
Uruguay is a bit worn. It shows its age. And yet there are grand reminders of the days when UY was rich. Colonial architecture abounds on both the coast and in the main city, Montevideo. The capital is kind of like New York in the 50's, without the skyscrapers. You can walk to most parts of the city, but a taxi ride is no more than $5 to anyplace. That brings up traffic.
You take your life in your hands walking or driving the streets. "Pare" (Stop) signs are mere suggestions. On many of the taxi rides we took, Denise dug her hands onto my leg and I was praying. But we got there safely. Taxis have no fear of buses and believe me buses have no fear of anything. Still- it all goes smoothly, though I don't know how.
The food is fantastic. Restaurant meals with wine or beer are usually under $20 and you only need to eat one meal a day. Most Uruguayans would disagree, but one big meal is all we can handle. The portions are so large you would be shocked. You order a portion of fish for $8 and they bring you more than 2 people can eat. We have learned to share a portion between us. Salads are great, and haven't seen many vegetables.
The BBQ (Parilla) is unbelievable! It is about 8' of red hot coals with lamp, beef, chicken and pork all going at once. They have a huge wood fire going at the back and rake out the coals as needed. When they serve you a portion of sausage, for example, it comes with a metal tray on top of a receptacle for coals (you have your own personal BBQ). And the sausages are wonderful. I have had lamb and beef, so far. Next stop pork town... This is me, in front of the parilla (pronounced "parisha") holding pork ribs, with a stupid expression on my face.
The people seem to be the nicest people ever. They all seem so patient as we struggle along with little spanish. I think they are amused. We laugh a lot. I have mastered the "I haven't the foggiest clue what you are saying" look. I do it well. Denise is doing quite well and remembering words for me that I can't. She does quite well on her own. The Rosetta Stone program is helping.
The beach is fantastic. All through the country you have a beach. And you are never far from it. Even in Montevideo the beach is wonderful. Like a Miami beach. Of course, it is cold now. Monday is the first day of winter. And it gets down to 35 degrees and windy. But many days are very sunny, so it balances out. If the beach is so beautiful in this weather, I can hardly wait to see it when winter is over....
Well, that is about all for this week. Will try to post some pictures when I figure out how.