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Friday, March 27, 2009

Visitors From Mexico

The visitors from Mexico came back again. They are the ones who have found a beautiful 300 sq. meter, house with swimming pool for the ridiculous price of $53K, near the river in Parque del Plata. It is the deal of the century. Now they are traveling back to the US to get all of their paperwork in order for residency and have put up their property in Mexico to sell. They already signed the contract for this Uruguayan house and will close in 90 days. They were even faster than us!

We made our appointment for our cedula, yesterday. Even though it is the beginning of Fall, the city keeps the public areas planted with flowers, as you can see here. When we got the the office, we had to spend less than 30 minutes. They filled out the form, took picture and fingerprints and they will issue the cedula next week. Interesting that the cedula (national ID) is normally issued in your birth certificate name. So Denise would have had a cedula with her maiden name on it. However, you can get your married name, but you have to provide a certified UY marriage license (which we had optained) and so now her official name in UY is: Denise de Glass (they had to add the "de"). Every three years, when she renews the cedula, we will have to obtain a new certified copy of the marriage license (they want to make sure you are still married and not divorced). So this ID has marital status, photos, fingerprints- pretty much everything about you. When the cedulas are issued next week, we can apply to have the deposit returned for the goods we had shipped in.

Busy week here but things are beginning to get finished.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Last Dangerous Tree

We had one last dangerous tree, that became of more concern after some of the roots had to be cut for the driveway. It started out about a foot from the column of our gate and as you can see, it was about 2 inches away as of this morning.

We had our tree cutter in today and they turned in a spectacular job, climbing up the tree and cutting little by little, so that there was no backlash. With only 2 inches to spare, we didn't want the wall to come down.

There was quite a variation in prices for the job. One guy quoted the job at 4500 pesos ($190 US) but our regular guy charged us 2000 pesos, and cut up the wood for the fireplace, as well. We now have enough wood to see us well into the winter. Unfortunately it is pine, so it will burn fast and a little dirty.

Today (Monday) we have on the agenda: Danny filling up our planters with the soil we had purchased. In addition, we are expected to have visitors from the great state of Hawaii, who are scoping out Uruguay as a possible retirement destination. So we have many things going today and tomorrow doesn't look to be much quieter. Tony (our Brit) had his hip operation, finally and came out successfully this morning.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Product Names

I am sure that these product names are very good names in Uruguay. But when we see them, it evokes a chuckle.

Denise got some cat food at the feria, yesterday- "Blisk" cat food, to be exact. It just seems so close to bliss. Your cat will experience sheer blisk when he tries this.

Does the "Odex" bottle remind you of Windex? Hmmm And yet, some of the products you buy here are imported, or manufactured under the company name. We do buy, for example, Raid bug spray, Heinz ketchup, etc.

"Mr. Musculo" is obvious, but "Blem"? Your furniture will shine more brightly than ever with Blem. I don't know- it sounds too much like blemish or flem (neither sound like a good cleaning product).

Still, other than strange product names, the products themsevles work fine and we are able to get all of the Blisk, Blem and Odex we need.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Nathan Has Arrived

While taking a walk the other day, Denise was approached by one of the many, many stray cats, in a neighborhood not far from here. Other than being very thin and having a little eye infection, it called for her attention.

So the newest member of the family, Nathan, is now on the scene. His eye infection will clear up with the medicine Denise got today from the vet and he has managed to make himself at home, despite the fact that there is hammering and sawing and cement mixers going on all day. He just curls up wherever he wants, as you can see from the hammer pillow he is using.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Ah Language!

We had a lovely visit from a possible future neighbor. Claudia, we will call her (names have been changed to protect the innocent) is a returning UY citizen who has lived in the States for many years. Her English is perfect (almost).

She was explaining to us the difficulty in evicting tenants in her newly purchased apartment in Montevideo. She informed us that the "Judge executed the tenants". We weren't aware that the judicial system was so severe in Uruguay.

Well, it turns out that the the verb "ejecutar", while it does mean "to execute" refers more to serving a legal document. So "executing the tenant" was merely serving them notice to quit the premises and was not a death sentence, as we first had thought. Good news for renters in Montevideo.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Local Restaurants

There are 2 little restaurants in our area. Both are located about 3 blocks away from us. They are normally operated only during the summer season, but at least one of them is going to try and keep "alive" all year.

The one that we have been going to has a simple menu, with milanesas, asado, hamburger (not what you would expect, since it includes sliced ham and an egg) and a few other items. The other night, Denise thought she would try something she had seen on the menu and could figure out- "picadas". Cost was 100 pesos ($4.20 US). When she got it home and opened it up- why it was a lovely hors d'oeuvre tray with ham, cheese, pickled mushrooms and other things. Wow! What a treat.

We only just found the other place. We'll try that soon. But it seems to have a view of the water from their tables. Looking forward to it.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Roadwork Updated

You could have knocked us over with feather, when the road crew started coming up our lowly little street. I have previously posted that we didn't expect any improvement, but sure enough I am glad to be proved wrong.

They have completely leveled and brought in load after load of crushed rock, then steamrolled it flat. They have also cut a ditch on the sides and each homeowner is responsible for buying their own concrete culverts (to go under the driveways). We only found out when a neighbor, who had to go away for business, came over and gave us the 900 pesos and asked us to give it to his neighbor to pay for the culverts. We weren't aware that we needed to do that, and the neighbor apologized for failing to ask us. Because he bought in lots of 12, he paid 1/2 price- we had to pay full price for our 4 (but we were happy to do it, so it can be installed by the road crew).

You can see the original sad state of the road. As you can see, it is little more than a dirt driveway. We are not complaining- that is just the way it was. Then you can see the view out of our newly installed windows. Even this picture is not the finished product. They have put several more loads of rock and rolled it as well (some would say the road is a little bit rock and a little bit roll- sorry).

The road is now totally rocked and with a nice crown to shed water. They are installing the drainage ditch and culverts today.

A very unexpected bonus for us, indeed!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Road Work

Well, even though the big tourist season is over, they are starting on road repair in front of our house and also throughout the Marindia area. I think I have mentioned that we live in a community of dirt roads. Except for the main avenue from the highway to the little traffic circle, all of the rest of the roads are dirt. Some of the roads are very rough, from erosion, since little if any provision is made for drainage.

So it was surprising to see the road crews out, leveling and putting a light topping of crushed rock down, then steamrolling it in. Of course, it won't stay smooth past the first few rains, but it will be an improvement, and the effort is appreciated.

Our road, on the other hand, being so small, will probably never see a road improvement project. It is a hazard to even walk on (you have to watch your step). But at least the Rambla (the road the runs parallel to the beach) will be smooth for a while.

Going Native

You may remember my earlier post (or substitute "rant" if you will) about the Uruguayan addiction to "dulce de leche", that sweet concoction that finds its way into almost every dessert. The other day I wanted to buy some ice cream, and out of the 7-10 varieties offered, only vanilla came without some form of dulce de leche. As a newcomers, we have wanted to avoid that overly sweet flavor, whenever possible.

That has all changed, now. After last week's water balloon fight and the flan served with dulce de leche, I decided to buy some of the brand that they used. It had a flavor more reminiscent of caramel topping than most of the dulce that we tried. We got it home and tried it on some vanilla ice cream (ironic, isn't it?) and it was delicious. This morning a spoonful or two was consumed straight from the container.

We have succumbed to the love affair that UY has with dulce. We may be going native.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Ran across an interesting drink here, in South America. It is probably more popular in Argentina, but I thought I would try it, anyway. I bought a bottle of Fernet, today, when I went shopping. Fernet is nothing you would drink straight. Here is what the Wikipedia says about it:

Produced in Milan, Italy. It is a bitter, aromatic spirit made from over 40 herbs and spices, including myrrh, rhubarb, chamomile, cardamom, aloe, and saffron, with a base of grape distilled spirits, and colored with caramel coloring. The drink, whose recipe is proprietary, was created as a medicine in Milan in 1845 by a young woman, Maria Scala. Scala's name became Maria Branca through marriage. The Fernet-Branca is still produced in Milan by the company Fratelli Branca, overseen by the Branca family, though the recipe of the Italian product differs slightly from that sold in America. Fernet-Branca is 45% alcohol by volume and is dark brown in color.
Because of its list of ingredients, a number of home remedies call for Fernet-Branca, including for the treatment of menstrual and gastrointestinal discomfort, hangovers, baby colic, and (formerly) cholera.

As you can see, it is not a drink to be taken lightly. However, apparently someone, somehow, somewhere decided to try it with Coca-Cola. And that has become the salvation for an otherwise undrinkable and unpopular concoction. It seems that Fernet and Coke can almost called the national drink of Argentina (at least according to the Wikipedia).

Alone, it is impossible to drink, but with coke- voila, a masterpiece. "Things go better with Coke" and that goes for Fernet, as well.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Stop Thief!

Early this morning, at about 6:30, when I got up to get a drink of water, I surprised a thief who had broken into our back yard. This is not the first time we have been robbed. A few years ago in Seattle, our garage had been burglarized and thousands of dollars of tools were stolen. This proved to be much less disastrous.

Those are his shoes. This is apparently what happened. He came onto the deck, sat down in our conveniently placed plastic chair and removed his shoes, so he could squeeze into the opening of our backyard gate. We have ordered one-way glass, but it has not been installed yet.

While inside, he opened one of the storage compartments, but the natural gas tanks would have been impossible to steal. Then, he either deficated or threw up, big time. Now the reason that I can't be sure is that Denise forbids me to smell it and make a certain identification (you know how women are). If it was throw-up, then it came as a result of my turning on a bathroom light and flushing the toilet, which would have surprised the sh** out of him. Then I went to the kitchen to get a glass of water and looking out the window, saw someone crouching just under the window, outside the locked gate. I shouted at him and he took off running (without his shoes, as I would find out later). By the time I unlocked the front door and the front door gate, he was long gone, painfully, I hope.

In Uruguay, crime against persons is not all that common, but theft is. As I sit here with my coffee and write this post, it is most satisfying to think that the thief got away with nothing, and lost his shoes in the bargain. I guess you could say, in this case, that crime doesn't pay. Or that you wouldn't want to be in his shoes (sorry, I couldn't help myself).

Since that early morning visit, we have increased security. We have added additional motion sensors, exterior security lights and installed glass in the parrila openings. Next week we will install broken glass on the only accessible garden wall and that will help to eliminate unwanted guests. You can never prevent such a thing from happening, but you can make it less desirable.

This has been the Sunday morning crime report from Marindia.