Much has been said about Atlantida (our "big city" to the west). Atlantida is one of the main cities on the coast, with it's own spectacular Tienda Inglesa, many restaurants and full services year around. However, little if anything gets written about the little town within walking distance of our house, Salinas. Since yesterday was such a wonderful sunny day (though cold to the bone), we took Nate back to the veterinarian's to have the stitches removed (he came through well), then walked back to town for the feria.
By North American standards, Salinas isn't much of a town. It would be a rest stop on a trip through the desert. A few blocks of "civilization" to break up the monotony of the long drive. But, on the main highway running from Montevideo to Punta del Este, Salinas is a noteworthy stop. Here are some of it's features. It has: 2 restaurants, one empanada store, several hardware stores a bakery, 2 grocery stores, several pharmacies, veterinarian, post office, several medical clinics, DVD rentals, and actually I could go on an on with many more stores and services. Driving down the street, it looks deceptively sparse, but there are actually many stores tucked in along Julietta (the main street).
In addition, Salinas has it's own traffic light across the Ruta (main highway), an entry arch to the town, paved main roads and many of the side roads are paved for many blocks. Add to that the weekly feria (farmer's market) on Thursday morning and we have almost anything we could get in Atlantida (about 5 k's away) within a kilometer's walk.
After the feria, Denise went out to the Ruta and took some pictures of the overhead walkway, next to the light (above). A sign tells you to use that walkway to cross the Ruta. I don't know that anybody does. As you can see from this picture (below left), at about 11:00 am on Thursday morning, on the main E/W highway, the two pedestrians seem to have no trouble crossing the almost empty road.
Now this picture, below on the right, shows the steep set of steps leading up the the walkway. You will notice that one side seems to be leveled off for wheelchair access. But can you imagine someone actually trying to use this? It would be a herculean feat to get up it and a roller coaster ride down the other side.
We made a decision to try and live closer to the budget, and so this means fewer trips to Tienda Inglesa. To show you just how serious is our resolve, I am heading into Atlantida, today, to cancel our Cable TV service! Yes we are going to be going cold turkey.
The feria is a great resource that we have not been taking advantage of. When you shop at TI, you tend to buy imported items that are very overpriced. For example, you can buy a package of Old El Paso brand flour tortillas for 120 pesos (about $5.25 for 10). You can get pancake syrup, Hershey's chocolate sauce and a host of other imported products for really ridiculous prices. Do we really need those things (well maybe the pancake syrup)? So we have decided to try and buy as much from the ferias as we can and use Tienda Inglesa for items that we can't buy there or at the 2 local stores. And the feria yesterday was loads and loads of fun. The picture above is interesting, because in the background, you can see a bunch of school children with their teacher. This was a field trip. The children had notebooks and the teacher took them to each vendor, and had them write down the items and prices. So we are just learning what school children know from the beginning. In addition to all the stalls selling vegetables, fish and delicatessen items, you can buy clothing, pirated DVD's (there doesn't seem to be much of a law against it), spices and at the end of the street, you even see garage sale items for sale. I bought incense at this little stand (15 sticks for 10 pesos). I love the sandalwood variety and the girl seemed to be amused that I would buy 75 sticks of one type.
After the feria, we walked home on the Rambla. On the way we stopped at a bread store and bought some empanadas, some bread and a few biscochos (like cookies or small pastries). At the end of the main street, there is some type of obelisk to mark the location and the building next to this is a Copsa bus office. Past that the parking for the beach at Salinas. The beach is very pretty there, but during the high season (Dec-Feb) it is very busy, as are most of the beaches. The Copsa office is very sparse and kind of dingy, but, it is an office and I suppose if you speak Spanish well enough, you can get schedule and fare information. There seem to be several of the lines that come up Julietta and make the turnaround at the office.
So our trip to Salinas was very refreshing. And on cold days like these (there was pretty thick ice in the fountain), it is good to get out in the sunshine and enjoy our surroundings. But let's not get carried away. Yes we are opening all the blinds and letting the bright sunlight in. But we are also keeping the fire going.... and I'm going to curl up with a good book and enjoy the day.