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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Road to Minas

No, this is not an old Bob Hope movie. This is where we found ourselves this past Wednesday, when we celebrated our 37th anniversary. Denise had mentioned some weeks ago that she would like to take a little day trip up to Minas (some 80 K's away). However, the weather was not being very cooperative, and it wasn't until Tuesday that we could see a good weather report for the next day. The day turned out to be gorgeous, with lots of sun and warm.

We fired up the "Krispy Kreme" and hoped it would make the trip. We had been having some troubles, and weren't sure it would be OK. Ran like a top, once we got on the road and it was warmed up- so we got under way. On the way out of Atlántida, we saw a house with this antique car used as a decoration and a little later we saw a house with rows and rows of antique cars.

We travel up the ruta, entered into another county (Lavalleja) and traveled through the little town of Solis. In no time, we arrived at Parque Salus- one of the things we wanted to see. Salus is a bottled water from a natural spring and they also have a Patricia brewery (a popular Uruguayan beer), that uses the water, as well.

The park is quite extensive. They have a section for families and a nice display of local plants and trees in the area leading up to the "Fuente del Puma" (the fountain at the source of the spring). Salus claims that this natural spring is one of the major springs in the world. Just next to the spring is the bottling plant. While at this park, I spotted portable toilets that were called "POLYJOHNS". I just thought this was worth mentioning. Denise, of course, thought this was irrelevant.

As we drove back down to the entrance we stopped by the little hotel, with it's restaurant and decided to look in. We had planned to find something in Minas, but the hotel was so inviting that we decided to eat there. We didn't make a mistake.

The restaurant was beautiful. There were only 2 other diners, there, since this was Wednesday and the middle of winter. Denise ordered a fish with spinach and roquefort cheese sauce and I had a chicken breast with a hollandaise sauce. We ordered Patricia, naturally, and noted that these bottles had "SALUS" raised on the bottle. It was a very nice meal, actually one of the best we have had in Uruguay. I would highly recommend stopping here if you are in the neighborhood.

Next, we headed on into Minas. We didn't know what to expect, but we were a little disappointed. There was a nice park, running along a river, as you enter town, and a large open plaza at the center of town (naturally), and there was one picturesque street, but overall, Minas was not that noteworthy. We started to head back home after walking around the city and almost forgot one of the attractions that we came for- the statue of Artigas that lays claim to being the largest concrete equestrian sculpture in the world.

We asked about 4 different groups of people where the statue was. I am pretty sure we were clear, in our limited Spanish, but we got very vague directions. The people, however, were very friendly and tried to be helpful. Eventually Denise found a group of women (men were no help) who directed us to Cerro Artigas, on a back road that I was sure would lead to nothing.

It turned out to be a lovely park overlooking the valley, where Minas is located, as well as the rest of the countryside. And the statue was impressive. Is it the biggest in the world? Well, Wikipedia says it is, so it must be true, no?

As the sun was going down, we headed back home. Denise noted the speed bumps in all of the little towns, "Lomadas" and took a picture. I thought lomada sounded like a special cut of meat, and was glad I didn't order it at the restaurant.

We were happy that we got to do something on our anniversary and also see some sights at the same time.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

It's Raining Again!

Today is Sunday and it's raining! 

I thought I would use today's post as a way to clean up loose ends.
A friend named Carolina, enjoyed my Spanish phrases post and mentioned one more saying I should add to my list. She lives here in Uruguay and often helps me out with my translation needs. When it's a particularly rainy day in English we say that, "It's raining cats and dogs!" Well, you probably guessed it but here in Uruguay they say, "Caen pinguinos de punta" or roughly that it is raining/falling penguins! The Antarctic and nearby Pantagonia in Argentina no doubt influencing that thought.

For those of you curious about the weather here, It is winter! The high was supposedly 55 degrees F. today, lows were 49 degrees F. We had 1 inch of rain in the day and another 1/4 inch added this evening! Monday will be an expected high of 49F dropping to a low of 43. Tuesday night a low of 41 degrees F. It feels colder to me! It might be my imagination but I seem to feel a cold Arctic type of wind. The water is at our south. The South is the cold region down here and the north side of properties are the warm spots, unlike Washington State where moss grew on the north side of trees, I still have to remind myself that I'm living in a reverse situation as evidenced by the seasons here.

To clean up/clear up another post entry, "Anonymous from Montevideo" says that, the phrase "La Celeste" in reference to the Uruguay soccer team comes from the color of the National Soccer teams' sport shirt. Remember that Celeste means sky-blue, in addition to some kind of heavenly body. They wore that color and won a world cup so decided it was going to stay the teams shirt color!

By the way, number 10 is Diego Forlans' jersey number. He is a popular, rather famous soccer player, a blond cutie, from Uruguay who now plays with Madrid, Spain. They borrowed him back to play forward on the Uruguayo team during the World Cup.

Well, that about wraps up my loose end list. We almost went to Montevideo today to attend an Expat Luncheon. They have them every Sunday in a local restaurant. In the Atlantida area they have a similar luncheon a couple of Thursdays a month. People who have moved here or are thinking about moving here can meet English speaking people and ask questions about living in Uruguay from a foreign perspective. Wally and I would have gone to the gathering but decided to stay home today because as you heard it was raining Penguins today.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Field Service

Witnesses call going door to door, "field service". The "field" being our territory. However, this past weekend, we enjoyed field service in a real field. We went with the group to work outlying territory in the campos, or rurals. Is there any difference between field service in the US and that in Uruguay?

There are a just a few differences, really. One is very interesting. When you meet together before field service, you kiss (on the cheek) each one of the participants (hermanos y hermanas). This, of course, is not limited to Witnesses. The common greeting here is a kiss on the cheek (men shake hands, unless they are good friends or workmates). Then, after several hours of working, and before you go home, you kiss each and everyone goodbye. I don't remember doing that in the US- a handshake was the best you got, or just a brief wave "hello". So that is a positive difference.

The other difference is that you never approach a door and just knock. Uruguayans are very territorial, so the best you can do is get as close to a house as is reasonable and clap your hands. This makes is very easy to be "not home" even if you "are home". I much prefer being able to walk up to the door and knock, but we will get used to clapping.

Overall, we had a wonderful day. Denise actually spoke with a few people (she has no fear) while I found nobody at home. But it was fun working with the group. Since few have cars, and rely mostly on bicycles or motorcycles, we crowded 3 in the back seat of the "bug". Too bad the camera chose that moment to die, or you would have seen the answer to the riddle, "How are Jehovah's Witnesses like a can of sardines?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Arriba La Celeste!

Well, there is not a doubt (sin duda) that the whole country of Uruguay has but one subject on their minds and that is the World Cup (La Copa del Mundo) and Uruguay's possibility of winning in the quarter finals this Tuesday against the Netherlands.

Today, I am focusing on the Spanish language itself and why I'm having such difficulty in learning it!

I have my reasons! In English there are 6 tenses; Present, Past, Future (these are simple tenses) and Present perfect, Past perfect, and Future perfect. (these are compound tenses). In other words, 3 simple and 3 based on the simple ones. In Spanish there are 14 tenses!  Each tense in Spanish has 6 separate words to learn for the same idea. let's take the future tense in English, just learn the word will or shall stick that word in front of your verb and voila! you have the future! for example: I will eat, you will eat, she will eat, he will eat, it/one/people/ they will eat. See how simple! In Spanish, the word EAT would change 6 different ways. "I will eat", becomes, "Comeré". Okay, so the 3 English words become just 1 word in Spanish. However, then, you have to turn around and learn 5 more Spanish words for EAT, just in this one tense alone, the future. You will eat, Comerás, he will eat, Comerá etc....You get the idea! for the present tense learn 6 more words for eat! For the past, learn 6 different words just for the one word EAT.  etc... All in all be prepared to learn 96-100 separate words for the word eat!

To give my brain a rest, I decided to look at a few Spanish sayings instead, like "Arriba La Celeste". My grandmother's name was Celeste. She passed away many years ago at a ripe old age. I always knew her name was heavenly, like "un cuerpo celeste" (a heavenly body). When I saw "Arriba la Celeste" in connection with the World cup and Uruguay I looked it up. Arriba means "above" but also "Come on", or "hurray for!" Celeste besides meaning "heavenly" is an adjective also meaning "sky-blue". That's the stripe color of the Uruguay Flag. It is also the Uruguayan sports team shirt color. So Arriba La Celeste is similar to hurray for the blue, or "Come on sky-blue" Encouraging the team and the country of Uruguay to win.

Another saying in Spanish, is similar to our, "When the cat's away the mice will play" but in Spanish, they "Dance!" "Cuando el gato va a sus devociones, bailan los ratones" The mice dance and the reason the cat is away is because he's off praying (being pious).

The next Spanish proverb, is very practical! "Antes que te cases, mira lo que haces." Before you get married, look at what you are doing." Our English equivalent is "Look before you leap" The Spanish one tells you "what" you are leaping into, marriage. In English, I guess, we just go around leaping in general!

I have no idea what this next Spanish proverb is about. "Depues de comer, ni un sobre escrito leer" "After eating, don't even read an envelope." My husband loves cooking and food so maybe just concentrating on the good things in life (like your meal) for awhile, giving them their moment is good advice. Problems will come soon enough (put off reading about them). That's my take on that saying but any Spanish speaking readers who have actually heard this one before by all means, clue me in.

Lastly, my all time new favorite Spanish saying, is suppose to stand in for "Beat it!" If you are being bothered, you can say, drum roll please, "¡Cómprate un calvo y péinalo!" Literally: 'Buy a bald man and comb his hair!"

I can see, it's going to be awhile before I, Hablo español!

PS. Wally, is too sad to post that Uruguay lost to the Netherlands today in the play-offs. It was a respectable loss. Uruguay came away with 2 goals, the Dutch having 3. It was a close match and the Uruguayos know we played well as a country. Still, Uruguay is among the worlds' top four!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Just In Case

Just in case you don't follow soccer (futbol), Uruguay, just clinched their entry into the semi-finals. Winning in penalty shots, after 2 overtimes, brought everyone to the edge of their seats. The country goes wild tonight. Fireworks, horn tooting and shouting can be heard, even in this little quiet community. Next Tuesday's match will decide whether we make the finals. Banks (and most businesses) adjusted their hours to allow time off during game time. Next week, the game is in the evening. I can't imagine anyone missing it.