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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

As Good As It Gets

Well, the cabinets have finally arrived. After almost a year and a half, the job is finished. And as expected, it is rather anticlimactic. It just looks and works like a kitchen ought to. The quality, is OK - not great. However, there is much to be said for it being done, at all. Angles not square, scratches and dents in some of the finishes, miters not flush.... the list goes on and on. But- it is done.

"Es lo que hay" is a common phrase in Uruguay- "That's the way it is..." and it was never truer. Still, and I hope that I make it clear, I am not complaining. The old me (the one who expected things to be done right and on time) would be tearing his hair out (yes I know it probably looks like I already did that). But the new me, who is retired and not all that concerned about things, is satisfied.

We were pleased to be able to find an "artsy" glass for the inset on one of our cabinets. It matches the pattern in the glass block set on each side of the stove. I spent last night and this morning unloading the last of the boxes that have been lying around waiting for space. I think I can safely say that we have a comfortable kitchen, and utilitarian. And despite minor imperfections here and there, the warm wood colors and dark granite tops more than make up for the wait.

This week we will receive the granite top for the bar and except for some minor touches (tile backsplash over the sink and behind the stove), we will be completely finished in the kitchen and moving on to our vegetable garden.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Vaudeville Uruguay

We were invited to attend a night of entertainment Sunday evening. I was still feeling a little under the weather, so I sent Denise on without me. The fusca isn't working well, so we couldn't use it anyway, but the little community center, Club Albatros, where the event was to be held was only a short walk into Salinas. The invitation said the evening would be unforgettable and that proved to be true.

Not knowing what to expect, she was pleasantly surprised that the community center was nicely laid out. It has a basketball court and a complete stage. At about 6 in the evening, they presented an hour long program, that reminded her of "Almost Live", a local skit-based show in Seattle, modeled off of Saturday Night Live. After the show, they moved the chairs to the wall and danced the night away.

A group of youngsters spinning about the stage to a lively song, drew attention to the stage. The program really started with an announcer introducing the scene and then the curtain opened on someone sleeping, a rooster wakes him up and finally the radio began it's 4 daily programs. Each one of the programs had a different format. A lot of writing and acting went into this little production, and it was amazing to see how well they pulled it off. It was quite like a little vaudeville show with sight gags and things being thrown around the stage at will. It is Uruguayans making fun of themselves, attitudes and local customs.

WARNING   The videos that we are posting were taken with a little still camera in video mode. The
quality is limited, not the best sound and when the camera zoomed, the sound dropped out. Normally I would edit these down to a single clip, but really the 4 full clips (about 13 minutes each) were just too good to miss. If you don't speak Spanish, it will not be very interesting. If you do, it will still be hard to understand. But it is truly classic. When Denise played these for me, I just loved them. I hope you look at a few minutes of the show.

Scene One- Wakeup to the Morning Show

Scene Two- The Music Show

Scene Three- The Interview Show

Scene Four- The Inspirational Show

Friday, October 22, 2010

Flying Pigs

Well, you had better be on the lookout for flying pigs during the next week. I say this because we had a visit from the cabinetmaker who started the kitchen job a year and 3 months ago. We have been waiting for the balance of the cabinets for all that time. And faithfully, he has been promising to finish the job, each time we called.

He actually came by the house and told us that the cabinets are finished and they will be installed. And I am sure that it will happen. Do you know why? Because he said he will be over on Monday. For the past year, he has been assuring us that the cabinets will be installed on Saturday. Each week, when we called, he said he would be over that Saturday. At least a dozen times or more, he has told us that the job will be finished on Saturday. Never once has he mentioned Monday. So, unless Monday is the new Saturday- we will have a finished kitchen some time next week. Look out for flying pigs.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Making Headway

We finally made a little headway on our kitchen project. No, don't get excited. The upper cabinets have not yet been installed. After a year and 3 months, we are beginning (?) to wonder. We have given our old cabinetmaker, who did a wonderful job, this next weekend to finish the job, or we will get them from another carpintero.

But we did have a bar made and it was installed today. We will have a granite top, ordered from our local marmoleria, we have always been satisfied with their work (they come to your home and measure).  The quality of this new bar is err "acceptable" and the price is well, too high (the job cost $800 US), but it is finished and installed all within 14 days! So you gotta love that. And after everything is said and done, having anything completed is almost a miracle.

The weather is really starting to turn deliciously warm, during the days. We can now sit out on the front patio and read or study, while the newly installed fountain bubbles away. Life is good!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

In Search of a Taco

Piriápolis is hosting a formula 3 racing event this weekend. Drivers from all over South America will contend. So we decided to take Saturday and head up to Piri for the race. Of course, the main reason we decided to go was that we were informed that tacos, taquitos and corn tortillas would be available there. A new company, Punta-Mexifoods, is using a small corner restaurant to serve the Mexican food we so dearly crave. We were "facebooked" about the event and headed up to Piri for the race and tacos. In a totally unrelated matter, we had just been contacted by a young couple whose efforts to immigrate and start a business have been met with much resistance, to the point that Paolo (originally from Italy) and Gianna (originally from California) intend to sell their household goods and take the first plane out of Uruguay. It just goes to show you that Uruguay is not for everyone. But they were very discouraged with the country, so we thought that inviting them along might lift their spirits a little.

Turns out the race was actually Sunday. What we saw were the qualifying races. Well, be that as it may, it was quite exciting, noisy and there were lots of people looking on. For all I knew or cared, it could have been the race, itself. We were satisfied.

The qualifiers started with formula 3's and second and third groups raced later, with smaller cars. The town was completely prepared with the course laid out on the streets around the town. Police lines were up, Two big hills of sand were dumped into the middle of the street at the turns (in case somebody didn't make the turn and had to continue straight ahead) and there were concrete and metal barricades set up on the sides of the entire course, since the track runs along the rambla and into residential areas. There were officials at all the important points and at about 3 in the afternoon, they started their engines and after a few test laps, set off to qualify. While I am sure the actual race will be more intense, the noise and speed of the qualifying laps was good enough for me.

I got a little video of the race and at the end I have included the one VW Bug that raced in the street class. He looked pretty good. If you listen very carefully to Denise's introduction (it is hard because of the background sounds), you will find out why Uruguay's population remains at about 3 million.

We wandered around and finally found the restaurant advertising the Mexican food. Going inside we were greeted by Moises (originally from Mexico), Simon (originally from England) and Simon's wife, Silvana (originally from Uruguay). So, a Mexican and Englishman and a Uruguayan walk into a bar..... No, that's another story. But we sat down and enjoyed our meal with authentic hot sauce (you don't get that in Uruguay) and a margarita- Olé! The tacos and taquitos had shredded beef (which Denise loved), not hamburger. It was superb. They are planning on opening again during the high season, so beginning on December 15th, we may be making more trips to Piriápolis.

While sitting there, another customer came in (actually she was a good friend of Silvana's) who happened to be a reader of this blog. Michelle, originally from California (like us) has been living in Uruguay for almost 1 1/2 years. So we had 4 Californians, 1 Italian, a Mexican, an Englishman and one Uruguayan. Now I'd like to see you make a joke out of that.

Since it was nearing sundown and all of the qualifying races were over, we headed back to the car and then home. Our little visit has not persuaded Paolo or Gianni to stay in Uruguay. They will be leaving. But for us, this was just one more reason to enjoy our new country.