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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Two Pesos

I reached into my pocket today, to pay for something and found a brand new coin- 2011. In the few years I have been here, I have never seen a new coin minted. So when I pulled the brand new, shiny 2 peso coin from my pocket, I was intrigued.

As I turned it over, I noticed that the coin featured an engraving of a carpincho. Before moving here, I had no idea what a carpincho was, nor would I have recognized it, but last year I attended a party, where it was cooked on the parrilla and served, and it was delicious. I just found it interesting that the new coin features a rodent (very large indeed) and I am wondering what other new coins I will find and what images they will bear. I actually can't remember all of the U.S. coins, but I am pretty sure they don't picture any rodents, so Uruguay stands alone in it's choice.

Monday, February 21, 2011

An Artist's Quote

Last night, I unpacked another box of stuff. We are still finding little caches of shipped items from our original move here. I guess after almost 3 years of living here in Uruguay I should be done with settling in but no.

 Anyone who has ever lived with a long term remodeling project knows how disruptive it can be. Most of you blog readers know that we have only recently finished our kitchen. So I remembered a box of kitchen decorations I had left packed could now be opened and displayed. Wally was a dear and surprisingly was very prompt in helping to install them. Here's the finished display.

 Now, all of this is pretty boring stuff. The reason, I am mentioning it is because of something else I found in that box besides the dish decoration. It was an artist's quote that I had saved and was now rereading after many years.

The quote, "Each morning when I awake, I experience again a supreme pleasure- that of being Salvador Dali."

I couldn't help but laugh. Finding that note, was like a gentle way of, reaching out to myself, reminding me (with that quote) that I should feel just like that. Not, in wanting to be that surrealism painter, Salvador Dali (his melting clock image may come to your mind). Rather, that quote should spur me on to awake each morning- pleased to be me. Salvador Dali also said, "Have no fear of perfection- you'll never achieve it." I know that, I am not perfect, never wearing that term "Perfectionist" I'm also not an artist but I do love design and seeing the beauty in the ordinary, in the life that surrounds me. (I also love animals and kitsch, the 50's).

So, early in the morning with the Dali saying on my mind, I took the dogs to the beach before the vacation crowd woke up and filled it. I saw evidence of other creative beings who had been there (at the beach) before me. The tree branch sand castle caught my eye. (Shown at the start of this post).

Next, standing on the beach, I looked back at my house and saw the beauty that was Uruguay and our place in it. I experienced again a supreme pleasure seeing our house nestled into the landscape. In lieu of painting a portrait I did what I could and took a photo instead.

Some wild "morning glories" a fitting flower name for this day, were included in my photo shoot.

Finally, the pride of Uruguay, it's coastline just had to be included. The sun, sand dunes, fauna and water could not help but make me think that "Each morning that I awake (I should) experience again a supreme pleasure- that of being me, Denise Glass.
Today, I did just that!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

We're Going Bananas

This is the first year that our little banana tree has produced any fruit. The trees have been in about 2 years, now. Of course, we have been informed that the trees will probably not produce much in the way of edible fruit. The bananas will be very small and little "meat". Still, watching the progress of their growth is very interesting. I have eaten bananas for years, but never actually saw a single one grow.

The tree starts producing a central stalk and a large purple bud is produced. Little by little, each of the "leaves" of the bud is shed and a "hand" (group of bananas) is revealed. A new hand may appear each day. You can see how rapidly the growth occurs.

After several fruitfull "hands", the stalk will produce some infertile groups and the stalk can then be cut off. Whether or not anything is edible, it has been most instructive to watch. I wonder just how many other foods I have eaten, whose source is a mystery. Just goes to show how far most of us are from the actual food chain.....

Monday, February 14, 2011

Preparing for Winter

Well, we got our first load of wood, in preparation for the coming winter. We don't plan to use our stove for a couple of months, but buying wood early saves quite a bit of money. This year, I was able to buy a metric ton (1,000 k's) for 1800 pesos. This is beautiful red cedar, nicely dried and split. Last year, towards the end of winter, I had to buy less quality for almost 30% more. I will buy another ton on Wednesday and our wood storage area (which will hold 2 tons) will be filled to capacity. We will probably use 4-5 tons this winter. However, since we will be burning a better wood, I hope that I can plan more economical fires.

The days are still nice and warm. The nights are cool and sometimes it is a touch chilly in the morning. But you can still go outside in shorts most of the days. This is a beautiful time of year when it is beginning to cool, but still warm and sunny. This morning, however, I got my first mosquito bites. We haven't had any mosquitoes, this year (to speak of), but I remember that February of last year was the killer season for mosquitoes, so I am expecting them to get worse this month. They will be most active in the morning and early evening, but from here on out, we will enter combat mode. In combat mode, we let the dogs in and out through the laundry room, securing the area with Raid, before letting them into the rest of the house. Also, we enter and exit quickly and make daily sweeps to keep the house free of mosquitoes. Still, there is only so much you can do, and despite how annoying mosquito bites can be, they subside within an hour or so. They are a minor annoyance, when compared to the beauty that surrounds us.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Voice of Marindia!

It's a sad day for the town of Marindia.

I fear the voice of Marindia will be silenced!  The restaurant Hosteria Marindia has shut down!

Many of our blog readers might recognize this restaurant from several other earlier posts of ours. If so, then you will know this was no ordinary local eating establishment. The Hosteria Marindia was also the outspoken social minded voice of Marindia.

It was the site for many a town meeting to discuss various Issues having to do with our town. The restaurant maintained a list of people (Wally and I were on that list) they would then inform those people of problems or triumphs involving our community.Their facebook site is called Balneario Marindia 

Despite being foreigners, Wally and I were surprisingly welcomed into the community. We were informed of park cleanup efforts and told of new streetlights installed on the main avenue (Avenida del mar). Always included,we were face booked often, our names tagged invisibly onto park banners and as birds in other photos. We knew when the wild flowers (flores silvestres) were in bloom along the town's streets. And we were invited to be involved with anything and everything pro-Marindia.

All of this came about because of Zulay!

Zulay is a beautiful, warmhearted woman. She speaks English and was a much needed friendly face and ear in my first year living here. In Uruguay, she taught me my first Spanish word, Temprano, it means early.

For almost 6 straight months, I ate everyday in her restaurant. Our house was under repairs and our kitchen was nonexistent. Normally the restaurant would have been open only in the summer season. She is from Montevideo. I always wonder where the workers go to in winter, when they leave the Uruguayan towns half empty and closed up, but I digress. That first year (of my arrival), she and her family had decided to try and stay open all year. They even offered daily specials! on Thursdays they had a fried fish plate. The eatery was only, up the street and a block over from my house. It was an enjoyable walk.

The daily excursion gave me a chance to get out of the dusty work zone called my house and enjoy a solitary moment to myself. Wally stayed back at the house. Temprano was important because I still had to get used to Uruguayan business hours and the use of 24 hour military time. Restaurants all close down for Siesta with the rest of the country. I guess no one eats 'cause they are all asleep. I was always arriving either too late, Tarde (I knew that word before) or I was too early, Temprano (the word Zulay taught me)

The restaurants hours were    9 a 15,    Y   17 a 20. You do the math! 
For awhile the establishment even had a small Mom & Pop store, called in South America, AlmacĂ©n or Grocery store, in English. It was only opened in the mornings if memory serves. As I mentioned, I was always arriving just off schedule but they sometimes squeezed me in.                                                                                                                                                                                    
I enjoyed my break from Wally, being reminded that I was capable enough to face a new country by myself, having to meet people and speak to them in this new foreign tongue I was learning called Spanish. I would order a glass of house wine, Vino tinto (red wine) and sit at an old wooden picnic table the restaurant had placed outside under the trees. I am sorry that I never took a picture of that. I often thought about bringing my camera. The experience of the sunlight filtering through the tree's leaves, me drinking wine on the lawn while waiting for my order to be cooked and bundled for the short walk home, will always be with me. Trying to explain to the family what I wanted when Zulay wasn't there was also a good lesson for me.  Zulay's mother didn't speak a word of English but she  could always figure out what I was trying to say, needed or wanted and what my concerns were. She would then explain to the menfolk in Spanish what I was trying to say in Spanish! It must be a gift bestowed on Mothers to be able to understand the helpless. Like babies who haven't master language yet.

The Hosteria Marindia was also where the towns folk would go for the yearly La noche de la Nostalgia (Night of Nostalgia) Bash! We went to the all night, music, dance, drink and food party and I believe the whole neighborhood was there too. Reservations required!

The Hosteria was able to do all of that, not just because it had a large recreational room besides the quaint dining room (though, that helped the town meet in and large gatherings to be held) but because Zulay really cared about being involved with making the town of Marindia the best place it could be. She was the best part of a neighborhood business, leading the forefront in keeping us connected, a community of people. Alas, the building's owners had some troubles. Next, Zulay had some personal family troubles occur and now the original land lords have put the property up for sale. In life, there is often trouble but for a while Zulay, her family and the restaurant Hosteria Marindia were part of the solution.

We will miss your voice, truly!