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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wandering and Wood!

Okay, so I read the address wrong! That's how I came to be wandering around in the middle of nowhere in search of a wood yard that sells firewood. At least I took pictures!

As most people who read this blog can see, I'm not afraid to admit my faults and foolish foibles, like the time I fell flat on my face while walking and talking!

One of my failings is that, although, Wally and I own a VW bug, I haven't driven it, despite my having a Uruguayan driver's license. The reason for that is #1. I haven't driven a stick-shift in well over 30 years.
#2. We have a very steep driveway that I would have to (nervously) backdown and #3. That driveway has two deep ditches (open culverts) along either side of the street that the city put in for rain water flow a few years ago. So, I either walk to where I want to go or I take the city bus. Wally says, he was meaning to make me practice driving before he left but never got around to it. It's on the top of his agenda when he returns. As a teenager, the one time I was shown how to drive a stick-shift was on a VW BUG! So somewhere in the back of my mind the knowledge is there.

Well, after my last, fire wood order that resulted in some wood too heavy and large to really use in my wood stove, I put out some feelers and found the address of another wood yard. Actually, an expat reader of this blog named Graham emailed me an ad. While the ad had a phone number on it that I could have called, I didn't want another disappointing order sent. I became convinced that if I could show up at the yard in person with a sample piece of the wood size that I wanted, my face to face Spanish versus my non-existant phone Spanish would prevail.

So I tucked a piece of firewood into a tote bag and took off. Then I remembered that our car was still in the middle of our driveway and that would prevent a truckload of wood from delivering it's load to my backyard, where the wood storage is. So I would have to backup the VW Bug down my driveway after all or lamely wait until some friends came home from work to do it for me, how pathetic! Hey! 3 decades plus ago, I did this, so no, I wouldn't wait! I found the keys. At least, the diagram on where reverse was located was still to be seen on the stick-shift nob. I then put in the key and turned it over or tried to, the battery was dead! No problem I thought, Wally has a charger somewhere, now where is the battery located in a VW bug? I know that the engine is located in the rear, Nope, no battery there! Okay, I'll try the front hood trunk area, Nope. Oh yes, I remember, Wally complaining that the battery is inside the car under the back seat. So I figured out how to lift the seat up and Voila! Yes, there's a battery under there waiting to be charged. I once went to a "How to" weekend class for women, on basic car repair. So I knew that the plus symbol goes to the plus side and the negative to the negative etc..., well, you get it. Nothing seemed to light up or indicate that the charger was working but I waited for a while nevertheless. Then I ripped everything off in frustration and tried the car one more time. It awoke! By now the day was fast fading away so my being pissed helped me overcome any in-trepidation and I slowly backed the car down my driveway and parked the car at the side of the driveway on the lawn. Yeah! Now off to buy wood!

The address was in the town of Atlántida (only 5 kilometers away) The ad said: Pinares street (calle) and 52mts. I had a partial map of that town and knew Pinares was on the other side of Atlántida somewhere. So although, now late into the day after the car incident, I took off again, with my wood in tote. I tried to get a window seat on the bus but those were taken, so peering past a sleeping woman (who obviously didn't need the window) I tried to keep a lookout for the street. The problem was, that 52mts, mentioned in the address. I knew that Atlántida was at the 45 kilometers mark on the highway and it is one of our bigger towns, a small city, so I wrongly thought that 52mts; might mean, 52 Kms. Yes! Now I know the difference! Live and learn. I thought I saw several places starting to use the name Pinares in their store's title so I quickly asked, the now awaking woman, if I was near the street or was it further up? That was my mistake, not trusting my first impulse. For some reason, she thought it was further up which lead me to start looking for the 52 mark on the highway. When I saw the 52 Km. mark, I got off the bus at a gas station a little further away. They kindly explained the difference to me of 52 meters versus 52 Kilometers. I was now 8 kilometers from where I wanted to be! I now know, that the 52 kilometer mark is 4 towns past Atlántida or near La Floresta!

I found a bus stop and still carrying my wood, I waited for a return bus, determined to find the wood yard. I waited and I waited and I waited at that bus stop until I found out that the local city buses don't stop there, only direct route to Montevideo buses do (a kindly bus driver told me that when I flagged him down). I would have to walk into the town of La Floresta and find a bus stop there or since it was such a lovely day walk in the direction back towards Atlántida until I found the stop where the city buses stop. The problem was, I was standing on a stretch of highway that the city buses by pass, in favor of entering some of the back roads and driving along them instead to service the town's streets.

If I was going to have to walk anyway, I wanted to be walking in the direct of my goal, Atlántida and not La Floresta which was farther away. So I started off, walking back down the main highway. Which is how I came to be crossing the Solís Chico river and get these lovely photos of it. Notice the Kilometer mark of the location of this river.

I walked for 3 kilometers along that highway. Finally, I saw a city bus stop! There was a little torta frita stand nearby, so I order one (10 pesos) and ate and waited. After wandering around for some 3 hours (and still no wood purchase) I grabbed the first bus I saw, oops! I shouldn't have, this one left the highway to service the towns again, by passing the street Pinares, my goal, remember? However, I did see a store on that back city road with the title Pinares in it. So this time, I jumped off the bus and walked along that road toward the direction of the highway again. By now, it was dark and I found out, I was near an expat's home, so I went there instead for a little bathroom break and advise. We called the wood place, They were now closed! Doug drove me home! That was my Monday!

Tuesday, I woke up to an empty driveway, a wood sample in my bag and a new found knowledge of where I was going. Finally, I had arrived! I took a picture of the wood yard, ordered up my wood. It was only $2500 (pesos) per ton with delivery, instead of the previous $2800 pesos I paid that other company. The wood is now a proper size for my wood stove.

Two guys named Eduardo successfully delivered and stacked it for me. I now have my last order of fire wood in, for this soon to be finished winter season. Yeah! What a difference a day makes! That's why I can call this title wandering and wood!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Meeting A Fan!

It's always nice to know that you are appreciated and that your voice matters!

In writing this blog, I churn out post after post on subjects that range from travel to trivia as it relates to Uruguay and us living here. I'm often amazed that there are people out there in cyberland that actually do read and follow along with our blog. I know this because some of them leave me comments. Some comments are kindly corrections to my perceived understanding of this country and it's language. Other people comment to ask me a few questions about living here. Still, other people's comments contain a hello and a pat on the back with an appreciating sentiment like "Wonderful blog" or "I enjoy reading your blog!" So you can imagine my joy when I get the rare opportunity to meet a fan in person!

This happened just a few days ago when I got to meet Horacio and his lovely family here in Uruguay.

Horacio is a warmhearted individual who puts you at ease the moment you meet him. His wife, Alejandra  has a bubbly fun personality and immediately welcomed me into their home. I liked her a lot! Their teenage son Rodrigo is well spoken and speaks fluent English. In addition to having winning personalities this family also has some interesting stories to tell.

Horacio started to read our blog because he wanted to move here with his family. He googled Uruguay and various subjects, like retirement here and our blog's name, "Retired in Uruguay" popped up. The interesting thing is that although he began reading about us from all the way back in New Orleans, USA, He is a native Uruguayan. His wife is Argentine.

The family was very interesting to talk to because of their exposure to both Uruguayan culture and expat. For instance, because of their having lived in New Orleans and Atlanta, Georgia, the first thing I noticed when I went to dinner at their house was their big bottle of "Crystal's" hot pepper sauce, which they used on their meal generously! Because I didn't want to go out in the rain the night before, I missed Alejandra's Jambalaya. I will definitely want a rain check on that dinner! For those of you who are wondering what Jambalaya is, it is a dish from New Orleans, it has seafood and other meats in it. Click on the above link for a photo and a recipe site.

His wife being from Argentina, where the family also lived for about 11 years used to tell him that he (hence all people from Uruguay) spoke with a slight accent, which of course, he denied. Now returning to his homeland after so many years living away from it and having spent that time listening to his wife's pattern of speech, he now laughs, and says that the first thing he noticed upon coming home was an accent! Yes, he says, "we do speak with an accent I can hear it clearly now!"

Horacio is fortunate enough, to be able to work from home via the internet. His has worked a long time with a company that has allowed him to work in the USA and to get his Masters Degree there.

One of the most amazing accounts of their stay in the USA happened around the time he was getting his degree. He had gone to New Orleans to attend the University there. As luck would have it, on the very day he was to start his admissions process, "Hurricane Katrina" struck! He and his family (wife Alejandra and son Rodrigo) were one of the many families that had to be air lifted out of the area! They actually had flood waters around them and had to be rescued by helicopter from a roof top! (similar to the photo at this link)  They remember holding onto the life line and being hauled into the air with swirling waters all around them!

As a consequence of the disaster Katrina brought to the area he had to switch Universities and attend the one in Atlanta, Georgia. So that's why he has also lived in Atlanta, Georgia.

His family does appreciate the lack of natural disasters here in Uruguay!

The family is quickly settling into their new home and neighborhood. They have already added 2 future guard dogs/ new puppies to the household. One is a beautiful chocolate lab and the second is a Cimarrón which is a unique breed known to Uruguay. It's classed as a guard dog. The pelt has the coloring of tortoise shell, a mix of brown and black striped markings.

Horacio was so very kind as to include in his container of goods something for my cat Nathan, a scratcher. Now that my cat Nathan is an inside only cat, my 2 armchairs were in danger of being ripped to shreds. I keep a cover on them but he finds exposed places to scratch, I have a tree branch in my living room and a carpet hung on my wall for him but he doesn't use them. I read some good reviews on this little wave shaped floor scratcher and Horacio said he could bring it. I would finally meet him and his family face to face and have dinner with them when he moved back to Uruguay.

The very night that I brought Horacio's gift back home, Nathan used it. He knew it was his, so I'm including those pictures of this appreciated present.

After a pleasant evening with this family, they walked me out under the beautiful stars and we talked, while waiting for my bus ride home. Despite being born and raised here in Uruguay, Horacio because of having been gone for such a long time from his homeland, appreciates my blog for it's small helpful insights. For instance, I mentioned to Alejandra (his wife) and he that since I had missed my #710 bus on the way to their house, the one that costs just 19 pesos to get there (I was Late), I had to take, the next one that came along, the #222. It however, costs 41 pesos to arrive at the same distance. So I warned them that different bus lines sometimes charged different prices.

I'm including an odd picture that I took on the bus ride home (sorry it's not too clear). I took the picture  because I still find some of the things that happen here in Uruguay rather amusing.

On the way to their house, my bus had a man standing in the aisle playing his guitar for money. So live entertainment on a city bus. On my ride home there wasn't anyone playing live music but the bus driver had the radio on while his custom installed speakers were flashing colors in time to the beat as some models do. In the photo the speakers are straight ahead, they are oval shaped and have black rims around them. Back in Seattle, I have several friends who worked as city bus drivers for the Transit Authority, so I couldn't help but think of them. I Imagine them driving around with their favorite music on and speakers playing or being serenaded by a guitarist! No, not possible, because they're not in Uruguay!

Well, I 'd like to say one last time how much I enjoyed meeting Horacio, his wife Alejandra and their son Rodrigo. From the start to the finish I had a most pleasant evening with them.

I had better go and post this now, because I know Horacio will want to read it, he's a fan you know!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Weather in August!

Let's talk about the weather here in Uruguay.

The promised August storm may or may not have come! I can't figure it out. We have had some fierce rains dropping bucketfuls in a matter of minutes. We have had thunderstorms which have caused my ritualistic running around to unplug everything. We even had hail a few days ago. However, we didn't have them back to back for a 3 day marathon that usually signifies a real "Saintly" Tormenta, a storm front.

Instead, we have had a mix of hot, up to 73 degree F. days down to 46 degree F. days all in one week's time frame. On August 14th at 6 in the morning it was 37 degrees F.

Someone recently thought that the weather might be an interesting topic so I'll give you the following forecast for this coming week. This is based from Montevideo the capital, up the coast where I live just add a little more wind with the prediction.

Tuesday, will be cloudy and rainy but the sun is suppose to peak out.

Hi: 58 °F
Lo: 53 °F
Hi: 56 °F
Lo: 51 °F
Hi: 59 °F
Lo: 49 °F
Hi: 53 °F
Lo: 45 °F
Hi: 49 °F
Lo: 43 °F
Hi: 48 °F
Lo: 43 °F
Hi: 50 °F
Lo: 43 °F
    Tuesday      Wednesday    Thursday       Friday           Saturday      
Hi: 48 °F
Lo: 43 °F

For the next 4 days it's suppose to rain or have a chance of rain (Tuesday-Friday). Tuesday night promises a thunderstorm. Saturday there will be sun with some small clouds (partly cloudy).  Sunday will live up to its name and be a purely sunny day with no clouds at all shown, Yet, it will also have the coldest day's temperature at 48 degrees F. It seems like, it should be the warmest day? Oh well! 

When I know that it's going to be a day with lightenings and thunders then I don't bother opening up the shutters. I don't want to get wet for a dark day. However, My house with all of its enormous windows is usually quite bright during the day and I don't need to turn on any lights. So I tend to miss the cheery atmosphere inside on dark days. 

I solved that problem last week during a thunderstorm by huddling up with my desk chair and a TV tray near my back window, the only one without a shutter (it has bars though). There the whole household gang congregated. I also pushed my little heater right up to us. I didn't want to start a full on wood stove fire because the day was oddly not cold just dreary. 

I stayed almost all day there at my make shift desk using the opportunity of staying indoors to try another attempt at figuring out the Spanish language and its many rules.

I was trying to tackle when to use the definite article "The", or in this case El, La, Los and Las (See Spanish has to have 4 the's!) and when not to use it. The dictionary started me out with a great sentence, "I like beer, but I don't like wine." (not true, I like both!) Well, in Spanish, you have to say "I like the beer but I don't like the wine. You have to use the definite article "the" with the beer and the wine because this implies you like all beer in general. In other words, nouns that are used to represent all of the thing need the definite article. The sentence would look like this in Spanish; "Me gusta la cerveza, pero no me gusta el vino."

Abstract nouns need the definite article since they represent the idea as a whole. Justice, would need "the" in front of it for La justicia.

Names of academic subjects like mathematics and physics need 'the" in front. Las matemáticas, la fisica. But not names of professions, occupations, religious or political convictions. "Mi padre es médico.", "Ella es Católica; él es comunista." (él with the accent mark means, "he" NOT "the"!)

Names of languages need 'the" in front of them for example;  el español, el francés, but not names of countries. They are considered proper nouns (like the name of a person). There are a few exceptions, of Course! Worth mentioning are; el Uruguay, la Argentina, el Brazil, la India ,el Japón, and el Peru. The names of these countries are preceded by the definite article.You are now allowed to say just United States, as it has come to be regarded as a proper noun in its own right. So you don't have to say Los Estados Unidos anymore (if you wish) but only Estados Unidos (Who knew?)

While you use the definite article with languages and academic subjects; Don't use "the" after the words hablar and estudiar (to speak and To study). For example; "Estudia matemáticas." "He is studying mathematics." and "¿Hablas español?" or "Do you speak Spanish?"

Another point regarding languages and academic subjects; Don't use "the" after the words en and de (in and of) for example; "El libro es escrito en español." or "The book is written in Spanish." 

The names of persons don't need "the" in front unless a person's name is proceeded by a title, like Mr. or General then it's; el señor Glass or el general Glass.

In general physical descriptions and body parts use "The" La cabeza (or the head) etc..

The list goes on and on. Then my lesson came around to beer again. This time I wasn't suppose to use the definite article "the" when expressing indefinite quanties. The sentence the dictionary gave me was; "no quiero vino, siempre bebo cerveza." or "I don't want (any) wine, I always drink beer." Okay, to me that seems a lot like, that first sentence about beer and wine that I started out with. So by now everything, was definitely looking indefinite. So I poured myself some wine and wondered when the thunderstorm would pass, so I could go to the store and buy beer. So much for my studying! At least, I was in my house, warm and cozy waiting out the rapidly changing weather here in Uruguay.

P.s. I didn't get this post out until Tuesday and yes, we had rain and fog today, now I'm just waiting for the promised thunderstorm tonight!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Being Thrifty!

 Thursday is feria day (farmers market day) for me and the nearby town of Salinas. We have the time slot from 8am to 12:30 pm to shop. Then this same group of vendors, they pack up and go to the city of Atlántida (5 kilometers away), reopening in that city for business from 3pm till evening, on this same thursday.

I've mentioned this farmer's market several times before in my blog because shopping at your local town's feria is a ritual, a way of life, here in Uruguay. Each town or city has their own special day, when the farmers and sellers roll into town and set up shop or in this case their stalls. 

If you miss your town's feria day, then you have to know what day a nearby town has their day on. For instance, the town of Parque del Plata has their's on friday, I believe.

Besides wanting fresh produce, people try and make it a habit to shop at a feria because the government allows them not to charge the same kind of tax as regular stores do. That's a big savings! Did I ever mention to you that our tax down here is called I.V.A. and it's 23%! I used to think that Washington State's tax was bad enough when they crept up from an 8 point something tax and went on into the 9 percent something tax rate on purchases.

While it's true that SOME THINGS are exempt from this I.V.A. tax most things are not!
Prices of items listed, generally have the I.V.A. already added to them. So you don't have to mentally go around and add 23% to everything you just know that, it's already in the price.

I used to think that milk and such basics were exempt but apparently not.

I'll give you an example from a short visit to a regular grocery store. I bought 3 bags of milk (yeah, bags not a carton or a jug) each tiny 1 liter bag of milk cost me 13 pesos each. Other brands with omega whatever s in them would cost more but I'm being thrifty so $13 (pesos) is what I spend per bag. So the 3 bags cost me a total of 39 pesos. Next, I went to the in-store butcher and bought two small Milaneses ( a breaded cutlet, I like the chicken one) for a reasonable $59 (pesos) total and I also bought 1/2 a kilo of hamburger (especial, a polite word meaning a cheaper quality) that cost me $68 (pesos) in total. Butter or manteca in Spanish just went up from $43 to $44 (pesos) for a large stick and finally, I bought some brussel sprouts that looked better in the store than at the feria and they were amazingly a little bit cheaper! The package of sprouts cost me $25 (pesos). At another store that same package was $42 pesos. It pays to shop around. So to recap, 5 items and all of it food. The bill went; $39+59+44+68+25= $235 (pesos) out of pocket. On that list of strictly food related items, nothing was exempt from the I.V.A tax. The bill showed me that the items were worth $191.09 and I paid $43.91 in tax (i.v.a.). For a total of $235 pesos.

Bottom line is that, if you don't have to pay 23% tax on something, why would you want to. I've bought dishwashing liquid at a feria for $30 (pesos) when I would have had to pay $38 at a regular grocery store. Ferias also have clothes and other non-edible items.

I've been really thrifty while Wally is away. I limit my weekly feria trip to $500 (pesos) a visit (per week). That includes the $112 pesos, I pay for a large bag of dry dog food (8 kg s.). Other known brands can cost 3 to 6 times that, but I'm being thrifty so an off named brand it has to be. If I miss my feria day than that same bag costs me $135 at a local store. I do buy a better brand for my cat (he eats less) but it costs me a whooping $101 to $107 pesos (for only a 1 Kg. bag) at a regular store.

 Some favorite items that I buy at the feria are; a little bag of dry parmesan cheese, 100grams for $11 pesos and pitted prunes at $13 pesos per 100grams. A can of whole sardines costs $27 pesos, 2 bars of soap, $27 pesos (you get a better price when you buy the two)! You get the drift. I spend roughly $125 pesos for vegetables and about $75 p's for what nots and $112 for the dog food, then with the rest of my money, I go to the regular store for a little meat and etc...  Wally could never be this regulated (read stingy) he loves to cook and eat well! Our normal budget is over 2 1/2 times that, per week. However, this current tightfisted budget of mine has allowed me to do some extra projects around my house and to pay for purchases like a dog house for Barney. Shila will soon get her own dog house.

I haven't minded my self-imposed budget, because of what I have been able to accomplished with the savings, around my house.

Recently, I learned an interesting lesson. I don't know if it's an interesting thing, a good thing or just a petty thing? If a person is on too tight a budget then you start to see money leaks everywhere.
 I have noticed however, that I also get angry when I feel, I've lost a peso or two, not the best quality.

The other day I wanted to treat myself to a Torta frita. It's like a fried tortilla or an elephant ear you would find at a country fair. Well, I noticed a man in Atlántida standing on a corner with his little cart so I went up to buy one. However, I also noticed that he was selling his fritas for $12 pesos and not the usual $10. Since I was already at his stand, I thought Okay, it's only 2 pesos more, so I ordered one. He then handed me one, already fried up, which meant it was cold and hence NOT crispy! So I paid 2 pesos more for an unpleasant taste treat. Being much more thrifty now, I have discovered that the best places to buy a HOT, fresh Torta frita, for only $10 pesos, is in front of a school. Go when the kids are being let out and you'll find a vendor selling to them at reasonable prices! I guess that was the interesting part of the lesson learned, where to find good tortas fritas!

Over a year ago Uruguay decommissioned their little silver 50 cent coin. Everything now is in dollar pesos. There are metal coins in addition to paper money but they are a $1 peso coin, a $5 peso coin and a $10 peso coin. What this means is that you can lose tiny amounts.

 As an example, I bought some more hamburger recently ( I asked for a 1/2 kilo, as usual) and the butcher put in a little extra, about $68.85 worth (i.v.a. included). When I went to pay for it, the store rounded it up to the nearest dollar or to $69 (pesos) despite the lower sticker price (because they don't have small coinage here only dollar pesos anymore! So, I should have had the butcher put in a pinch more hamburger for an even dollar amount, since I ended up paying for it anyway! I guess I have to stop thinking like a North American and not imagine that I lost 15 cents but instead remember the first Spanish phrase I ever learned here, "Es lo que hay." It is, what there is! or in other words, "It is, what it is" Another lesson learned!

I have a few more projects, I want to do around the house (like that second dog house for $1960 pesos). Things are not cheap here! However, I will soon buck up my budget so that I will not become a miserly person but just stay a thrifty one!

P.S. A Special "Thank You" to Syd and Gundy for dropping off (by my door) a primrose plant gift for my Wedding Anniversary. Sorry, that I missed seeing you!
When I inquired later about the plant, they said, they got it at the feria! Of course!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Mundane Things!

Well, It's been a while since my last blog and our readers are restless.

A friend from Washington State even wrote to give me suggestions on things to write about, in case I had writer's block.

Here is a copy of possible subjects that "D.C." from Washington suggested:

So, I'm thinking the new or old subjects I would like to hear about would be:
VW stories
Wood stove heating in detail. Tech details on stove etc. How often you 'stoke'.............
Utility expenses, power, propane, firewood, TV cable, Internet service, water,
    telephone and Cell phone, gasoline, sewer or septic.
Daily temperatures thru the years...possibly a chart.
Things you are planning to purchase in the future.
Fishing, crabbing.
Are CB radios ever used there ?
Are Ham radios popular ?
What does it cost you to send a letter to the US.
What does it cost you to make a 3 minute phone call to Seattle.
What is the difference in using a cell phone to call Seattle as opposed to land line.
Is Verizon to Verizon cell talk free as it is here ?
Where does your garbage company dispose of same ?
You have bars on your windows....explain.
Is a hot tub affordable using electricity to heat it with ?
Is alcoholism and drug use prevalent in the local society ?
What does a Best Western type motel cost in your area ?
Is prostitution a common thing in the local society ?
What would a nice VW bug cost American ?
What would the same year VW Westphalia cost ?
Ha Ha Doc, I bet you didn't think that I would take your advice so literarily but here it goes.

Using the above list as a reference, I'm going to tackle for this week's post some down to earth subjects or rather, some"Mundane" things, like the Utility expenses we pay, here in Uruguay. Bear in mind that the dollar exchange rate keeps lowering. This month (August) the exchange rate is $18.25 pesos per each USA dollar. So you can do the math.

The power company is UTE which stands for  Usinas y Trasmisiones Electricas. It is government owned so it's full title is the Administracion Nacional de etc...(see above). The power or electric bill varies month to month. The bill includes a little graph chart so you can tell what your usage was during the same month last year and the chart continues on up to the current month. I can see for instance that my highest usage is, not surprisingly, during the 3 months of our winter; July, August and September. Our wood stove has a fan that sends the heat throughout our house so since it's on almost 24 hours a day for those months it makes sense that those are the highest bills. We don't have an air conditioner for the summer months so winter is our only high season.

Some people are on plans so they choose initially when signing up, what time of day or night that they will be using the most electricity and then they have to stick to that same set time, month after month. If they go over the agreed amount they are charged or gigged a lot. Wally and I can't live with that kind of set choice or pressure so we just pay the standard fees. Under so many kilowatts your charged so much per watt, go over that and your then charged a higher rate for the over wattage only. It doesn't matter if I decide to reverse my schedule and party at midnight or two in the afternoon, the time of day doesn't matter only the amount of watts.

For instance,  4.82kwh= $186.47
                      100kwh = $274.35
                      179kwh= $710.09

Add that up, then add some more charges called, Cargo Flijo (fixed charge) of $114.12 then throw in some tax called I.V.A; say of $282.71 pesos and add it all up. The grand total on that bill was $1568 pesos (they round up or down to the nearest peso) or $85.92, USA dollars (at 18.25 pesos per dollar). That was for the month of march, slightly before Autumn. I'm in winter now, so it will be a bit higher this month. In most Latin American countries the cost of electricity is very high.

The water company is O.S.E. It stands for Obras Sanitarios del Estado (obras means "works" in Spanish). It too has a little water usage chart. Uruguay has clean and abundant water so the bill is much more reasonable. Depending on the month and possible home projects think around $250 - $350 pesos for water. Most people in the suburbs have well water available for gardening use and lawn irrigation. You don't have to go very deep to find water but if you do go deeper then that water is usually very potable. So the cost of city water can be decreased through well usage.

The telecommunications company is Antel. It stands for Administracion Nacional de Telecomunicaciones.You get two separate bills from them. One is for internet service and the other for your landline telephone. Mobile or cellar phone plans are through other companies. Internet is about $1000 pesos, the most expensive of the two bills. You pay more or less depending on the speed you opt for. Telephone is around $200 pesos depending on usage. They give you the dates and phone call duration times (of your calls) so you can monitor the bill. As a side note, when making phone calls, house to house calls or cell phone to cell phones calls are recommended, don't mix them up, it costs more when you do.

All of these utility bills can be paid in one place, at a neighborhood Abitab center, pictured in the above title photo.

I'll quickly run through a few more bills to answer our friends' curiosity. We used to get cable TV and paid about $50 (USA dollars) a month for it, without any of those speciality channels (although we could have ordered them and paid more). We dropped it, as we now use the computer for anything we want to watch.

Gas/propane tanks used for cooking and also for some small heaters are $373 pesos a refill. You have to first buy the tank yourself (on your own) somewhere. An empty tank can cost in the neighborhood of $2500 to $3000 pesos, then you buy the fill for $373. I remember buying a pretty gold tank, when they came to bring me my gas order fill, they took it away and gave me one of the companies' old blue tanks. They bring a pre-filled tank to you, so don't bother buying a good tank you'll never see it again anyway!

Firewood, I feel that I got "taken or gipped" on my last purchase of $2800 pesos per cord of wood, for Eucalyptus wood. An expat in Atlántida (a nearby town) has since given me an ad for firewood and a telephone number that I'm going to call and sometime this month I'll will try for it's price of $2400 pesos a cord. I will also request smaller pieces from them. I will probably go in person to see them as my telephone Spanish skills are not great.

We have a septic system it can run depending on the company you call anywhere from $600 pesos to $800 to empty. We have a very large one so about every 6 months we call for removal.

Gasoline, I don't know the exact price per gallon or Liter here in Uruguay because I've been walking everywhere. I guess, it's around $5.00 to $6.00 a gallon ,USA dollars.

Uruguay is NOT! an inexpensive or lower place to live like, let's say Mexico. It is simply a slower paced place to live, more restful.

Okay, I am now very depressed and bored with the mention of all of these "Gastos" or expenses and their rundowns.

 I'll show you some flower photos now to cheer us up. I used to have two huge Camilla trees back in Washington State and they would bloom in February. That is about the equivalent for this month of August, here in Uruguay. We have had a sudden spell of warm weather and so the early bloomers are blooming. My Daffodils are all up and some trees are blooming, yellow puffs, as well. Here are some photos of what's coming up around me in Uruguay.

I choose the yellow flower photos because they are so sunny and happy looking!

I might not be able to address everything on D.C's list but I will, in the future, keep some of the items in mind and try and mention them in a blog post or two. This way, any of you that are interested in the more mundane things occurring in Uruguay can get your fill.