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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!


TV said...

“Energy and persistence conquer all things.”
- Benjamin Franklin

Seems like you had ample of both!
In any case, it certainly paid off. :)

Contra Veta said...

Denise & Wally-
I thought I'd pile on. Long time reader (after discovering, I read all back posts!). I'm a fellow expat blogging from Uruguay (HereinUruguay - among others) and I check in from time to time.
Always a pleasure to read. Keep up the good work it is appreciated.

Denise said...

Dear Jim (a.k.a. Contra Veta),
I now realize you're the one opening up a coffee shop with your wife in MVD, congrats on that endeavor!

Thank you for mentioning me and Wally in your blog. I'm glad reading our blog and story helped in your obtaining a Uruguayan driver's license.

You have a very interesting blog because your life is so different from ours. Being a family man rather than retired and living in the "Big city" MVD were as we live in a little beach town (balneario). I enjoy learning about life from many points of views and very much enjoy other expat's blogs. So ditto the kudos right back to you!