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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Montevideo On The Cheap!

Montevideo is only an hour away from us by a city bus ride costing 35 pesos each. Wally hates driving in that city's traffic so we bus it instead. Still, these days we tend not to go into that town unless business  or paperwork calls on us to do so. I guess basically we are either too lazy or just too comfortable in our little beach community to want to go into the "big city" unless we have to. Well, paperwork called and we had to go. Next month, I'll post about renewing our cedula. It's been 3 years since we have moved here to Uruguay and it's time to renew our residency for another 3 years. So, I'll post on that when the process has been completed.

Since we had to go into Montevideo anyway I wanted to make the best of it. After completing some paperwork I dragged Wally around the city trying out my new camera that he brought back from the States as a gift. I had done a post last year on a friend's Quincho house and I liked the "Cannon SureShot" camera that Wayne (the house's owner) had so much, that I  mentioned it to Wally over the telephone (using Skype). I don't get that excited over stuff so he knew I really wanted one by my tone.

People often say that the Capital city of Montevideo has a slight European quality and amidst the elegant decay that is somewhat true. You won't find Southwest style adobe huts for instance.

I am a visual type of person so with my new camera in hand I looked around Montevideo yesterday with a  "new" photographer's eye. I love architecture so the above photo of an ornate building was a given, that photo was a definite subject to take. Still, I'm a bit quirky, so I looked round for some off the wall or more unusual subject themes to shoot. How about an old cannon embedded on a street corner?

I found this young construction worker interesting. I probably noticed him because I was also hungry. It was lunch time and I started to smell the aroma of the construction worker's lunch being cooked. This being "the land of meat", no ordinary brown bag sack lunch would do for these workers but rather a full-on lunch time Asado/BBQ was being prepared in the street (see the meat, chicken and chorizos and etc.. piled on the BBQ drum on the right?). When the workers saw I was taking this young man's photo they surprised him by dumping cold water (as a joke) down on him from above. Since I was with my husband at the time, I thought it best not to take too many photos of him peeling off his skirt! Remind me, to try coming into the city by myself, next time (smile). 

The sidewalks are treacherous in Montevideo, broken and uneven from the passage of time and lack of repair. Even the relatively larger granite slab sections are dipping down from each other. You could easily break a leg or at least trip and fall flat out on the ground (Medir el suelo). Unlike in the USA if you were to fall, there is no "suing" the city. Here in this country, they feel if you are too stupid to watch your step, then that is your fault, not theirs! So keeping one eye on the ground for safety sake lead me to this interesting discovery.

On several different streets, I saw these little personal attempts or statements (?) at repairing the sidewalks. I don't know what they mean but a little mosaic tile square can be found in almost every neighborhood block. That would be an interesting scavenger hunt, photographing and finding the various tiles!

Since Wally and I are not only retired but rather poor, I try and find Cheap or preferably free things to do when we go out. Montevideo has many things to see and do that won't put a strain on your finances.

I plan to occasionally mention such things to see and do in some future posts. So here's a preview to my "On the Cheap" info.

The plaza Fabini, is a beautiful plaza with an intricate fountain featuring horses and people. The plaza is located in downtown Montevideo between the streets of the 18th of Julio and Colonia.
Usually it is filled with book sellers and people eating outside under umbrellas set out by the restaurant located there. Park benches and nice music played on large speakers can be enjoyed. The park is surrounded by some beautiful buildings that make for some nice photos.

Besides just being a lovely park to hangout in, it also has an underground artist gallery.
"The Subte" meaning underground, isn't a subway station but instead features an ever changing artist exposition. It's free! Just go down the stairs located in the park. There is also a bathroom downstairs in the gallery, that's always an important fact to know and it's free to use as well.

Here is what the entrance looks like and a picture of Wally going down the stairs.

This month's exhibit was a mix of photos, drawings and the featured expo was of several short films projected on the wall. The subject material was, of course, odd and artsy. All films played continuously and simultaneously so you could walk around the room and sit in front of what you wanted to see.

 One film was a slightly disturbing one, featuring a blind man carrying around a woman with no legs. She directed him and he walked the city streets carrying her. That was the whole film, showing him carrying her and wandering around. Only a few times did he brush up against any walls so they made a good team. Wally and I watched the film for quite some time waiting for them to reach some kind of destination or for a point to be made but they never did arrive anywhere. We finally got up and went to another film. We talked about the first film and our conclusion was that it showed the endlessness of their situation. Although, I must admit , I tend not to be overly emotional and so I couldn't help but question why she just didn't get a wheel chair and him a cane or guide dog and hang out together that way! Still the film made you discuss why it was made!

The next short was called, "The Great North" and showed several non-smiling women working in an Ice factory in a snow bound place. They didn't talk  either but just turned some large wooden handles and mills extracting cylinder shaped ice. There was also a "live feed" of a blue wall and window somewhere in the city and sometimes a car would drive by the window or people would peek out of it. I caught an old lady looking through it but missed taking a picture of 2 kids peeking out. So they were living art.

In a back room were some photos of trees that have become part of buildings and walls. This is either because the buildings have been built around them or they have grown through and been kept as is.

These photos have inspired me to be on the lookout for other such incidents of "tree impactions" that I might come across in the future. So, on leaving the art gallery, I took a picture of a tree breaking up the sidewalk.You can see it in the third picture above. I know it's kind of lame, but maybe, it's a start to me joining such an exposition one day. Maybe, I'll try and find more mosaic tiles embedded in the walkways and have an expo called the sidewalks of MVD!


TV said...

I like your photos! You are getting a good eye. Maybe the new camera helps a bit, but I think you had it in you from the start.
Montevideo is an interesting place for sure!

Anonymous said...

Hello Denise,
The city looks very beautiful and clean. It seems that in Montevideo you have the convenience of modern life combined with an interesting architecture and a relatively vibrant lifestyle… all this not far from beautiful beaches and peaceful places.
I do like this kind of places!

Aurora said...

Dear Denise, I follow your blog since I discovered. I find very interesting to see another points of view and impressions of my country.
Here you have the explanation about those mosaic that can be found in almost every block of the old city:
(it´s in spanish by the way)
It´s very interesting, I hope you enjoy it.

Denise said...

Dear Aurora,
Thanks so much for the article explaining those tiles!!!
I found and photographed 3 of them and yes they were all in Old Town (ciudad Viejo) apparently there are a total of 50 tiles to be found scattered around old town. The article mentioned that one man an artist into many different types of things has made a self project of putting them down at night. One day he wants to write little histories about various neighborhood streets. He hopes for hundreds of tiles one day but has done just the 50 after coming back from NYC to Montevideo 5 years ago. So it indeed was worth while my looking around for things to photograph as I learned an interesting tale.

Thank you for reading this blog and helping to add to it!!!

Aurora said...

you're welcome!

PRACTIC said...

Great, pictures, great story, great work in here, GREAT BLOG, with all respect Robert from Romania !!!