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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ton o' Wood

We bought a literal ton of wood, today. We knew that we needed to supplement our vast stock of pine wood, so that we don't build up dangerous deposits in the chimney. So we found a source of eucalyptus firewood. It is the first time that we have ever purchased wood in any quantity.

First we had a small concrete floor and walls built to hold the wood. Of course, we had no idea at all how much wood was in a metric ton, but we had it built so it looked like we could store a substantial amount of wood. It turned out that the storage we had built was an exact match. Each side holds about 500 kilos (1/2 ton US), so the ton of wood fit exactly into the space. I am sure that the guy who delivered the wood and stacked it into our wood area thought we knew exactly what we were doing (he couldn't have been more wrong).

We shopped all over and Syd and Gundy (expats from Atlantida) helped us find the wood for 1900 pesos/metric ton (around $80). Could we have found it cheaper? Yes- but many were charging 1/3 to 1/2 again as much, so we were happy with what we found.

Now we can burn pine during the daytime, and burn a hotter and longer lasting fire at night- the perfect mix. Judging from the size of a metric ton- I would say we have about 2-3 tons of pine left, so we are set for the winter. Good thing, because temperatures are down into the upper 30's overnight for the next couple of days. But who cares when you have a nice warm fire going and wood to last the winter?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Well, we have found another reason to enjoy South America. Brazil makes a liquor that tastes a little like rum and a little like tequila- Cachaça. It is 39 proof, so a very respectable drink.

In fact, a "Caipirinha" is the national cocktail of Brazil. It is very simple:

1/2 lime
1 tbls sugar (they have a special dark sugar, but regular sugar is fine)
1 oz Cachaça
Crushed ice and enjoy

They also use Cachaça and muddle any available fruits and sugar to taste. The Caipirinha tastes a little like a South American Mai Tai. Enjoy! Did I forget to mention that Cachaça is about $6.00 for a 910 ml bottle (it appeals to my penny pinching side).

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Year One

Well, this will be a short post without pictures. Sorry- just not much more to post. But yesterday we did pass our first year mark in Uruguay. No fanfare, no fireworks. In fact, without a car and in cold weather, not even a trip out to a restaurant.

But we did reflect on the progress we have made here. Residency acquired, house purchased and almost all of our planned renovations completed. We are a few days away from having the house painted and all of our outdoor projects done. The next week will see significant progress on the kitchen.

All-in-all, as we sit in our warm house in our new little country- we are well satisfied with the choices we have made. We can hardly wait to see what happens in year two.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Lunch at Maria's

A few weeks ago we were introduced to one of our neighbors who had been a doctor in the US. She lived for some 20 years in Los Angeles (Denise's hometown) and now lives a block away. Her niece ran across my blog and determined that we must live near her aunt. Because I have been feeling a little under the weather, Denise had gone over for an introductory visit on Sunday and she invited us for lunch, today.

We thought it would be just a little take out meal or a sandwich. But when we arrived at "Maria Del Mar" we were pleasantly surprised that there was an asado in the making. Fortunately for us, her 2 dogs were locked up, since they have bitten people before and it is troublesome to have to make out the police reports. We will make sure that she knows we are coming in the future.

Some of Maria's friends were working on the parrilla and after some wine, cheese and salami, we were invited to sit down to a wonderful meal.

Maria is quite the world traveler and loves fishing, as well. She showed us a picture of a 40 lb bass that she caught in Brazil. She has children and grandchildren living all over the US and other countries.

Her house is quite artistic, with lots and lots of decorations, pictures from all over the world. Since she loves fishing- many of her sculptures (including iron fish on the lawn) are sea life. From her living room, where we had lunch, you could see the beach clearly. There was even a little fishing boat that was passing by on the way home. She recognized it as one of the boats that delivers fish to a shop on the Pando River. She says they have a great fish dinner- but that will be for another day.

So, stuffed with asado, we walked home, looking forward to our next visit.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Base Cabinets

Today, Saturday, the carpenter came and installed the base cabinets. Very solid installation and we finally get to see the type of kitchen we have envisioned. It is surprisingly spacious and we have designed in enough drawers to make this very practical.

Today Pedro installed the cabinets. On Tuesday, he will come back with either the drawers and doors or start on the upper cabinets (my Spanish is lacking some of the finer detail). Either way, this week will see some real progress.

The cabinets come without a bottom shelf. What happens is that the flooring guy pours concrete inside the kick plates, up to the level of the bottom shelf and installs tile for a finished look. The cabinet maker will call the local granite supplier and give him the measurements for the tops and we will be on our way.

I have put some old pieces shelving on top of the cabinet for the next few days so that we can get used to having some kind of kitchen. It looks like the work space is going to be ample and will have enough room for 2-3 people to work in the kitchen at the same time. Of course, since this is "my" kitchen- nobody will be working in it except me, but there is space, if I were to relax my rules and make an exception.


Friday, June 5, 2009

Beginning of The End

We have started using our wood burning stove almost every day. It is very easy to keep it going and since it is airtight (or as close as we can get here) we can keep the fire burning at the most efficient rate and economize on wood. At this point, we have the pine from the trees we had felled and as you can see there are several good piles that we have to use. Since it is pine, however, it will burn faster than a denser wood, so we probably will be looking for wood by the end of the winter.

We finally made a trip to Pachamama Vivero (one of the best nursery's around here) and bought several hundred dollars worth of plants to start adding to the front entry. We found banana trees, orange and lime and many other smaller plants. Pachamama's, however, specializes in food producing plants and we were looking mostly for decorative landscaping at this time. So the owner of Pachamama recommended a nearby vivero (only a few blocks away) that specialized in those type of plants. The owner was of German descent and his vivero was much larger than Pachamama's and included almost every variety you could imagine. The name of that vivero was Miosotys, and if you need any ornamentals- that is the place to go. Most of them are planted at this time and after just a few days, we are beginning to get used to seeing something in the yard besides concrete and dirt. Now we will see what survives the winter and heavy winds we get.

We has some lighting installed at the beginning and it will pay off. Each of the three columns along the driveway have an energy efficient light that shines through the glass block on each side. Then we have a couple of exterior spots to wash the walls with some color. Though we probably will not enjoy it much in winter- this should be a highlight during the summer nights when we will be outdoors a little more.
Tomorrow, the cabinet maker will begin installing our kitchen cabinets. We could not be more ready. After eating the specials from the little restaurant nearby, we are ready for our own kitchen to cook in. The food has been good (though repetitious) and reasonable (80 pesos each for a generous lunch and bread roll), but we long to have home cooked meals again. I will be taking pictures of the cabinet installation, since it is not done the way we make cabinets in the US. To begin with, the bases are concrete and the frames are all mortise and tenon construction. But more when I have pictures to show. For now, we are feeling much better, no more coughing, but still a little weak from the sickness. Lots of rest will solve that...