The best ‘almost’ Uruguayan experiences ever…

A Uruguayan comedy of errors…

We’d been planning for months to visit the coast north of Montevideo, it’s supposed to be a pretty stretch, and many of the beach houses are designed by some of the best SA architects, so we thought combo of design in the open air, and a quiet one night beach escape would be perfect.

Firstly I have to say that given the volcanic eruption in Chile, and the closure of the airport on Monday/Tuesday, it could very well have been a trip that never was, as flying was an option, so we at least got close, and the decision to go with my favourite ‘Buquebus’ was a good one…they even gave free taxi rides to the terminal for everyone who had to switch to ferry from air…and extra ‘buquemillas’ that’s buque miles if you’re a member of the club..(next photo is of the big buque we took to Colonia, taken from the little buque catamaran we were on to Montevideo)…ok enough of the marketing obsession…until later in the post!

Soooo….we had to get up at 6am, everything organised night before, except it turned out, the driving license scenario, so purpose of trip changed mid buque when discovered and post ‘morning Marissa’, decided taking a bus without any flexibility to make it further North along the coast, in off season, not a great idea, so switched to city stay…

On arrival this rapidly switched to  an OMG can’t believe we had no idea Holland was playing Uruguay today, 2 top 10 world cup football teams, in the first stadium to ever host a world cup (Uruguay’s estadio centenario, they won in 1930, no qualifying they just invited teams over, 13 in total, gorgeous!), and anyone from primary will remember my growing love of football, how could it not in Italy, so have been into world cup since Mexico ’86, Italia ’90 after singing in the chorus of ‘notti magiche’, dancing just off Lygon Street outside Brunettis at 5am in July ’06 after the Italian world cup victory and final success on the penalty shoot outs against of all teams France (sorry but did make it all that much sweeter) and the rather loco, in that game, Zidane, and have even named my stunning rather left-footed cat after a legendary Hungarian/Real Madrid player (yes…sad…Ferenc Puskas),  and so out comes the ‘serendipity’… or so I thought…first some images of the 3 hours we spent attempting to get in to see live, what turned out to be an absolutely amazing game, right at the end…these are as close as we got…

It turned out to be the biggest turnout ever, like MCG crowd, and after standing in the wrong queue (one to get in WITH a ticket) for half an hour, we shifted to the right queue (one to BUY a ticket) around kick off time, and stood for almost two hours (all the way through the first half plus half time plus about 10 mins of second half) waiting to buy tickets…and then…and this is for all you system lovers (thank you SAP, most likely an offshoot) the entire computer ticketing shut itself down, because how could there ever be a scenario crazy enough that there would still be people wanting to purchase more than an hour after the start??!!!! A few photos of our by then long lost friends in the queue…(including the rather gorgeus police horses and the chainsmoking policehorse man finally putting out a cigarette to accompany us, good ratio of horse to punter, but all most calm and well behaved…)

The reaction was of course rather emotional when after we were down to about 40 of us who had been waiting that long, and they told us there were no tickets, but relatively peaceful, and a few valiant attempts as we all walked around the outside of the stadium on our way to view in a bar, of getting all of the group in via one of the access doors, but to no avail…something I will never forget, including the moment when there was a penalty in the first half and all of us were given a running emotional commentary from a bloke in the stadium hanging over the side to keep us in the loop, priceless really…!!!

Anyway we ended up watching it from a dodgy bar, and reached it about 3 minutes before the first Uruguayan goal, followed in 90th minute by the Dutch goal, followed by one of those tense penalty shoot outs I know so well (Italian team were rather mixed at success with these in the 90s…) resulting in a Uruguay victory!! Here is wombat (and us) with our ring side seats watching the last minutes through the bar window in the freezing cold outside about 4 blocks from the stadio…and finally a shot of the closest we could get to seing into the stadium on our way to the bar!!!

mausoleums, miaos and meyer eat your heart out…!

Before I have haunted ghostly nightmares tonight, I thought I’d write about the Recoleta cemetery that we visited this morning. This is actually the third time we’ve tried to visit Evita, the first was in 2003 when the cemetery was completely closed for renovation, the second about a week ago, with no umbrella, in the freezing rain, with the graves all to ourselves, an amazingly surreal experience, however yet again we didn’t actually find Evita…! Today we found Eva’s Duarte family grave, and heard some tragic tales.

The history of the place is fascinating from a social and architectural point of view, it started off around 1830 as a public graveyard, with fairly straightforward flat marble graves, and only really began to change into one of the most expensive and now private, plots in the world, with huge decorative mausoleums, end of the 19th century, you can still be immortalised today if you have around $80k, but you can only renovate an existing mausoleum…the guide was rather vague about where the previous residents are shifted to…today there are over 300,000 coffins and almost 5,000 mausoleums, and all are quite fascinating in their own way…

Most of them are packed in quite close and looking down each of the tiny streets takes you through almost 200 years of architectural mourning…

It is also more than a little chilling when you hear some of the stories, in particular of those that died young.

One terrible story was of a girl mistakenly buried alive on her 19th birthday in the 19th century, after suffering a form of seizure, they knew this after discovering that she had tried to scratch through the coffin to get out, unimaginable (and a little kill bill)…her tomb shows her opening a door…and I am a little spooked by the light on the photo, didn’t see the rays when I took it in full sun. Legend says that she wanders the cemetery at night in a long white gown, moonlight walks out of bounds unfortunately (or fortunately??)…

Another more recent memorial was just awful, a girl on the first day of her honeymoon was killed by an avalanche in Austria, she is depicted with her pet dog, and for those that speak Italian, the poem written by her mother is heart wrenching…

Loc was more taken by one of the tomb cats…

There were quite a few more stories, Eva Peron of course being the most famous, I didn’t realise, never watched Madonna’s rendition of Evita (and not keen, can understand I think, why there was such an outcry in Argentina) that due to numerous political military coups her embalmed body didn’t actually return to BA until the 70s and the president’s body at the time was actually stolen by rebels to ensure she was returned, sure enough when they released her from a Milan cemetery, 3 hours later the president’s body was given back. I’ve learnt a lot about Eva Peron in the last few weeks, and my formed view, is definitely on the side of her having been quite an astonishing woman, her resting place is with her family, and there are a few inscriptions given her rather frequent changes of address after death, in my mind it’s fitting that she is difficult to find and is buried in a simple (for Recoleta) tomb.

I have always found cemeteries fascinating and this was no exception, perhaps it’s a luxury of thought for the still vaguely youngish, and slightly disconnected, I do wonder how I will feel the older I become…a few final images to finish..my favourite is actually the middle shot taken by Loc (must be picking up tips from me as we go…)

Argentinian wombat escapes to Uruguay…

Signing off as have just lost the first four paragraphs I wrote…so need to recover…will come back and re-edit tomorrow…think it’s a bit like when Loc loses his mega spreadsheets…and mood probably similar!!!

OK a little calmer, so will aim to edit back to the orginal…we had always intended to visit Uruguay (and Paraguay although we ran out of time up North..so saving that for next trip) and ended up deciding on a couple of trips, first one being to Colonia, via ferry and my favourite brand ‘buquebus’, cute due to the pronunciation and also the fact that unlike most other transport brands in Argentina it’s main focus is actually ferries and planes…yet it’s the only one with the word ‘bus’…(next trip happening this week, over to Montevideo by buque again and then we’re planning to drive along the coast for a few days).

We took the cheap option of a huge slow ferry rather than the quick cat, and were rewarded with a liner the size of the love boat, set up for thousands, with about 60 of us on board, hysterical, favourite moments included choosing which of the 100 free 5 seater berths to have a nap on, watching a couple tango to their Iphone music in the dark on the outer top deck on the way home, and finding a small bottle of 18 yr old scotch for about $4 in the duty free shop onboard…

As you can see above wombat attempted a bit of a mutiny on the bounty…think he was quite happy in BA…and we got a great view of the city and pier/park on the way out, planning a trip next weekend from land.

The new Argentinian boots also had a good outing, and managed to survive the cobble stones so they’re up there with the sensible merills now..and I can also now also attest (more about the unbelievably amazing “la bamba” estancia in another post due soon) that riding in the boots worked brilliantly! Colonia had elements of old Macau and a little bit of Cuba…the colonial European influence of course…

Lunch was amazing, fish (yay not steak) and just ‘rico’ delicious…and there were still blossoms out, mid winter, need to work out if we can mix in some of these with the wisteria back in Carlton to have flowers year-round… 

 

There were quite a few lighthouses, one of which we puffed our way up, the whole village is an isthmus, do love that word, so incredibly quiet, and clearly in need of a few distant lights so the boats from BA don’t continue into the cobblestones…

I’ll finish with firstly a photo of what has to be the best posting for anyone working for HSBC, perhaps I should have followed the economics path afterall… (and yes it is a little bit of a ‘where’s HSBC’ shot) along with a few sunset shots taken whilst drinking a Uruguayan cabernet overlooking the rio de la plata…most chilled until I decided to double check the buque left at 8pm…oops it left at 7pm…still made it though, although only 1,234 seats left for us to choose from!

Week 5 and all things ‘porteno’ to come extremely shortly…hasta presto mis amigos!

Packing stuff…review month 1

Soooo….based on my original simple rules, what’s working, what isn’t, and what did I miss…?

First up should have packed a few more books, although the last few weeks have been all about trying to learn and absorb Spanish, so anything and everything written is jumped on, and magazines have been great given the generally basic level of Argentinian cosmo language is about my limit… I’m starting to need a book, luckily there are some amazing bookshops in Buenos Aires, so guess actually I can sort this ‘miss’ out fairly easily tomorrow…

The smallest backpack in the world is perfect, and the decision was spot on, so I continue to recommend travelling small to everyone, and not even necessarily particularly light, if you plan to use Aerolineas Argentinas as they do not weigh your bag, so just nonchalantly swing your 15kg pack onto your shoulder at check in and say ‘no’ when they mention ‘luggage?’ and all will be well…(and yes I know this will get us absolutely nowhere with Easyjet so have surrendered and pre-paid to check in the luggage…not worth losing those butter boots…!!!)

The colour code has worked a treat, but need to be sure that mainly it’ll be 24ish degrees or below for the wardrobe I’ve taken to work, luckily it has been, will need to swap things out for SE Asia…and I admit I’ve added tight jeans and knee length black leather boots (it’s the uniform in BA, cue rolling eyes from L…) and goodness the cows are soft, the leather is like butter (sorry Marigold…)  It also helps knowing I can carry them for 3 wks, then will be based with parents in Rome, and can leave them until I return next Easter and bring them back to AUS…perfect.

Things I haven’t used so far but might in the next few months:

  • clothes line (always enough space to hang things without…)
  • mini portable speaker (was always a marginal, think I’ll leave in Rome..)
  • mobile phone due to cunningly leaving charger in Melbourne…

Things that have been ace:

  • light as a feather thongs/flip flops for the non aussies (although thongs have also been a good light packing tip!!) as until the butter boots I only had one pair of shoes…
  • sarong and pasminaminaminathingy…
  • black light waterproof with unzippable armpits (yes Loc thinks this is most amusing, I hate being hot, so it’s great in my view, think it’s some yachting idea so that you can keep cool whilst being sprayed by the sea)
  • this computer…will never leave home without netbook again…everywhere has free wi-fi with the exception of ‘hostel sheraton’ so basically everywhere we’ll be staying, sooooo worthwhile to research, keep in touch, download the millions of photos…
  • mini Muji lilo and tankini…only used once to float in a pool so far, but worth carrying, and will get use over and over when it gets hot in SE Asia later on in the year…

 

Things I wish I had..

  • Puskas
  • my usual MAC face powder stuff, although have to admit being outdoors lots don’t really need it as much, bought an all in one cheapo and it makes me look like a ghost…!
  • Puskas
  • unlimited access to lots of books (ok Alex I think you may win on the maybe I should have taken an e-reader…)
  • I was going to say a bracelet, I deliberately did not bring any jewelry, and finally at the design fair today I found something I liked, so all good in the world of adornment…
  • the ability to stay up until 7am like most of the locals here…!
  • a better grasp of Spanish…hence heading for lessons this week…