Uruguay First Impressions
20 December 2010 | Montevideo, Uruguay
The last city that we really engaged with was Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and that was a year ago. Since then it has been islands, bays and for the most part anchorages. We are now tied bow and stern, proa a popa , to mooring buoys that hold us parallel to the pier here in Peurto Buceo. We are on one of only ten moorings that are controlled by the Hydrografia (DNH). The rest of the harbour is leased to the yacht club which didn't have a suitable berth for us. All for the best, as the Hydrografia charges and the shelter so close to the pier are very much to our liking.
City life offers different things and we have been offered and accepted a half year membership to the Yacht Club Uruguayo. A 24/7 launch service in and out to the boat, gym, pool and a postal address are new luxuries but they free up access for Eileen allowing her to come and go to work. We are getting over our aversion to that four letter word and Eileen was teaching English and cafe singing within a week of arriving in Montevideo.
Peurto Buceo is located between the upmarket suburb of Pocitos and the "World Trade Centre" which is reminiscent with it's new edificios of Dublin's Financial Services Centre. The promenade, the Rambla, runs west the ten kilometres into the old city and another fifteen east along the suburbs and beaches. There is a bus terminus two hundred metres away and street markets every other day within easy walking distance, complete the facilities.
In other words if you have to moor up in a city for a few months then this is about as good as it gets.
The Montevideans we meet are calm, interested and educated. Their modesty and general interest in the wider world are in stark contrast to most Brazilians that we encountered. I suppose that goes with the territory, Uruguay is a small country wedged between two large neighbours, one formerly a powerhouse the other currently an economic tiger. Montevideans hold their own by being careful, a little understated, slightly reserved but very open once you have an introduction. They treat each other with wonderfully warm greetings and seem content to suck mate or a quiet beer by the beach. They prefer to listen to tango instead of dancing madly to it and will listen to music rather than talk over it. Apparently though there is a shift in national character for carnival...... I'll pass judgement after I experience it.
Services and shops (well my kind of shops) are specialised and it takes a fair bit of time and walking in the commercial district to tick off the list of bits and pieces needed for jobs on the boat. That said if you can find the right shop then they will have almost everything in their area of specialisation. The "rubber" shops stock everything from O rings to brake pedal covers, from industrial sheeting to car door seals and from grommets to castrating rings.
Weekend markets are big and full of new and used clothes, hardware, books and junk. The municipality in Parque Rodo hosts outdoor music alongside the Sunday market but there is not a lot of street entertainment. The bus drivers allow buskers, preachers and sellers on for a few stops to make their pitch and Montevideans listen and applaud.
Christmas is almost on us and Eileen's teaching and exam supervision is over for the holidays. It seems as if the city will empty for at least the first two weeks of January and for longer for those that can afford it. The world and his mother head east to the "Baleniaros" or seaside resorts which vary in popularity depending on your age group and level of "coolness" you desire. The most upmarket and de rigour is Punta del Este, frequented in January by the rich and famous and wannabees of Uruguay and Argentina. We are going to head east too for a couple of weeks, further along the coast to La Paloma. Cruising friends who have been in Buenos Ares for the past year are coming with us. Despite some slow progress on my "to do list" I am happy to pack away the tools and boat parts shopping lists and Eileen is especially ready for a holiday.