Sunday, December 31, 2006
Feliz Año Nuevo
Saturday, December 30, 2006
Buenos Aires: Plaza de Mayo
The Plaza de Mayo is Buenos Aires's main square. It's right in front of Argentina's "White House", known as the Casa Rosada [Pink House]. The police had erected barriers across the end of the plaza near the Casa Rosada to prevent protests.
The area surrounding the Plaza de Mayo has office buildings for various government agencies and private businesses. We saw an interesting end-of-the-year tradition: office workers throw armloads of paper out the window, like giant confetti. It was the last workday of 2006 and papers filled the trees and made drifts along the curb.
Buenos Aires: San Telmo
Buenos Aires: Palermo
Buenos Aires and Montevideo
Buenos Aires was also hotter. While both cities are on the Río de la Plata, Montevideo seems to get more of the sea breeze.
Friday, December 29, 2006
To Buenos Aires
Argentinian protestors had threatened to stop the Buquebus ferry as part of their economic blockade of Uruguay during the tourist season. The protesters closed the border at Fray Bentos for the entire summer last year and they are blocking it now. The protestors announced they would expand their blockade to include the ferry, but Argentina's government intervened, so we were able to travel.
We didn't spend a lot of time in Argentina but we enjoyed what we saw. I'll post some pictures soon.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Over the river
Here are a couple of other Uruguay blogs to explore while I'm gone.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
On the right, is an ordinary chicken egg for comparison.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Santa doesn't come to every house
We called the agency and read a few of the kids' letters. One note said,"Mr. Papa Noel, This year I have been good. Would it be possible to bring me a doll?" And another said, "Dear Papa Noel: I would like a soccer ball because I like sports very much and a pair of sneakers." We did a little shopping and delivered gifts directly to a few kids on Christmas eve. They were delighted.
Living in the US, I've been fortunate to have never been in the situation where I couldn't buy a gift for my own children. (Our problem tends to be the opposite: we have so many things we can't store them all.) Economists may argue that direct gift-giving is inefficient & that a cash transfer would be more efficient, but writing a check doesn't make the same emotional connection. I was really touched seeing these kids.
It's made me think differently about the holiday season. For instance, while I love electronic gadgets, after visiting these poor children I can't read this high-tech wish list without a touch of queasiness.
Monday, December 25, 2006
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Feria del Libro
Watch a video clip of the performance.
update: At midnight on Christmas eve, it seemed like everyone in Montevideo set off fireworks. We went out to the street to watch and then went back to eat our dinner. We ate a delicious lechón. Firecrackers continued to explode throughout the night and groups of young people were still drinking on the Rambla at 8 the next morning.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Almacén del Hacha
My Father-in-law lived a few houses up the street several decades ago. In that time, the building had two parts: the bar and the almacén [store]. The bar sold grappa and caña and customers played truco. As a boy, he'd go to the almacén for a refuerzo de a vinten [a sandwich that cost 2 centavos]-- bread with a very thin slice of mortadella. If he had 5 centavos, they offered another sandwich with more meat.
El hacha means the axe and the name comes from an infamous crime committed during the 18th century. On April 15, 1794, an employee named Bernardo Paniagua was killed during a robbery. The weapon? An axe. The murderer was captured in Argentina and hung in Uruguay. For over 200 years, people have referred to it as the "esquina del hacha".
Today, it's a very nice restaurant decorated with historic artifacts: an antique cash register, a Victrola gramophone, a waist-high mortar, tango posters, beer advertisements, photos of the Montevideo, and more. We had a great dinner there last night and we ate a lot. The entradas were so good that we could have skipped the main course. I particularly liked the jamon serrano, the spicy potatoes, and the choriso sausage cooked in white wine. My plato principal was entrecot en salsa Tannat (steak with a red wine sauce); very nice. I didn't have room for dessert.
It's located at Calle Buenos Aires 202 (esquina Maciel). Telephone:915-2823 There's parking across the street; a waiter will unlock the gate,if you ask.
Friday, December 22, 2006
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
The building is fully equipped with a parrilla, a separate kitchen, a marble bar, and tables for plenty of friends. Carlos Gardel photos hang over the upright piano and Gardel's tango recordings play on the sound system. There's an antique cash register on the bar, shelves of antique milk bottles, an icebox built for real blocks of ice, ceramic beer bottles from defunct Montevideo breweries, old tins for mate, and much more.
Lunch was wonderful: three types of sausage followed by matambre de cerdo and colita de cuadril from the parrilla. Once again, I was quite impressed by the generosity and hospitality of the people of Uruguay.
Monday, December 18, 2006
Arbol de Navidad
Real Christmas trees don't seem to be part of the holiday tradition in Montevideo. I haven't seen any real trees for sale, but artificial Christmas trees are available in all the big stores. They range from little Charlie Brown trees to nice six-footers. We bought a mid-sized one (maybe 4 feet tall) for our apartment. The first tree I put in the cart had an odd note handwritten on the box label: otoñal. Autumn-something? That seemed a little strange. I poked a hole in the box to peek inside-- it had brown plastic needles. I had almost bought an artificial dead tree! Anyway, I traded it for a green version and we picked out a few decorations and brought it home.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
It's a beautiful theater with a small main floor and 5 tiers of boxes. None of the seats are far from the stage.
We saw a ballet there this afternoon: Julio Bocca y el Ballet Argentino en ''El hombre de la corbata roja'. I enjoyed it much more than I expected.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Not all of the engravings are in English. There are some in Spanish, of course, but also many in Hebrew and in German. US military influence in the 19th century is suggested by graves of sailors from the USS Ticonderoga and the USS Germantown.
Friday, December 15, 2006
*Here's the original quote:
"Queremos decir que, como dice el dicho, cuando veas las barbas de tu vecino arder, pon las tuyas en remojo."
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Artisan-made foods are popular in Montevideo: bread, pasta, cheese, ham, and even fish. I like supporting these small-scale producers and the quality of the products that I've tried has been very good.
Grant McCracken looks at this same trend in the US and identifies 10 reasons for the artisanal movement. Here's his first reason:
1. a preference for things that are human scale.
If once we delighted in the sheer scale of a consumer society, now we want things made in tiny batches. In the place of Morton Salt that comes from some vast industrial process, some of us prefer artisanal salt. Pam bought salt recently that came with a talkative, 4 color, brochure. Geez, I wondered, what is there to say about salt?. Plenty, apparently
I haven't seen artisanal salt in Uruguay, but I really like the breads.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
School's out for Summer
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Wine in Uruguay
The boxed wines are high quality wines-- unlike the stereotype in the US-- and they are even cheaper than the same wine in a bottle.
Saltshaker gives this geography lesson on Uruguay's vineyards:
In regard to the wine world, some 79% of all the vineyards in Uruguay are in the areas of Canelones and San Jose, basically within about 50 miles of Montevideo. Another 18% are in the province of Colonia, the remaining 3% are scattered here and there - in Paysandú, Salto, Durazno, Rivera, and Maldonado. Most of those latter areas, however, have no more than one or two wineries, and the majority of vineyards in those areas are owned by wineries in the primary areas, grapes are sent in for processing.
Update: From the comments, I read that I missed some interesting posts on the Saltshaker blog.
I'd just note that the particular post you selected is the 3rd in a series of posts on different Uruguayan wineries that are right in a row, starting a couple of days before that one and continuing on afterwards - I had a delightful opportunity to travel with members of Uruguay's wine bureau and visit quite a few wineries in different parts of the country.
Here are some links on his visits to different wineries: Los Cerros de San Juan a Irurtia, Bodegas Carrau, Castillo Viejo, Pizzorno, Juanicó, Bouza, Viñedo de los Vientos. I recommend his whole series.
Monday, December 11, 2006
His paintings are also displayed at El Museo Nacional de Artes Visuales. The piece I've seen reproduced most frequently on Uruguayan handicrafts is this simple drawing.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
La Noche de las Luces
Here's a short video:
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Friday, December 08, 2006
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Mercado del Buceo
My lunch today: snapper grilled on the parilla.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Uruguay's net worth per capita was $11,807 (based on current exchange rates.) For comparison, the US net worth per capita was $143,727. Japan had the highest net worth at $180,837.
Some other Latin American countries (net worth per capita, in US $):
Dominican Republic 5,713
A couple of notes:
1. The data is from 2000, so it doesn't fully reflect the regional economic crises.
2. Wealth is also not distributed evenly within a country, so these figures don't necessarily reflect a "typical" person's wealth.
3. These figures don't account for differences in price levels in different countries. The full report does include purchasing power parity numbers. (For these Latin American countries, PPP-adjusted measures of wealth are substantially higher. For Japan, the PPP wealth measure is much lower because of the high prices in that country.)
This map (pdf) gives a quick overview. See the press release (pdf) or the full report(pdf) for more detail.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Think a bit about this policy. A customer at a store sees something interesting & decides to take a photo to share with his friends and family. "Hey cool store, check it out!" Isn't this exactly what a store is trying to accomplish through advertising? I understand that a business has the right to restrict photography on its property, but are those restrictions in its own interest? Seth Godin, a marketing expert, had the same thing happen to him. You can read his thoughts on it.
Anyway, I still shop at Géant but every single time I walk in the door I get a bad feeling. If there was another superstore in Montevideo, I'd shop there instead.
Monday, December 04, 2006
María Noel Taranto
The magazine, Galería de Busqueda, had a very nice feature on her in its most recent edition. (Sorry, no link: I couldn't find an online version of Busqueda.)
This post has a better photo of her and this post has a short video from an earlier show.
Watch a video clip from Friday's performance:
update: El Pais had a nice review in Wednesday's newspaper.
El nombre del talento: Maria Noel Taranto
HUGO GARCIA ROBLES
El pasado viernes primero de diciembre, la acogedora salita de La Colmena fue el marco para la presentacion del CD Divinas divas de Maria Noel Taranto.
La cantante tiene detras de si una trayectoria que la senala en el panorama de la musica popular del pais con personalidad propia y, ademas, imbricada en estilos y ambitos no muy transitados.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
We've had ravioli, canelones, tortelines, capilletis, and sorrentinos filled with ricotta, other cheeses, meat, chicken, ham, vegetables and more. The noodles are yellow, green (spinach), and orange (red bell pepper). Oh, I can't forget to mention the ñoquis (gnocchi).
Another benefit of immigration!
Saturday, December 02, 2006
It took a few hours to get from the honor guard to the throwing of the mortarboards and I was worried I'd be late for lunch at the Club de Pesca, but I arrived just as Tito was ready to serve oven-roasted lamb. I'm glad I made it.
Friday, December 01, 2006
Major streets are commonly referred to by just the apellido (last name) but the street signs include all the names and titles. Sometimes this can be important. Ellauri is a fairly big street in our neighborhood (leading to Punta Carretas Shopping) and its full name is Jose E. Ellauri. There is a sidestreet near the zoo, also named Ellauri: Placido Ellauri.
Many of the streets are named after famous Uruguayans, but they weren't familiar names to me. After a while, I learned that names like Artigas or Rivera are the equivalent of Washington or Jackson. Some names are still unfamiliar like, President and General Óscar Diego Gestido. (Of course that's true in the U.S. as well. Westnedge Avenue is a major street in Kalamazoo but I didn't know it was named for Colonel Joseph Burchnall Westnedge until I started writing this post.)
The other street names that gave me problems were the dates. 21 de Setiembre, 8 de Octubre, 26 de Marzo all sounded about the same to me. My Uruguyan history still isn't good enough to tell you what happened on those dates, but now I can remember which street has the headquarters of the Club Nacional.
I'm glad our street is La Rambla.
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