On the dog walk

dog watering hole, Villa Argentina, Uruguay

Several months ago, Ralf and I (if I remember correctly), wandering far from the usual paths, encountered a little pond, apparently where someone at some point dug sand for construction. We’ve been fortunate to have decent rain this summer, so on this very hot and muggy day the dogs loved the stop. From left to right: Leah, Kiya, Sofia, Jordan (front), Benji, and what looks like a black lump in some grass, Lorena.

Trash in Uruguay

Further along, from one day to the next — in the middle of nowhere — appeared a pickup truck load of construction trash. Yes, even with abundant trash collection containers everywhere, some troglodytes decided the best way to deal with their trash would be to drive into a large empty area and start a trash pile there.

Which reminds me of a story. In nearby Parque del Plata, when the trash containers first appeared a few years ago, my friend Carlos and his wife embarked on the project of cleaning up the trash-dump empty lot diagonally across from them. They filled the “dumpster” over and over, until finally the lot was clean. Then Carlos spots a middle-aged man carrying a bag of garbage to the container. No, right past the container, to the middle of the lot, where he drops it on the ground. Carlos screams at him to use the trash container.

“But this is the way I’ve always done it,” he says.

Welcome to Uruguay.

Carlos, who is Uruguayan, tells me they did eventually “toilet train” that troglodyte.

It took the better part of a year.



A weed shop in Montevideo

Cañabis Protectio shop, Montevideo, Uruguay

No, not selling weed. Seeds, paraphernalia, maybe growing supplies. I didn’t even bother to look inside. I was showing some visitors around.

Uruguay legalized marijuana — sort of — in 2013.

You can legally grow six plants at home, but you’re supposed to register with the government, an idea which for some reason weed users (and people who remember the military rule) don’t universally embrace. You can join a cooperative and grow up to 99 plants. But no weed is available through pharmacies, as planned, because many pharmacies oppose the idea. (Because marijuana is so unhealthy, don’t you know.)

Cannabis medicine
Between 1850 and 1942, Big Pharma did not exist. Thanks @hemprojectsocial on Facespook.

Unlike Jamaica, Uruguay has decided not to sell marijuana, if and when it’s ever available, to non-residents and non-citizens. However,

Montevideo is now littered with shops selling weed paraphernalia to both locals and tourists. A biscuit firm is marketing alfajores – the country’s national snack, two chocolate biscuits sandwiching a layer of dulce de leche – at dope users suffering the munchies. Its yellow “Marley” packaging seems to be in almost every convenience store, complete with a lion waving a Rastafarian flag and a large dope leaf. [source]

Alfajores Marley
Source: subrayado.com

Needless to say, I’ve never seen one. Must be a Montevideo thing. Reminds me of the Macarena: the U.S. nationwide song craze that no one outside the Washington Beltway had ever heard of. But I digress.

Uruguay’s laudable marijuana initiative will hopefully pan out. Meanwhile, it’s looking — to me at least — as a well-meant, and welcome, move, that can only come to fruition through a miracle: the government bureaucracy actually allowing human beings to thrive. Here, as everywhere else, they seem to revel in doing the exact opposite.




Saab story

On Saturday, returning from the organic vegetable market, we passed an unusual crowd of parked cars on the entranceway to the Ruta Interbalnearia, and glimpsed a collection of antique cars on display in a most unusual and inaccessible area.

Atlátnida, Uruguay: location of antique car show

It was a bit before noon. We unpacked groceries, I checked email, then hopped on my bike with camera to document the event.

Alas, there was nothing there, and no evidence that there had ever been anything there. Gone!

So you get this instead, spotted a day or two later in Salinas:

Old Saab in yard, Salinas, Canelones, Uruguay

It’s got potential, no?

Not German

When I spotted this rig, past experience dictated that its inhabitants would speak German.

“BL” seems like it would indicate Belgium, which has a small German-speaking population.

But in fact it indicates the Bratislava district of Slovakia.

Bratislava, 2008
Photo from our visit to Bratislava in 2008

Pretty well traveled:_____, Peru, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Czech Republic, _____, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Spain, Finland, Luxembourg, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Germany, Gibraltar, _____, Norway. Starting upper left, diagonally down to the right, any idea what those three are?

Anyway, in true Euro travel style, it appears equipped for anything.

I still chuckle when I see these massive fuel-guzzling monsters, remembering this.




The medicine that mocks me

Several days ago I got inspired by bench dips, and decided to add a few to my daily strength routine.

Great exercise! But then, after 24 hours, my right wrist — apparently not as flexible as the left — hurt enough that I didn’t do them again. The day after that, the pain was gone, so I did a few more. No pain, just a new stress on shoulder and upper pectoral muscles. Great exercise! But again, 24 hours later, more pain. And this time crazy swelling. Tendons not happy. Visit to doctor. X-ray. Wrist splint, ice, topical anti-inflammatory/analgesic. And anti-inflammatory medicine —


— which seems to be reminding me, if somewhat in the manner of a seventh-grader, that someone in his 60s might be better off not launching into exercises demonstrated by 20-somethings as if he himself were 20-something.

On the plus side, in a couple days I’ve gotten pretty damn good at typing with my left hand, and using a mouse lefty as well. Keypad usage is a bit problematic, but left-handed mousing could be a useful skill combined with right-handed keypadding.

Meanwhile, can’t wait ‘til this heals enough to try bench dips again.

Picard face palm

How did this happen?

Maybe we bought a blender and it burned out.

Maybe we bought one from Tim and Loren when they returned to the land of the Untied Snakes.

Syd and Gundy gave us one when they were cleaning out storage space. Which I burned up trying to grind up eggshells for the compost pile (thanks for that idea, cuzzie ;-).

How did we end up with three blender tops?

So now I’m sort of doing the same. I’m reading The Joy of Less and loving it. Because of our frequent moves in the past — 10 in a 21-year period from 1986 — including two overseas, we’ve done a lot of paring down.* However, even in a non-consumerist culture like Uruguay, the stuff piles up once you settle.

When we made hummus the other day, I dragged out our two blender bases, both of which are pretty heavy duty. One didn’t work at all (ah, another project!). The other did the job. But then a day later a third blender top surfaced. Do we need three? They seem to be sort-of-but-not-quite interchangeable.

And then, when was the last time we used the blender?

Perhaps in 2016. Perhaps not.

There’s something distinctly non-minimalist going on here!

* three of us moving from Mexico: about ten suitcases, three pet carriers (2 trips), plus a single pallet shipped from Houston with 16 cartons, a floor lamp, and a BMX bike.