Curious logistics

I recently ordered a gold debit card from Goldmoney. The idea is that you own gold, but can sell gold grams to fund a fiat currency card (USD, EUR, GBP, etc). I imagined a scenario such as standing in line at Tienda Inglesa when the price of gold is $4,000/ounce and going up $10 every half hour, tapping instructions into my cell phone to fund the card, then spending the fiat moments later.

Alas, it’s not that fast. Currently takes about a day to transfer the funds (why?).

Why? Well, also why should a card from Canada be en route to Uruguay through Dubai?

Canada to Uruguay, via Dubai

Best to do nothing

I looked at our front door the other day.

It looks quite horrible. Thought I should:

  • take it off hinges
  • good going-over with recently repaired belt sander
  • refinish

dog-scratched door

But then I thought, ya know, burglars are pretty good at scoping out houses. Even for a deaf potential burglar, this gives a good clue about what to expect inside. Not favorable for his undertaking.

Problem solved: do nothing. Hella less work for me, and that warm fuzzy feeling of having done an unsolicited act of kindness for a stranger I’ll never meet.




Fluffy clouds and pampas grass

where we walk dogs, Villa Argentina, Uruguay
Courtesy of Syd Blackwell, who for some reason loves Comic Sans MS

Though the 200-hectare area where I walk Benji with Syd and (he and Gundy’s) five dogs features trashed campsites, crude shelters, and random and totally gratuitous trash dumps, and is no doubt much less appealing than when it was forest, mostly burned in 2009,

Fluffy clouds and pampas grass, Uruguay

it can still be rather stunning.



Return of the swimming hole

I took this photo two days ago. We had been avoiding this route for several days because the water level had gotten so low that it only invited the dogs to get filthy. But my neighbor — who has a swimming pool — estimated earlier that we had gotten 1.5″ of rain in the early morning storm. Naturally Syd and I were curious to see how that translated in the doggy swimming hole.

dog swimming hole, Villa Argentina, Uruguay

Just wonderfully, it turns out! Plenty of room to splash around, lie down, or sit for a few seconds, looking goofy, before chasing each other around or digging holes (an activity frowned upon at home).

Now I can only wonder how deep will this get when we have continued rain? Stay tuned.



Something new, something

Stagnari Blue wine

Stagnari Blue - component wines

Well, of course I had to try it. And—? Since I’m not a wine reviewer, I’ll defer to the experts:

Wicked and extra-ripe. Whispers of fruit punch, acidic monster melon and aggressive lemon rind. Drink now through April.

Actually pleasant enough to drink, despite visual whispers of

this Windex, from Target web site or this. Swimming pool anti-freeze from

I shouldn’t have been surprised to see that Blue contains artificial coloring. But I was surprised to learn it comprises only 10%.

Aunque el 90% del color se obtiene de forma natural, se añadió un 10% de colorante, para conseguir un tono más turquesa, deseado por los responsables de la bodega. (source) — Although 90% of the color is obtained naturally, 10% of dye was added, to achieve a more turquoise tone, desired by those in charge of the cellar.

From the same article:

Young people and people who like to try new things are the target audience for the product, said the director of fine wines at H. Stagnari, Virginia Moreira. She added that the product was born for a personal reason: “In part, having four teenage children wanted to seek a change of habit to choose a natural wine instead of other stronger drinks.”

I hope they like it. I don’t expect I’ll be tempted to buy it again.



Burned out burner

broken BBQ grill burner

We bought an old barbecue grill from some Americans who left a couple years ago. When the stamped-metal burner rusted through and fell apart, I tried finding a replacement. Alas, nothing for that model was any longer available from Sears.

BBQ grill manual

But obviously had been — and needed — before. None of this handwriting is mine.

A friend who is an accomplished metal worker offered to fabricate one, but it turned out the only way to get a suitable piece of tubing was to buy 6 meters of it. Instead, he found a place in Montevideo that made one for $2,500, about USD 89.

That seemed like a lot, and only now did I try again to find a replacement part online. The closest I can find on is something I can’t be sure is the correct part, and I would have to find someone to bring it from the U.S., and — drumroll please — costs almost as much!

BBQ grill replacement part

And would eventually need to be replaced again.

Uruguay - fabricated BBQ grill burner

In contrast, this galvanized burner built in Montevideo will certainly outlast the rest of the grill! Better still, because of the way they made the feeder tubes, it was simple to install. The original part was quite fussy.

Now I am curious what it might cost to fabricate a cooking grid locally, with stainless steel….

BBQ grill cooking grid



Reaching for…

This morning, in my maybe-sorta dare-you-to-grow garden, an ambitious squash plant aspires to — what? A penthouse apartment in the avocado trees?

Ambitious squash plant, Uruguay

Most noteworthy about this image is what it lacks: shadows. After weeks of blistering sun, the temperature dropped dramatically overnight (90s – 70s F, 30s – 20s C). Unlike the last few weeks of forecast nonexistent thunderstorms, this time they got it right. We’re delighted, though reminded that *sigh* winter in Uruguay comes not far behind.




The ANTEL Bill

Three months ago, some guy sputtered up to our rusting mailbox and delivered someone else’s phone bill. Sombunall companies (phone, electric, and water are gubmint) deliver bills privately instead of using the government postal servicee (some irony there?). I don’t know which, since we get ours electronically (sometimes excessively). But two months ago, when the same bill arrived again, I went to tell them that I did not want this to happen again.

Which of course it did.

I did make an effort to find out to whom this bill should have been delivered, but didn’t get too far into that before hatching an alternate plan.

So here’s how I have chosen to advise the misguided mail carrier that the only bit of info he had right was the Manzana, or block. (No, you haven’t forgotten your high school Spanish: manzana does mean apple. I just live here, OK?)

ANTEL bill Uruguay

Then came the presentation.

ANTEL bill taped to mailbox, Uruguay

Style-wise, I’m of the school that says you can’t go wrong with duct tape. But if you think placing the offending bill across the opening where lazy doofus would cram it into mailbox is clever, you’re only revealing your northern-ness. It will not surprise me at all to see the next bill inserted behind this one.

Stay tuned….



sunrise on beach, Atlántida Uruguay

It’s not often I get up early, but I was awake this morning and thought, if I leave by 6:15, I can watch the sunrise on the beach. I looked at my clock (which involves picking it up and pushing the button to light it) and saw that it was exactly 6:15. Two minutes later we were out the door.


The bike

Ralf, Syd’s brother in law, left for Germany Saturday after several months here.

He had brought his electric bike from Germany to have some adventures exploring Argentina and Uruguay. The bike itself provided some adventures, requiring the German Embassy in Buenos Aires to intervene with the bus company that “lost” it. And then the airport: though the bike had come from Germany on Air Europa just with a plastic wrapping, the Uruguayan employees decided it had to be in a box.

And of course they had no box.

So with airline tape, and the help of four helpful guys who apparently appeared out of nowhere, Ralf scavenged cardboard bits from every shop in the airport.

The end result was equally amusing and terrifying. But OK with Air Europa.

Bicycle packed for air transport, Montevideo Uruguay

Of course, upon arrival in Frankfurt, the whole mess had to be taken apart, which took so long that Ralf missed his train and so, after 25 hours of traveling, had to wait two more for the next one.

Having lived in Germany, I can only imagine what other Germans thought of the mess of plastic and cardboard abandoned in the airport.