Author: Doug

The fine art of geolocation in Uruguay

OK, red herring. Actually, I think I must have said “hell no” at some point when a web site asked to see where I was located. So this was the result when I looked for the distance to the closest branch of Scotia Bank, whose debit cards are replacing the Tienda Inglesa points cards.


Hint: we’re only about 40 km away.


But presumably I know now the geographic center of Uruguay, which is here:


So naturally, rather than do something productive, I switched to satellite view to find out where I “was.” Looks pretty remote:


But wait a minute! What are those shapes?

L-shaped forests in Uruguay

Triangular forests in Uruguay

Why, L-shaped and triangular patches of forest, of course.

You can find all sorts of fun tree patterns on Google Earth in Uruguay, which apparently takes the growing of Eucalyptus trees more seriously than its neighbor to the northeast, Brazil.

Ecalyotus trees: Uruguay, yes; Brazil, no

But triangles … why triangles?




Uruguay factoids

Squinting at coffee packages in the supermarket the other day triggered this train of thought.

  • Unless you look very hard for otherwise, the coffee you buy in a supermarket will have sugar in it (“glaseado”)
  • cuts of beef are at right angles to what northerners expect
  • It is almost impossible to buy a long-handled shovel (“you can buy a regular shovel, remove the handle, and put a long handle on it” – yes, I was actually told this)
  • A vehicle with automatic transmission is considered a luxury and taxed higher (in one instance, a mechanic refused to drive a customer’s car onto the rack in the shop because he “didn’t know how to drive an automatic.”)
  • (For North American drivers) Right on red can get you an expensive ticket (I just added to Wikipedia that right on red is not allowed in UY 😉
  • If you take driving school in Uruguay, you will not be told:
    • you should stay in lanes / that lanes have any significance (seriously)
    • what distance to maintain between vehicles
    • after passing, that you should wait until you can see the car in your mirror before pulling back into the lane
  • If Uruguayans say they lived in the United States, you can almost never go wrong by asking “New Jersey or Rhode Island?”
  • If you miss Uruguay in the United States, go to Elizabeth, New Jersey
  • If Uruguayans say they’ve recently been to the United States, you can almost never go wrong by asking “How was the weather in Orlando?”

Feel free to add to the list. I expect I will.

We are enjoying Atlántida

"We are enjoying Atlántida" (Uruguay)

My German friend Mike mentioned this sign today, which I only saw for the first time last week. He assures me it’s been here at least four years.

The faceless girl’s bikini — at least the bottom — is very modest by Uruguay beach standards, and the faceless boy … well, how exactly does he balance on one foot like that?

Yay! Water!

So far, this is the most insufferably hot day of the summer  currently reporting 35° C (95% F) in Montevideo. Clouds are piling up, and it has that “this has to break soon” feeling: i.e., rain.

And the little joys — the sudden sound of water filling a toilet tank after several hours without water. We never lack for drinking water; I tend toward stockpiling (horoscope: Cancer) and my wife knows the value of water having experienced the Cyprus coup and invasion of 1974 somewhat intimately.

Regardless, to suddenly lose water on the hottest day of the year is disconcerting. I was reminded, in the heat with no water, of the drought in neighboring Brazil. Even though rain in January here is unusual — except for last year and this year — I can’t complain …

summer clouds promising rain in Uruguay

… as I hear thunder in the distance.