The grand niece

I met my 4 month-old grand niece this week in Connecticut!

Though I can profess no knowledge of babies, nor child raising under age 11 for that matter, Mckenzie is a great baby.

As I traveled to meet her, though, I thought it weird that I could not remember ever having held a baby. Had I ever? My niece Amanda answered authoritatively…

… with a photo of me holding her 32 years ago (I’m holding that picture in the first photo).


No respect

I have not much effort lately to pick up the trash the fishermen leave behind on the beach. Today, walking barefoot, a clear piece of fishing line caught my eye. For some reason, I bent to pick it up. It wasn’t very long. Only then did I see what my unconscious eye had already spotted.


This is why I have almost no respect for those cerdos humanos who fish on the beach.

The “dog” project morphs

Fourteen volunteers showed up yesterday to continue the “dog” cleanup project. Uruguayan, Canadian, American, South African, and Cuban. Sweating profusely, we filled two volquetes to overflowing, including

  • five refrigerators
  • three televisions
  • one stove
Less than half the crap we dragged out of the yard and “house.”
In order to fix the front fence, I had brought fence wire, which proved handy when the driver said we needed to tie down the load.

We did “meet” the dogs. Apparently the all-but-immobile husband, closed in the house with the dogs on a hot day, decided he’d had enough. He had already insisted that no one touch a pile of old tires (even though there is no vehicle even close to functioning — the volquete driver will remove the four rusty hulks at no cost, presumably for their scrap value). Husband opened the door. Dogs poured out, barking, making a couple of people understandably nervous. The vet Mariana and I fanned out and helped drive them back inside. They were no problem; obviously loved.

It appeared there were about 25 dogs, not 44. And it seems that ASH (Animales sin Hogar, Animals without Homes), the private animal rescue agency, announced some time ago that they had received 50 or so dogs from an individual. So our speculation is that somehow someone rescued them from Telma, who OBTW is now Marlena (?).

We disassembled the roof that had blown off, and consolidated sheet metal, so the lot is somewhat organized and the dogs have more usable ground. Next phase would be construction, but the person in charge of that is sidelined with a sinus infection.

Meanwhile, the lot-clearing and construction project mission-creeps into a open-ended social work project for low-functioning hoarders. For which others are better suited than I.


Our Canadian neighbors, who put on a wonderful Christmas day get-together, also use the occasion to collect dog food for an impoverished woman in Montevideo who has 44 dogs. Sound like a lot? Last year it was 77.

Delivering the donated food  — 260 kilos of it — they were appalled by what they saw. So they organized. Friday morning we arrived, I and another guy with our weed-eaters with brush blades, others with clippers, all with work gloves and most with Wellies. In a few hours, we had changed the overgrown property dramatically.

Tomorrow, we go to fill a dumpster (volquete; I did boring posts about them here and here) with various trashed appliances, and to continue clearing a path for one of four abandoned vehicles to be dragged away. I will use a “found” concrete column to straighten the leaning fence in front.

Next: repair the roof that blew off because the beams had been eaten by termites, make the house a little livable, install a fence to segregate dogs. At present, when we arrive, she has to put them inside. And what does inside look like?

Glad you asked.

Someone’s sleeping quarters since the roof blew off.
We don’t in fact know what they do for bathroom needs
“We never had children, so our dogs are our children,” says Telma. OK, but 44 — ?
It’s not clear that her husband is physically able to do much more. I didn’t take the photo; I don’t know.

Some money is needed for materials. Though no organized appeal has been made, one person (also referenced in one of the boring volquete posts) has made a very generous donation.

Telma expressed her gratitude for our effort: I feel that I’m cared for; that I’m not alone.

Finding volunteer opportunities in Uruguay can be a challenge (everything, it seems, is covered by a low-paid government job), so I’m grateful to our neighbors for organizing this.

Our estimate for repairs is US$ 3,500.




Meet Luis, Señor increible

The bearings on my 6-year old wheelbarrow broke. You can’t replace them. You can’t buy a replacement wheel with the same size axle.

A South African guy named Geoff told me about buying a replacement wheel, then taking it to this guy who fabricated an axle to make it work on his wheelbarrow. So I went to buy the wheel, then after some discussion with the muchacho at the ferreteria (hardware store), decided it might be prudent to discuss it with Mr. Fixit, Luis, before purchasing it.

Luis said he could make a solution out of plastic that would solve the problem for a long time. Come back at the end of the day. So I did, to find custom-fabricated plastic bearings (they would be a T in cross-section, with perfectly fitting rubber grommets.

“Put a little grease on it when you put it back together,” he said, “and you’ll have no problem.”

“You should see what I can do when I get serious about this shit.”

And the cost? 200 pesos, around $7 US.



The escribano’s handwriting

I was with an escribano (basically, a lawyer for two parties in agreement) getting paperwork done, and was so stunned with his handwriting that I took a picture when he was out of the room:


The first line: my address
Second: townThird: marital status
Fourth: wife’s name – that might be a question mark because I’m not sure what my wife’s proper name is in Uruguay, and I hesitated. She got one from migración, a different one from the Corte Electoral when we became citizens.

Amazingly, it was all correct when he produced the finished document.


Easter lunch


The mellis (mellizos, fraternal twins)

Rodrigo and Mauro came to visit today. I’ve mentioned Mauro’s departure for New Zealand, and Rodrigo’s return, and hanging out at our place. We went to a restaurant near the beach that used to be a night club, now a restaurant with such interesting things as a “breakfast pizza.” Yes, that’s literally what it’s called, based on an American breakfast, even though that’s practically impossible to find in Uruguay.

breakfast pizza in Uruguay

Doesn’t show real well, bit it’s got bacon and an egg.

Mauro’s off to Buenos Aires in a week to join his Argentinian girlfriend he met in New Zealand and two Paraguayans they met at the restaurant they worked in this summer in Punta del Este, and will be taking off for northern Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, and ending in Guayaquil, Ecuador, where they will work in a restaurant through another contact they made this summer.

Rodrigo is working locally, finishing his studies, and taking a course to become an airline steward.

Become an…? Methinks the travel bug has bit.

Oh, and almost forgot: after lunch we went to Baipa and brought back treats to have with tea. I didn’t last a year this time between visits, but since the previous interval was 22 months I’m doing OK overall 😉