And another nice thing about Uruguay

From George Ure:

I’d write something clever about the primary voting today but just can’t bring myself to waste your time.  And I’m gonna puke it I hear another Newt ad.

No Newt ads here. Especially since our only TV is devoted to zombie-killing and we rarely watch it, and the car stereo system has locked us out of it as a security precaution. (More fun tidbits about the Mercosur Chevrolet we’ll save for another time.)

Two (admittedly trivial) reasons to prefer da Spanish As She Is Spoken Here

1

In México, I occasionally posed the following to a local: If I don’t wear a watch, so don’t know what time it is, how do I know when to stop saying buenos días and start saying buenas tardes?

Invariably, the answer came back: at noon. To which I invariably replied, but if I don’t have watch and don’t … never mind.

Here, say buen día and you’re good all day long. (At least in our area of México, that was – rarely – used in parting, as in have a nice day. Blech.)

2

How ya doin’? In México, that simple question involves determining whether your relationship with the askee is formal or informal. ¿Como esta? or ¿Como estas? Here, the second can be the same as the first thanks to the Uruguayos’ habit of dropping The letter S.

Better still, ¿Que tal? works just fine in all but very formal situations.

Two (admittedly trivial) reasons to prefer da Spanish As She Is SpokenHere

1

In México, I occasionally posed the following to a local: If I don’t wear a watch, so don’t know what time it is, how do I know when to stop saying buenos días and start saying buenas tardes?

Invariably, the answer came back: at noon. To which I invariably replied, but if I don’t have watch and don’t … never mind.

Here, say buen día and you’re good all day long. (At least in our area of México, that was – rarely – used in parting, as in have a nice day. Blech.)

2

How ya doin’? In México, that simple question involves determining whether your relationship with the askee is formal or informal. ¿Como esta? or ¿Como estas? Here, the second can be the same as the first thanks to the Uruguayos’ habit of dropping The letter S.

Better still, ¿Que tal? works just fine in all but very formal situations.

Monster Squash

Last year we had volunteer (we didn’t plant them) tomato plants, growing everywhere, even outside the living room window.

This year it’s zapallos, large green squash that turn yellow. Two or three plants occupy large swaths of the yard, and one growing on the neighboring lot goes 15 meters in several directions.

This morning I saw some beachgoers stop as Dad pointed to something in the leaves. I went out and discovered this specimen, actually visible from the street, though I would never have spotted it.

monstersquash

Mejorar: to improve

When I lived in Europe, it seemed fashionable for ‘experienced’ expats to tell newbies how the place had gone to hell in the last (pick a number of) years.

Here, I can list a number of improvements in two and a half years. New airport, improved roads, much faster internet, better selection of white wine in the local supermarket (we must have helped), and an effort to conserve the dunes, with boardwalks erected since the first time we visited.

Alas, our nearest wasn’t particularly well built. Its entire length used to have hand rails on both sides. Still, its convenience provides incentive not to trample the dunes, and the base is solid.

Some will argue the place is going to hell (today the rumor of a revised effort to introduce a worldwide wealth tax on residents – enforceable precisely how, pray tell?) but I don’t see it. Yet, anyway.

We ponder and plan. Worrying helps nothing.

Big day for some local kids

New Zealand offers a limited number of one-year working visas for young Uruguayans, and several of our son’s friends jumped at the opportunity. One left in January, the rest today. Seeing people off at the airport here is a big deal. There were many, many people inside seeing off travelers.

Santi (center front) arrived in a sullen mood…

…but, being Santi, that couldn’t last too long.

The three in the middle in back, Matilde, Mauro (twin brother Rodrigo the one already in NZ), and Diego are the ones taking off. The boys have been like family much of the last two and half years. We’ll miss them.

¡Que tengan un buen viage y muy buena suerte!

Gallineta

Gallinetas (pronounced ‘gazhinettas’) are one of my favorite birds here. I’ve only seen them in our yard a few times, though I hear their raucous calls almost every morning. When, this dreary morning, I saw a pair of them in the front yard, I grabbed my camera – to see that one had jumped onto a fence post (behavior I’ve never seen) as though posing. Only then did I realize  I couldn’t shoot through a window screen because of the camera’s auto-focus.

I quietly opened the front door a little bit, expecting the bird to spook. But no, it just stood there. Indeed as if posing.

In Argentina, it’s called Ipacaá; in Brazil, saracuruçu. In English, Giant Wood-Rail.

A visit from Aramides ypecaha

Gallinetas (pronounced ‘gazhinettas’) are one of my favorite birds here. I’ve only seen them in our yard a few times, though I hear their raucous calls almost every morning. When, this dreary morning, I saw a pair of them in the front yard, I grabbed my camera – to see that one had jumped onto a fence post (behavior I’ve never seen) as though posing. Only then did I realize  I couldn’t shoot through a window screen because of the camera’s auto-focus.

I quietly opened the front door a little bit, expecting the bird to spook. But no, it just stood there. Indeed as if posing.

In Argentina, it’s called Ipacaá; in Brazil, saracuruçu. In English, Giant Wood-Rail.

New, modern trash collection

This thing appeared on the corner this morning with no notice, and no mention of whether it’s for trash and recyclables, or just one or the other. They’ve appeared around town the last few weeks, but I guessed we didn’t get one because our street was too narrow, and we’d continue using our basket-on-a-pole.

First thought: now I can rid of big stuff that doesn’t fit in the basket!

Second thought: how do they empty that thing?

UPDATE: though a neighbor told me they emptied them by hand (!) they do indeed have lifts on the garbage truck. Instead of running and grabbing bags out of baskets on poles, the two people riding on the back of the truck jump of to maneuver this bin into place.

Volatility

Brisk westerly blow-cap-off-your-head breeze during my grounding walk on the beach this morning. A degree or two lower and I would want a windbreaker over my t-shirt. Only a few days ago, wearing a t-shirt if you didn’t have to was crazy, given the heat and humidity.

The climate is volatile, the economy is volatile, the social mood is volatile – the last I know from reading, not direct experience. For now, Uruguay remains tranquilo.