Starting to make sense?

Knowing my fondness for quirky Uruguayan handwriting, Syd sent along this gem:

Marvelous Uruguayan handwriting

1 something times maybe 20, or 20 liters, and one of the worst attempts at a 9 that I’ve seen yet. His annotations are in dark red, but why stop there? What’s with the month scribble? And since when is a 7 simply a crossed 1?

What’s starting to make sense is that this handwriting actually mirrors the way many Uruguayans speak. Not all, but many, especially the important people like electricians, mechanics, and plumbers: largely incomprehensible mumbles to a non-native.

Alas, I didn’t pick up handwriting samples in Colombia, Peru, or Bolivia, where they speak clearly, so I’ll just have to hypothesize for now that they also write legibly. Seems a stretch, but you never know.



Worn out, burned out

While waiting for the repair guy coming to replace the heating element (resistencia) in our water heater, I took a picture of my flip-flops. They’ve lasted at least a year and yes, the grass is showing through the right heal.

Worn out flip flops and burned-out water heater element

I often have to wait outside to wave people down, since my telephone explanations of how to get here are remarkably and consistently misunderstood. Today’s communications snafu also started on the wrong foot, as I didn’t really know how to answer an incoming call on my new smart phone. Seriously.

handwritten repair bill, Uruguay

Here’s the bill: visit, heating element, and cablingactually for the toll, since he came from Montevideo (it should have been 160 pesos, but then he probably charged it to everybody this side of the peaje).

1,000 pesos is around USD 36.

And if that 1,000 on the bill looks like 7,000 to you, you might share my fascination with Uruguayan handwriting.



Abandon logic all ye ….

Presupuesto with weird Uruguay handwritten 9

The first thing about this presupuesto (estimate) you might notice1 is the 9 that looks like a lollipop. And you might recall that the 9s of Uruguay are a near-obsession of mine.

But no, I’m sure I’ve mentioned this, but don’t find it: when you buy house paint in Uruguay, the cost varies with the color. You don’t just ask “how much does a liter of this brand cost?” — you have to ask “How much does a liter of this brand in this color cost?”

So I picked a slightly cream color and got the cost for 20 liters, UYP 2,596 (about USD 17.30/gallon). At the last (unhelpful) place I bought paint the cost for them to mix the color was a multiple of the cost of the plain white, so I wrote down another price.

Uhn huh. If you take the 20 liters of plain white, ask them to add color and mix it for you, they will charge you 89 pesos — less.

1 red arrows have a way of doing that

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.


The restaurant challenge


I took this photo a week or two ago. I can pretty much make out what’s available.


This is the cuenta we got yesterday when we went with friends. I just realized it has nothing to do with what we ordered. Apparently.

The number disease has spread.

If you’re one of my three (or is it two?) regular readers, you might recall that the 9s of Uruguay bother me. And if you look at this one, you can see that obviously the writer was taught to make a nine starting with a counterclockwise loop, which then rejoins itself and veers off at an angle to look like a 9. Unless it doesn’t, in which case it ends up as a P.


But what’s up with that first digit — ?


It’s a 4. It just happens to be upside down.

How the hell did someone learn, or decide, to write a 4 upside-down? Also, if you clicked on the link above, you might note that the 3 here is verging into the territory of the 2 on the linked page.

Uruguay is not an exotic country, but does hold some mystery. If you’re willing to squint just right, with your bad eye.

Give me a (small) k!

Last Friday, our fiber optic service crapped out. I called AntelData to file a reclamo, a complaint, and learned that service was down for an entire zone. Not much to do but wait.

Saturday I learned that our neighbors had their service back. Sunday we spent a delightful afternoon with a couple of friends with whom we explored northern Argentina a few years back, at our favorite restaurant. Got home: still no internet.

Monday morning, a computer-illiterate Uruguayan friend mentioned entering usario and contraseña, and suddenly it clicked: Antel insisted the correct modem lights were lit. Then I remembered that on my first call, they’d had me enter user name and password, which I did—obviously incorrectly?

So I wondered if what I took as a capital A at the beginning of the handwritten password the tech left months ago, was instead a 4. The passwords are all upper case. LATIN AMERICAN COUNTRIES LOVE ALL CAPS.

No, not 4.

Then I looked at out ambiguously written handwritten user name, one letter and 5 numbers @adsl… and wondered: was K supposed to be k?


Bingo! In a trice we were back to wasting huge amounts of time glued to the screen.

(Fortunately there were no 9s.)