Christmas drear

And in case we needed another reminder where we are — well, let me put this another way. Do you think that a person who makes his living installing windows should know how to install windows? If you answered yes, clearly you haven’t spent much time in Uruguay.

Incompetent window installation, Uruguay

Incompetent window installation, Uruguay


What makes this even “better” — the guy who installed it has already been back once to fix the leaks.

And this is not BK Aluminios, an incredibly bad but high-profile business. It’s a little mom-and-pop shop that at least pretends to care.



—Several years ago, getting a quote on a large order, I complemented the local lighting store on their prices, which were much better than another place I’d just been. The kid behind the counter said, ”Sometimes they’re more expensive. Sometimes we’re more expensive. There’s no real competition here.”

He used the word competencia.

competition and competence in Spanish

And today his statement was again proven true (with a twist, twice!) with a phone bill address and delivery.

ANTEL bill delivery fail, Uruguay

Greetings from ANTEL

In January, it will be ten years since I last lived in the United States, and one wonderful and immediate change was no more junk mail! Now all our utility bills are delivered electronically, which is great. There’s almost never anything in the outside mailbox.

ANTEL (Uruguay) sends bill ten times

But, yet to find and explanation: why they emailed yesterday’s bill ten times.

Well, some credit due — at least you don’t have to type “www” to get to their web page on this just-recently-introduced Internet thing.


Es lo que hay, ¡Uruguay!

I spent enough years in the USA to be predisposed to a gung-ho, get-it-done attitude, and a respect for quality products and services, so a couple of things here stand out for me.

  1. Tolerance of mediocrity: Chinese electric hand tools with a two-month warranty that cease operating after three, for example. Well, you might say, it’s poor country. And you’d be right. But you won’t find anyone here who disagrees that lo barato sale caro — false economy: cheap things end up being expensive. *Shrug* Es lo que hay. That’s what it is.
  2. Lack of situational awareness: as with people at peak season who pause in the exit door of the supermarket to have a conversation, or bicyclists, motos, or pedestrians who cross streets without looking. And let’s not forget cars.

Here’s a photo that presents a lovely illustration of both.

Es lo que hay, Uruguay.

The lady who apparently owns but doesn’t live at the end of Syd’s block had a hissy fit about the growing brush pile on her corner (but on the town right-of-way). She decided an appropriate response involved tearing the pile apart so that brush blocked both streets. Who did what next remains a mystery, but last week we returned from walking dogs to see two guys loading brush into a truck. Leaving Syd’s 5/6ths of the dog pack inside, we walked down to see if they’d be similarly taking away the 2+ year old brush pile next to Syd’s house. They indicated they would. Excellent!

They added that the current brush pile would require a second trip.

What you’re seeing in the photo is, left side, the remaining half of the brush pile. The blue and white stuff beyond is the non-brush trash that they carefully removed from the brush pile. The blue thing beyond that is (and was) an empty trash container that could have easily accommodated the trash they separated from the brush pile.  But apparently for them when your job is to pick up brush, it doesn’t include leaving the street clean.

The rest of the story, as you might guess, is that they haven’t been back.

I’m guessing they will. Eventually. Meanwhile, es lo que hay.

A certain lack of [something]

At some point, we realized that the Disco “Hypermercado” gives a 10% discount for ten bottles of wine. In general, Disco has little to recommend it beyond perhaps-lower prices than Tienda Inglesa. But for a deal on wine, it’s fine. Unlike Tienda Inglesa — which has thicker bags — the cashiers at Disco put three, not two, bottles of wine in each thinner plastic shopping bag.

So what happens when you buy nothing but ten bottles of wine?

Three bottles in the first bag. Three bottles in the second bag. Clearly what remains are four bottles. Two more bags. So — ?

Three bottles in the third bag. One bottle in the fourth bag.

This is not an isolated incident.

Why would a cashier not put two bottles in the last two bags? What am I missing here?



Correa de secadora

Last Saturday, our clothes drier stopped spinning. Not entirely. Just when it had anything in it, the only time that matters.

I tore into it, took the breaking belt to find a replacement. Not happening in Uruguay, in a smallish town, on a Saturday. So Monday I went to the local appliance store. Nope. Have to go to Montevideo. How, I asked, do people in Rivera and Artigas (places several hundred km away) live, if everything has to be done in Montevideo?

The answer: telephone.

By now, I’m comfortable in person in Spanish, but I’m still a little hesitant to phone, because if you get a speed-freak mumbler on the other end (the phone company, a government entity, comes to mind) , you’re going nowhere fast. In this case, I was in luck. I confirmed datos by email, transferred money to their bank account online, and at 9 AM the next day heard a beep-beep of the truck delivering the belt.

Which was not the size I had ordered.

I emailed the company, and long story short, two and a half days later we’re up and running again. They paid the second shipment, and the return of the first.

Kudos to AMT Aspiratutto SRL!



Close. Well, not really.


As part of “regularizing” our house, plumber needs to add vent pipe. Instead of measuring down from window to calibrate inside and outside, assumes floor is at same level. Arrow indicates where hole ended up being.