Reaching for…

This morning, in my maybe-sorta dare-you-to-grow garden, an ambitious squash plant aspires to — what? A penthouse apartment in the avocado trees?

Ambitious squash plant, Uruguay

Most noteworthy about this image is what it lacks: shadows. After weeks of blistering sun, the temperature dropped dramatically overnight (90s – 70s F, 30s – 20s C). Unlike the last few weeks of forecast nonexistent thunderstorms, this time they got it right. We’re delighted, though reminded that *sigh* winter in Uruguay comes not far behind.

 

 

 

Did I mention the wind?

The squall-like wind did not last long the other day, but it came from every direction, which is why I so thoroughly sealed the stairway windows.

tree down from storm, Atlántida, Uruguay

In Atlántida, a rather majestic tree was uprooted, taking part of the sidewalk with it. I don’t think winching it back into place is an option. Too bad.

Tree downed by storm, Atlántida, Uruguay

A few meters away, the roots of another tree that fell the same direction, but was cut up to clear the street.

Tree down from storm, Atlántida, Uruguay

On a less-traveled street, a red rag warns passersby of a downed cable.

Feliz año nuevo

You’ll recall that Christmas Day 2016 was dreary as could be.

January 1, 2017, Uruguay: rain

So was New Year’s Day. I’m starting to wonder if this forecast “hot and dry” summer might end up looking like 2014.

Typical Uruguay quality?

I “repaired” the incompetent window installer’s botched fix (see first link above). Turns out when he smeared everything with silicon, he covered up the drain hole. Someone else advised me to drill holes on the outside channel every 20 cm or so, and I drilled through the aluminum — but forgot to cut away the silicon on the outside. Anyway, in the yesterday’s bad storm, it (finally) didn’t leak.

Sunset, Atlántida, Uruguay

The rain cleared and we had a lovely sunset at 8:30,

moon, Atlántida, Uruguay

and a clear view of the waxing moon.

The second of January didn’t bode well. I got bitten by a dog.

Alas, it was my own dog. Accosted by an obnoxious and too-often-loose dog, Benji and Syd’s five predictably went crazy. Apparently when I pulled Benji back quickly he assumed my leg was the enemy. No harm done.

Sunset, Atlántida, Uruguay

And another lovely sunset.

fake soccer ball in ditch

Yesterday brought the unusual sight of a fake soccer ball in a ditch, not far from where I once saw two real soccer balls in the ditch.

Beach house complete after two years

And I noticed for the first time that the townhouses are finally rented after two-plus years of construction.

house, Atlántida, Uruguay

Today I noticed that one started ten months ago is finally finished.

Meanwhile at the beach, the saga of the buried boardwalk seems almost over.

Rotting boardwalk, Atlántida Uruguay

The exposed part is getting a little dangerous to walk on (but could be worse),

Dune breach, Atlántida, Uruguay

and while the dune has regained its height on the left, burying the elevated boardwalk, the path of least resistance has once again become the breach in the dune, which is now larger than ever. For a fun comparison of its early days, see this from October 2013.

stick on beach

And a much-traveled beach throwing stick that now — after ten or more trips up and down the beach — probably deserves to be retired.

Finally, more rain is forecast. I’m ready!

No, these are not in progress. They are finished. They are above the stairs, where no one sees them, and even though I have repeated sealed them, after water pouring down the wall inside during yesterday’s rain/wind storm I said enough! The goop I happened to have on hand is white.

They don’t even open. I intend to replace them with glass blocks eventually.

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.

 

Aguas Dulces after the storm

We had quite a storm here at the end of last month.

We returned today from Aguas Dulces. I normally don’t like to post lots of photos, but I think in this case they will help you appreciate its aftermath.

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016
From our friends’ deck. The lower right was their front yard.

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016
Neighbor on the left: front third of house gone.

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016
Neighbor on the right: no house anymore.

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016
Gone.

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016
Gone.

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016
Gone.

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016
Gone.

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016
Gone.

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016
Meet your new front yard.

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016
People scurrying in and out — salvaging furniture?

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016
Meet your new front yard.

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016
Meet your new front yard.

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016
Gone.

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016
Meet your new front yard.

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016
Meet your new front yard. Feel lucky.

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016

No doubt a lot of people feeling this way. But dunes are built by wind and waves, moved and removed by winds and waves, and wind and waves have little regard for your desire to live with a view of wind and waves.

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016

Meanwhile, the local “council” has suspended rubble cleanup after a court order. Seems they felt they could take into their own hands the destruction and removal of private buildings (on public land — ah, complicated).

The last big storm was 31 December, 1988. Expected storm surge is up to three meters. In this storm it was five meters above normal sea level.


Design Notebook

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016


On a lighter note, some imaginative decorations of other buildings in Aquas Dulces.

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016
The door on the right says NO ESTACIONAR — NO PARKING 😉

 

Spooky sunset

Spooky sunset, Atlántida, Uruguay

OK, Halloween was yesterday, but according to my wife, in Mexico the Day of the Dead includes today, so….

Weird weather lately. Evening yesterday we drove into Montevideo for her eye tests, for vision problems resulting from going abruptly to 3,800 meters (12,500′) when we flew to Cusco, Peru, in July. (We have lived at sea level for seven years.) Left eye: she has had damage to it before going back to 1973, but superficial, not macular “puckering” (I’m serious). For a little over USD 100 we got very sophisticated tomographic tests done with fancy image printouts. I don’t quite understand it all, but as usual — here — they hand you the results you have paid for. Just as you go away with the x-rays or MRI scans or whatever here. Because you paid for them, they’re yours. ¡Que concepto!

Halfway into Montevideo, we experienced a brutal and unusual hail storm — deafening, and no shelter to pull into. I was grateful the windshield didn’t break! But in fact the metal body of the car wasn’t dented either. So I guess it wasn’t that bad.

In the midst of it, however, I could only assume damage was being done.

And then it was over, and everything was sweetness and light again.

Beach after the storm

Our beach, after the storm that rendered it impassable a couple days ago.

Beach, Atlántida, Uruguay, after the big storm of 2016-10

Lots of trash, very wide, and where the dunes gently sloped, walls.

Beach, Atlántida, Uruguay, after the big storm of 2016-10

I didn’t walk up near the dunes, since a certain dog wants me throwing a stick into the water the entire time, but some of the cuts appear 3 m (10 ft) high.

Dead crab on beach, Atlántida, Uruguay, after the big storm of 2016-10

An unusually large dead crab — shell probably 12 cm (5″) across.

The storm hit worse, however, farther east.

October 2016 Uruguay cyclone

Fortunately our friends’ house in Aguas Dulces (Sweet Waters seems a tad ironic now) was not harmed, but it is reported that 50 houses were destroyed there. You can see one of them going down in this 12-second video).

Storm, Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, October 2016
Photo source, Aguas Dulces: “In 30 years, I’ve never seen anything like this.”

If you review my photos from Aguas Dulces in June 2015, you’ll sense my fascination with previously abandoned and destroyed habitations. Building at the edge of the sea involves risk.

Our friends had recently spent about USD 10,000 to install a complex system of boulders, plastic sheeting, and sand bags in front of their place to protect it. Had they not, they might not now have their California-dream ocean-front house.

We hope to go back soon with them (invited next weekend but have to hang around here, in hope window installers will show up). Meanwhile, I think I can safely assume that the first picturesque stilted house in my little photo essay will not present another photo op.