Author: Doug

Back to the beach

I haven’t been to the beach with Benji frequently since we started walking with Syd and his five dogs in the wastelands (literally) of Villa Argentina norte. Variety of reasons: conversations with Syd tend to be considerably more interesting than conversations with Benji; Benji usually gets more sustained running given all the other dogs including rabbit scout Jordy; and I don’t have to throw a stick into the waves 20 or 30 times in succession.

But from time to time I am reminded of the age-honored saying that location is everything.

As in, we encounter no cows on the beach.

This was Benji yesterday, halfway through our walk. It may be just the exaggerated olfactory experience, but Syd and both thought Benji stayed closer to us for the rest of the walk than he ever has before. Excruciatingly close. Being able to see and not smell this, I must say he achieved a remarkable extent of coverage.

After two soap bath yesterday evening, and 20-30 plunges into the waves to retrieve a stick, it was only after he dried off that our living room didn’t smell like a barn.

So, what’s new on the beach?

I have posted before about the boardwalks that were poorly designed and maintenance-free. Now in Las Toscas (we live on the border) appears one built with posts that extend vertically to a metal handrail. Progress!

Meanwhile, at the end of Calle 3B, the boardwalk solution (B) has become unusable, while problem it addressed (A) has grown 2-3 times larger.

Seen from the other side: the boardwalk (B) is completely buried, while beyond (A) the dunes are completely blown away because of traffic through the gap.

Coming back from the beach, I note a number of wine cartons at the overflowing recycling bin — all with corks carefully replaced. Which means that someone at the recycling center will have to remove them, one by one, so the glass can be recycled.

Over the past couple months, trucks have dumped dirt at the park we pass through on the way back. Red arrows mark the vertical poles that are all that remains of the goal posts. The person who cuts the grass has carefully mowed around the mound of dirt (and rubble).

Is it to fix the field? Ya veremos — we’ll see.



Christmas bagels

We don’t do anything special for Christmas (except attend our neighbors’ lovely afternoon food fest). I mentioned to my wife that she normally hangs red ornaments on our ficus tree, at least. She reminded me we have a fast-growing puppy who probably find them great fun to attack. Good point.

We’re also not Jewish.

But in the country we came from, bagels are ubiquitous, and in Uruguay they’re nonexistent. Well, except for one place in Montevideo owned by an American. There’s a place called Donut Shop that advertises bagels but makes — well, you decide.

So she asked the food processor and bread-object specialist (that would be me), to make bagels.

First attempt at homemade bagels

Obviously I’m low on the learning curve, but they were delicious with cream cheese, smoked salmon,1 organic tomatoes and red onions.

Plus, always a treat in Uruguay, the taste made us feel we were somewhere else, somewhere one has a choice of tastes. Restaurants are gradually getting better here, offering variety. One nearby puts the old Uruguayan standbys like chivitos and milanesas under the heading, “Lo de Siempre,” the ‘always available’ stuff. I take that as a good sign. But I can still have fun tormenting recent North American arrivals by asking them what’s their favorite Thai restaurant in Uruguay.2


unfortunately from Chile, but that’s all we’ve got

2 I haven’t been, but expect Konichi-Wa Sushi y Asian Gourmet is not really Thai

Self checkout

A few days ago I was in the Disco supermarket here (yes, the one with the shopping cart idiocy), and was surprised to see that they’ve installed four self-checkout stations. This is old stuff up north, but not thirty years old as the Uruguay jokes go, so maybe the country is catching up faster?

When I went to the wait-for-a-number cashiers, I noticed there were six (seven?) instead of the previous four. Well, that’s good. Except the new number-display is farther away and the numbers appear to be smaller. I couldn’t make out which cashier to go to. No problem; the appropriate cashier waved his arm. He also thought it was amusing.

I asked him when all of this happened.

“Two days ago,” he told me.

Disco supermarket self-checkout
Ready attendant, but no one to whom to attend

Which pretty much explains why nobody was using them.

Fast forward to this morning — Christmas Eve, and the predictable jam-packed shopping crowd — and suddenly quite a few people thought these were an OK idea. Myself included.



Sad, pathetic people

Generally, I try to keep things here upbeat. But walking daily in a sprawling area whose owner or owners are unknown, that is sometimes difficult.

Consider this: from one day to another, a dumped load of furniture and windows appears in the middle of nowhere.

open air dump, Uruguay

They could have left all of this near a trash container. They could have left some of it near a recycling container. Instead they just dump it carelessly. In fact, I would argue contemptuously, since they managed to smash at least one of the windows.

open air dump, Uruguay

It’s not a spot where other stuff has been dumped. There are several of those. No, just a new, random location.

Update — per Syd comment. I took a marker with me on our walk today. The person who did this might pass by again, might not. But anyone who does will read it:

cerdo humano, Uruguay

“Left by a human pig.” Play on ser humano, which means “human being.”