Fake Croc Mods

This is a pair of fake Crocs my wife bought at Géant for a few bucks. They turned out to be just a half size too small for comfort.

fake Crocs

And she prefers open-toed shoes for summer.

modified fake Crocs

All it took was a few minutes with a razor blade and voilà!

Do they sell razor blades in Uruguay? I have no idea. I almost didn’t bring these from the United States. I’ll explain.

When we flew to New York in 2012 for my niece’s wedding in Connecticut, we had offered to bring an absurd amount of stuff back to Uruguay for people.* My last-minute packing operation occupied a significant part of my sister’s living room floor. I kept reassigning goods to different suitcases. It took a while, but finally everything fit.

But just before we headed out the door for the airport, I suddenly realized I needed one more item reassignment…

…because going through airport security with two box cutters and 100 razor blades in my carry-on bag didn’t seem like something that was going to end well.


*no more!


I sometimes think this country’s motto should be Welcome to Uruguay. Please take a number. Because everywhere you go, you take a number. Even in the feria, the street market.

number dispenser

Overall, it’s a good thing. I recall my nephew’s amazement at the civility of our ferias, compared to their chaos in Guatemala, where he taught at an international school.

In the local ferretería (hardware store), where everyone knows my name, I have for years responded “42” and waved my paper in the air when the clerk calls out my actual number, which is of course never 42.

Alas, inquiring about property taxes in the intendencia the other day, I did get number 42. But there was no line, and no number called out, no number to turn in. What a waste!


So why 42, you wonder? Glad you asked.


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.



Expo Cannabis 2017

Uruguay “sort of” legalized marijuana at the end of 2013. Being a place where free-market is generally considered a bad thing, and government somehow a creator of wealth, the experiment has proceeded with predictable ham-fisted bureaucracy. The government controls all production, licenses growers and buyers, limits the amount they can buy in a month, etc. At present there are maybe 16 pharmacies (all in Montevideo AFAIK) where one can buy marijuana, and they have had their bank accounts closed because of the ham-fisted and arrogant United States federal government. This echoes the contradiction between state and federal laws in the U.S.: marijuana is legal in California and Nevada, but if you transport it across the border you’re committing a federal offense.

However, there is good news: Hemp Planting to Triple in Uruguay. And the Expo Cannabis has gone from rinky-dink three years ago (according to Syd) to quite impressive.

Expo Cannabis 2017 display map

As you might guess, most of the crowd was younger than yours truly.

Expo Cannabis 2017

The first display inside the door showed a variety of products including hemp oil, and dog care products that Syd really wanted to buy. Not for sale? It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize the display was for the Museo del Cannabis Montevideo.

Flyer for Montevideo, Uruguay Cannabis Museum

Nearby, a display of plants.

Examining marijuana plants, Expo Cannabis in Montevideo, Uruguay

We quickly noticed a number of booths had hydraulic presses. We were a bit mystified, then watched a demonstration of extracting cannabis oil with heat and pressure — far safer than using toxic solvents, which then have to be boiled off.

Extracting cannabis oil

Many booths were selling seeds and growing apparatus, and the government was there with a booth where you could register with the authorities. Several booths centered on medicine and healing, as did a number of the presentations/panel discussions.

Uruguay marijuana sign up

I started asking questions about seeds when I saw “AUTO“ in some of their names (autofloreciente). Fascinating stuff.

handouts from Uruguay Expo Cannabis 2017

My only regret is that I didn’t ask more questions, because in the car on the way back, discussing what we had seen, we had plenty more.








At the taller

While in the States in September, I got to thinking about the pobre Meriva, as our worker referred to our Chevy minivan after seeing the loads it carried. (I wanted to get a four-door pickup when we arrived in Uruguay; wife nixed that idea.) We got it in early 2010. Paint’s fading, windshield best replaced because of scratches from volcanic ash from Chile a few years ago. But it runs well, and the prospect of shopping for anything in Uruguay is generally dreary. So when I got back, I got some repairs done: replaced the serpentine belt in the engine at 90,000 km (supposed to have been changed at 45,000), body pained, and maybe the windshield one day soon.

Quite a few weeks after the paint job, I noticed the strip between the top of the doors and the roof was looking pretty bad.

incomplete car paint job
I’ve been parking inside. This after just a few weeks?

I took it back to the shop (taller) and showed it to the owner. He walked around the car. Whoever painted it simply skipped that area. No problem, he said. Of course, to finish the job will now take another three (Uruguay: read four) days.

While waiting in the garage, I became fascinated with the packaging of a replacement door.

replacement car door cardboard packaging

The strings aren’t added afterward. They’re an integral part of the design. They wrap around little round plastic fasteners.

cardboard package string fasteners

What an elegant (in the engineering sense) solution!