Happy day in Uruguay

This is the third world cup since we’ve lived in Uruguay. While previous ones have been exciting, I was never impressed with the actual playing. Not so this year in Russia. Today Uruguay beat Portugal to move to the quarter-finals, and though I only watched the second half,* it was fine playing. Especially, from my viewpoint, considering how Portugal’s shots on goal almost all went spectacularly wide or high. The Uruguay defense was fabulous, and both its goals were scored, not by superstar Luis Suárez, but by Edinson Cavani. Of course a joint effort: the two strikers are quite amazing together.

Screen shot from FIFA site

Since I haven’t been walking with Syd lately because of training issues with my dogs, I subsequently took them to our chacra (mini farm) and walked the property. This gave them a chance to run around like crazy in the muddy fields, splash into the stream, and further the transition of our new Renault Duster from “new car” smell to “wet dog” smell. Whatever.

When we returned to Atlántida, I had to go on side streets because the main road was still choked — almost two hours after the game — with cars full of people waving flags and blaring horns.

Uruguay next faces France, the leader in terms of salaries of players on the national team: USD 1.1 billion versus Uruguay USD 330 million or so. France advanced to the quarters after beating Argentina 4-3. I can’t speak for Uruguayans, but I think there might be a little schadenfreude at seeing Argentina eliminated.

When the game started, I was trying to collect yet another Western Union transfer I had sent myself. I heard the first goal — seven minutes in — on the radio while waiting for an inexplicable 15 minute delay from them. Then WU cancelled my transfer inexplicably. And locked me out of their site, and claimed-to but didn’t send me a chance to reset my password. I called them, then emailed a section with no phone access, for an explanation. I hate to come across as a grumpy old bastard, but after the recent experiences with Mercado Libre (previous posts), I’m getting pretty fed up with business that promise but don’t deliver. Add Western Union to the shit list.

Situational awareness (lack thereof)

I was talking with a woman in the feria (street market) yesterday, who wanted to know where I was from and what I thought of Uruguay. It’s very tranquilo, she said, a common theme and indeed what made the country so attractive to us, especially after the noise and chaos of Mexico.

But there’s a flip side to that tranqui attitude, which is a lack of situational awareness. People block the entrance and exit of the supermarket as they stop to chat, completely unaware of anyone else; drivers at speed follow the car before them at a distance of 1/2 second, guaranteeing catastrophe should anything unexpected occur; pedestrians step into the street and then look to see if there might be approaching traffic.

And I don’t know if this is uniquely Uruguayan — I can imagine it’s more a Latin American thing — there are the supermarket aisles. More than once I’ve tempted to tap the shoulder of a Tienda Inglesa employee stocking shelves, and point out that if they moved their shopping cart just 20 cm this way they could block the entire aisle, instead of just 75% of it. But alas, sarcasm is not a thing here.

Here’s a recent gem.


A store employee has lost interest in stocking shelves, and despite the wide aisles of Tienda Inglesa (unlike Disco), manages to leave the shopping cart in exactly the place where it can maximally obstruct traffic. The fact that the store was relatively empty at the time might have influenced this “thinking.”

But more likely, there was simply no thinking at all. Just wandered off to some other task, or mate break, or ….


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.”


The coin nobody wants

I got two coins in my change last Thursday at the feria. They are the same diameter, though one is slightly thinner.

the thoroughly unloved Uruguayan 50-peso coin

Here the thinner one is on the left. It’s quite plain, not at all distinctive, and just looks cheap compared to the one on the right.

the thoroughly unloved Uruguayan 50-peso coin

When you flip them over, the distinctive one clearly states its value. The other you really have to take into bright light (as I did for the picture) in order to read.

the thoroughly unloved Uruguayan 50-peso coin

Yes, that wretched coppery coin is worth FIVE TIMES the other.

Normally I get rid of them in the very next transaction, so normally I would not have one to show, but this was from my last purchase of the day.

Is it just me? I asked the cleaning girl today when she arrived. No, she confirmed, everyone hates them.

Issued in 2011, it says Bicentenario de los hechos historicos. Which means (drum roll, please) Bicentennial of historic events. What events? They’re not saying.

It’s not the first 50 peso coins, but at least the others clearly stated their denomination.

It’s an idiotic coin, produced by idiots. I will pass this one on this afternoon, when I stop by the butcher’s.

Update: done.