A Travellerspoint blog

Uruguay

MONTEVIDEO, URUGUAY

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sunny 80 °F
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In Montevideo, Uruguay, folks say the name of their country something like “your-way.” The Your-wayans are wonderful. The country is progressive, beautiful and has a healthy economy. The tower of the legislative office building is held up by twenty-four (granite) women! Palacio Salvo fascinates. We visited the central market (terribly upscale), the Presidential Museum (the memorabilia of another country’s Presidents aren’t terribly fascinating), many monuments to national heroes, and a famous bar restaurant called Facal. After lunch, we joined a group of about twenty folks gathered on the sidewalk to watch street tango. After “Don Juan” whirled his partner around, he looked to the audience and held out his hands. One of our group from the Whisper joined him to dance. She was amazingly talented (and surprise – a professional tango dancer from Argentina) and delighted everyone but Don’s original partner. Finally, we trooped through the Carnaval Museum (costumes, costumes, costumes) and the Port Market. We are really looking forward to the two sea days ahead. But last night our suite was filled with sacks of parkas, boots, etc. and the lecture schedule today is filled with things like “Intro to Expeditions” so we imagine our attention will shift from empanadas to ice bergs.

Posted by HopeEakins 04:28 Archived in Uruguay Comments (0)

PUNTA DEL ESTE, URUGUAY

Vacation City!

sunny 75 °F
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Punta del Este is lovely. Uruguay’s premiere resort city is beautiful, immaculate, filled with brilliant flowers, sleek yachts, and NICE people. Here are three examples of niceness:
1. When Hope pulled a map from her pocket, her key card (that looks just like a credit card) fell out. A young man ran after us for a block to return it.
2. Bill left his phone on the restaurant table after lunch. The waiter followed us and handed it back to him.
3. We went to a ferriera (?) to get a new rubber tip for Bill’s walking stick. No one spoke English there, and our Spanish is a little weak, but we pointed and a clerk went “in the back” and came out with a box of rubber tips. One fit! We had only Brazilian and American money and a credit card. The clerk shook her head. Then she took an American dollar from us and gave us a fist full of change in Uruguayan dollars. (After figuring out the exchange rate, we can tell you that rubber tips are retty cheap in Uruguay: $0.41.)

The beach is long and beautiful and marked by a stunning sculpture called Dedos here and Hand in the Sand by English speakers. The photo only shows a few fingers, but from afar it really looks like fingers waved by someone buried far, far down. The statue depicted here is the father of the country who looks like he will topple over if you sneeze at him. But he stayed on his pedestal while we were there.

We saw jellyfish waving their tentacles beneath our veranda, a huge sea lion at the tender landing, and birds soaring around us (we haven’t had enough ornithology lectures to identify them yet). The sun made everything sparkle and sea breezes kept us cool. All in all, this is a very attractive place.

Posted by HopeEakins 13:18 Archived in Uruguay Comments (1)

EXPEDITION AHEAD

Of ships and Zodiacs

sunny 79 °F
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Life aboard the Silver Whisper has changed. A twenty-one person expedition team has arrived to prepare us and the ship for the Antarctic part of our adventure. They look different; they are younger and very fit. They speak with enthusiasm, extensive knowledge, and conviction. They have loads of equipment with them, hoses, parkas, and odd shaped boxes.

Our lectures and amusements used to be delivered by people like our friend Michael Buerck, BBC anchor newsman and raconteur extraordinaire. Now glaciologists and ornithologists and cetologists give lectures and our heads start to spin. We have been taught about light v. heavy water in ice core samples, about the differences between albatrosses and petrels, about penguins and passerines (perching birds) and, of course whales and seals. The expedition team absolutely loves their subjects, and they are determined to make us just as excited as they are.

Outside our veranda, Zodiacs sail by, practicing for the adventure ahead. The little boats get hoisted from the ship’s bow on a huge crane and once in the sea, nuzzle in to be loaded from a tiny platform. Today the temperature is in the high seventies and we face the gorgeous beach of Punta del Este (Uruguay), and this embarkation looks difficult. How it will work when we are on the ice sheets makes us just a little bit anxious.

One of our suitcases sits under the bed filled with mittens and long underwear and heavy socks and wet pants and hats and scarves. Soon we’ll put the bathing suits away for a while. We are hoping that the notorious Drake Passage which is known for fierce storms will be the Drake Lake when we sail through its 500 miles to the Antarctic ice shelf.

Posted by HopeEakins 11:22 Archived in Uruguay Comments (0)

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