Monthly Archives: January 2013

Advertising is All Over

After the beach, Romina and I walked a bit around Montevideo and I couldn’t help but notice all of the advertising.

Romina and I met up with a friend of hers for lunch who was amazed that I had been on the beach for over a week and I was still pale in comparison.

Pale in Comparison

We headed to a posh area of town to visit this mall and I don’t know if my awareness was piqued or if there seemed to be so much more advertising than at home.

Signs like in New York advertising an upcoming movie or music release were plastered on every bit of scaffolding real estate around the city.

Leo Masliah

Logo look familiar? Hint: it’s a popular chewing gum brand in the US.

Beldent

At the mall — which used to be a former prison.

Punta Carretas

Dove covers the escalators with their advertising.

Dove

It appears that Visa is everywhere you want to be. Those signs ahead were plastered every twenty feet or so.

Visa

Why the warning to just the mom, I wondered?

Warning

High-end mate canisters for sale. Will get to the national obsession with mate and these colorful containers. Hint: I am a convert. I loved it.

More mate

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Arrival in Montevideo!

I took a bus from Minas to Montevideo. With Mariela’s number in my hand, I was able to purchase a calling card. She started to give me directions to her job but then said to give her 20 minutes and she’d meet me at the bus station. With 20 minutes to spare, I took a seat, wondering what awaited me!

Mariela arrived and I was so excited to see her! It was about rush hour so we hopped on a very crowded bus to her neighborhood, where high-rise apartments, shops and restaurants greeted me. Before we headed to her apartment we stopped in a bodega for some snacks.

We walked into her building, a doorman building, and dropped my bags in Mariela’s studio apartment. She invited me to do laundry (!) in the basement of her building and shower for dinner with Romina later that evening. Once showered, I felt like a brand new person. I even borrowed a dress from Mariela that I wore out to dinner, feeling so much prettier and nicer than my backpacker clothes! I was able to Skype with my family and charge my computer. I hadn’t even been using it but the battery was drained.

I called the US Embassy to find out about an English-speaking eye doctor and they told me to call back. Thanks. Mariela started to ask a few friends about an English-speaking eye doctor and we’d wait until the next day.

Since dinner wouldn’t be for hours, Mariela made us some mate and we enjoyed some snacks on her balcony.

One shot of the balcony view – straight ahead…

View from Mariela's Balcony

A view of her courtyard below…

The view down

Mariela’s spread prepared for snacking…

Our snacks
A delicious cheese find. Sure it’s cheese in a glass. But it was GOOD!

Conaprole the brand of cheese is actually one of the largest dairy brands in Uruguay. Compare them to a Kraft, but they are everywhere in the dairy section of the supermarket.

Cheese in a Jar. DELICIOUS.


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This time last year…

This time last year, nearly to the minute, I was enjoying my business class upgrade, enjoying fine wine and a nice dinner before drifting to sleep under a down comforter. I was headed to Buenos Aires to start my South American adventure.

I know I’m still taking my time telling my stories here on my blog, but all you have to know is that it was a decision I do not regret and there are some good stories, so stay tuned!

Even though I had shitty bus rides, bad nights of sleep and bouts of loneliness, I met wonderful people, tasted amazing food and experienced life as a local in more ways than I could have ever imagined.

With that said, and with freezing cold temperatures here in the Northeast US tonight, I wish I was headed back to South American summertime once again!!


I Wish I Packed Two More Pairs…

Before I left New York I had met three other solo female travelers leaving New York for various destinations in South America just a few days after me.

After one week, I sent them my advice from on the road and a couple of questions – one more urgent than the others, as you’ll see:

***

J – If you can, get another Eddie Bauer bag. Would be great to have a second. No need to duct tape logo, it peels off after three bus rides.

Day pack

Also, take less than you think you need. I did pack lightly and I still have too much. I also packed 8 pairs of underwear and have not been in a bathroom that is clean enough to wash my own underwear. Will definitely need to do a wash in MVD tomorrow. Wish I packed two more pairs.

C – Are are you in Santiago yet? I’m still in Uruguay but if you still want to do that weekend of the 10th in Vina im totally game. Soy sola Americana en Uruguay.

M – Please can you ask your family if they can recommend an English speaking eye doctor in Montevideo. I think I scratched my cornea the other day and am in pain. Have not been in a city yet so hoping to see a doc there. Will be in MVD for two nights I think. Muchas gracias!

Safe travels ladies. Hope to meet up with you soon!


Minas by way of Rocha and San Carlos

I got off the bus in Rocha and walked into the ticket shop. I asked for the bus to Minas and I was told I needed to go to San Carlos. The ticket seller rushed me through and ran me back outside to get my bus. The SAME bus I had just gotten off. So with my bag firmly under the bus I started up the steps to take my seat. Again.

I had a new seat assignment but my new friend saw me with a quizzical look and I shrugged. We both laughed and I settled in for the rest of my ride to San Carlos.

And this is where it got confusing. I needed to get another bus from San Carlos to Minas. After asking around for my bus, finally a woman took pity on my and told me we would travel to Minas together.

I spent less than 18 hours in Minas. I stayed with a Couch Surfing couple who were very kind, and I slept on a mattress in their spare bedroom. We talked for hours and around midnight they asked what I wanted for dinner. The glass of wine I had at 9p would hold me over. They started cooking around 1am and I excused myself and went to bed.

They had warned me that they weren’t morning people so in the morning, I left to explore the town. I figured I did not want to leave without saying goodbye, I should see the town and then head onto Montevideo, where I was anxious to meet up with Romina, Mariela and hopefully an eye doctor! After I spent some time wandering the town, I was given a lift on the moto to the bus station — I was assured it was the only way I’d make the next bus out. So with my eyes shut, I settled in for my second moto ride in Uruguay!

Here are some pictures from my time in Minas…

The center of town…

Minas Town Square

This was a museum under a candy store. It was noted in my guidebook but the museum may have held the record for smallest museum. I actually stayed about three minutes, two minutes longer than it took to have a look around. Upstairs in the candy shop, I was able to buy a bottle of liquor for my hosts. Liquor, candy, I guess it’s all the same.

Minas Museum Under a Candy Shop

On my walk, this was a casino. The door was propped open and I had popped my head in and this was off a residential street.

Gorgeous Architecture

A Casino on a Residential Street

My host drove me back on the moto to the bus station. The second helmet was mine.

The Moto we took to the bus station

En route to Montevideo!!


A Surprise at the Bus Stop

After my 4×4 ride back to the road, I crossed the street to the bus stop bench where I saw one other person waiting. I wanted to make sure I was at the right place so I asked, in Spanish, if he was waiting for a bus to take him west.

Tickets

In English he told me yes. I should clarify, he answered in American English! I had been in Uruguay nearly one week and this was the first American I met. Being that I had just been a little homesick it was nice to hear an American accent.

We introduced ourselves — he was from Colorado and finishing up three months of travel in South America before heading home in a few days.

I told him he was the first American that I met since I arrived in Uruguay nearly a week ago. He did not seem surprised.

We chatted about South America and traveling and why we each chose to explore the continent solo.

He had worked his was from the north to finish up in the south while I would be heading south to north. He told me that depending on where I wound up, I’d hit parts of the backpacker trail. I mentioned that after Colonia, most of Uruguay seemed to be off the beaten path. He laughed and then told me that where we currently were, was off the radar and we weren’t even on a path, much less the backpacker one!

Let me back up a second. Part of my intentions of traveling off the beaten path was to meet locals, not Americans, but after my personal pity party for one earlier in the day, it felt so nice to talk in English without worrying about double meanings or how to explain something in Spanish. We could just talk. And talk we did — for almost an hour. (Good thing I got the fluent English out of my system because it would be another week until I would be speaking English to native English speakers again).

We chatted until the bus arrived and we happened to have bus tickets with seat numbers assigned next to each other so we continued to chat.

We talked about the guard versus co-pilot on the buses, the obsession with mate and assigned seats are serious business here.

We spoke in English until I had to get off the bus in Rocha to buy my connecting ticket. We bid adieu. I grabbed my bags from the belly of the bus so I could sort out my onward bus ticket to Minas.