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Posts Tagged ‘Montevideo’

This is a photo of one of many small restaurants inside the Mercado del Puerto. All of the separated restaurants have an open, wood fueled, grill like this one where most of the cooking takes place.

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This is the chunk of loin I was served. Alexis had a rack of lamb with at least ten chops. The meat portions were gigantic, but tender and tasty, a carnivore’s kind of place.

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We saw several of these horse-drawn carts while out and about in the city. Although there is full employment in Uruguay, jobs for anyone who wants to work, one sees people going through dumpsters to salvage paper, cardboard, plastic bottles, and other recyclables. The horses are very calm amidst the heavy, fast moving, car, bus and truck traffic. Lane markers seem to be just a suggestion with two lanes accommodating at least three vehicles, more lanes more vehicles. Horns are used to let other drivers know where you are.

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Out in the countryside horse-drawn carts are even more common and are used to transport goods short distances. It is obviously much less expensive than gasoline that sells for about $8.00 a gallon. The high price of gasoline also accounts for the small size of the automobiles, although we did see plenty of Mercedes and other luxury vehicles. Protected parking space is also a premium and we saw many houses with just enough room to squeeze the car inside the security gate.

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Most but not all houses in the city were guarded by high security, walls topped with wire or broken glass, or tall spiked bars topped with electric fences, windows covered with bars and/or heavy shutters.

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The yellow sign warns of the charged wires above the ten-foot tall spiked fence.

We asked about all the security and received a variety of answers. It appears that violent crime, including home invasions, is rare. There is some breaking and entering and stealing from vacation homes when it is clear the owners are away. Mostly, we were told, the crime rates are quite low but when there is a crime the news media tend to sensationalize it and thus there is a high level of paranoia. This paranoia is fed and encouraged by a home security industry that seems quite robust. We talked to some home and business owners with lower levels of security and they seemed to be unafraid and unconcerned. Certain areas are considered to have higher crime rates than others, so that’s not unlike our own neighborhoods, but we did see a lot of security.

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We discovered veterinary medicine in Uruguay is alive and well. Their College of Veterinary Medicine was started in the second decade of the 20th Century, and is part of the Universidad de la Republica, the National University. It is the only veterinary school in the country. We discovered it while on one of our extended neighborhood walks, an easy twenty-minute amble from our hotel

Here is a photo of my bearded self with the sign for the veterinary school.

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After meeting and talking to both students and faculty I discovered all education in Uruguay is free. Primary school for six years, secondary school for another six then a choice between a variety of trade schools or university. I neglected to find out if that choice is determined by an examination, as it is in Europe, or is just a choice by the student. Entrance to veterinary school is directly from secondary school and it is open enrollment. Anyone who graduates from secondary school, on the academic track, is admitted if they apply. Currently anywhere from three to six hundred students enter the program each year. The two faculty members I talked to both said they never know until the first day of school how many students will be present. The second year they lose quite a few students by failing exams or giving up but still have a heavy load for faculty. Each year the number of students who manage to stay in the program decreases and after five years plus one more year of “thesis” work they usually graduate about a hundred students with a dual degree in veterinary medicine and animal husbandry. The “thesis” work involves doing a project, sometimes what we would call research, and writing a paper about what they accomplished.

The good news is there is full employment for the graduate veterinarians. During our extended walking tours in Montevideo, usually four or more hours each day, we seldom go more than eight to ten blocks without encountering a veterinary clinic, almost always associated with a pet store and boarding facility. We have not seen a pet dog here that was not well cared for. Even the street dogs and cats appear to be in reasonably good shape. Many of the veterinary students find work in the agricultural industry, family farms and ranches that they go home to manage, large agribusiness companies that employ them as managers, plenty of small and large dairy farms both cattle and goats, that provide employment in addition to the pet practices, “mascots” they call them.

Dr. Rodolfo Ungerfeld is the Head of the Department of Physiology. A very kind and friendly Reproductive Physiologist who does some interesting work

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Here I am with Professor Ungerfeld on my right and one of his graduate students on my left.

One of his many project involves reproduction problems in Pampas Deer, a species that used to number in the hundreds of thousands in Uruguay and is now down to only a few thousand. A herd of several hundred are kept in La Reserva de Flora y Fauna del Cerro Pan de Azucar, a zoo/reserve near Sugarloaf Mountain. Pan de Azucar is the third tallest mountain in Uruguay, about 500 or 600 feet above sea level). The place is only a couple of hours from Montevideo by car so we rented one and took a road trip.

Here is one of the tiny but magnificent Pampas Deer.

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We also walked part way up the mountain and got an overview of the reserve.

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The other faculty member I had a productive afternoon with is Professor Alejandro Benech. He is in charge of the small animal clinic but taught cardiovascular and respiratory physiology for many years and does some interesting research on ischemia/reperfusion injury of the heart using a sheep model. From the data he showed me he could be looking at some very important results.

We only have three more days to enjoy Montevideo and we plan to make the most of them. My new friends have graciously invited me to return and give some lectures to their graduate students. We couldn’t do it this trip because next week the whole country shuts down for “Easter Week”. They call it “Tourist Week” because of the serious legal separation between church and state. I hope I will be able to return and give those lectures.

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Here is another photo of the band and dancers we saw on our visit to the Mercado del Puento described in my last posting:

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The music and dancing is called Candombe originating with African slaves it has become part of the culture and heritage of Uruguay. The style of music features three different drums, chico, repique and piano. Candombe refers to dancing societies founded by persons of African descent in the third decade of the 19th century. The term is from the Kikongo language and means “pertaining to blacks”. The dance originated as a local Montevidean fusion of various African traditions. It features complicated choreography including sections with wild rhythms, a plethora of improvised and intricate steps combined with energetic body movement. Each year there is a special parade in Montevideo called “Desfile de Llamadas”, that winds through the Sur and Palermo neighborhoods with prizes awarded for the best new song (music), dancers, costumes, etc., etc. We are told it is very competitive with many different categories so there are lots of winners and lots of entries. Got to get back here to see it!

This is one of many Sycamore-lined street we’ve walked down, …some up. We were told there are well over 400,000 trees in Montevideo, one for every three inhabitants.

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Here’s a friend we made while walking through the all but overwhelming granite and marble monuments of the Buceo Cemetery, a weird mix of a short-hair and long-hair.

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Here is a worker power-washing the side of a skyscraper a couple of blocks from our hotel.

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