My oversized ego makes me believe this first separation from Charlize has made her very sad. When I left her with the young couple who agreed to care for her while we are gone she was so busy investigating their home and their two cats she didn’t seem to notice when I left. A text message the next day, with a photo of her enjoying herself, indicated she is doing just fine without me. Predictably, I miss her more than she misses me.
Alexis and I are adventuring in Argentina and Uruguay. We flew from Seattle to Dallas the morning of March 10 then from Dallas to Buenos Aires, arriving the next morning. Alexis visited Buenos Aires in 1989 so we spent two days revisiting sites and places she had been and remarking on all the changes. I’m getting along reasonably well with what is left of the Spanish I learned during the twelve months my young family and I spent in Mexico City forty-eight years ago. I manage to make myself understood in most situations and with the help of a Spanish/English dictionary I’m starting to remember vocabulary and even some conjugations, but my rough efforts do bring some puzzled frowns and indulgent smiles. Most of the people I try to talk to are happy I am making the effort to speak their language and even when their English is much better than my Spanish, they are patient with me.
The people of Uruguay seem much more relaxed, friendly and patient than those we encountered in Buenos Aires. The latter is a busy, big city whose inhabitants display the same attitudes toward strangers as I have encountered in New York, London, Paris and other big cities. The entire population of Uruguay is only about 3.5 million people and Montevideo seems smaller than Seattle.
Here is Alexis visiting with two immobile new friends in Buenos Aires.
We took the ferry from Buenos Aires, an hour-long trip across the huge estuary of the Rio de la Plata to Colonia del Sacramento. Colonia was founded in 1680 by the Portuguese Governor of Rio de Janeiro as a headquarters for the smuggling of manufactured items. This was done to counteract the monopoly run by the Spanish rulers of Argentina and Buenos Aires to control the importation of these goods. After leaving the ferry we took a two and a half hour bus ride to Montevideo, a good way to get a feel for the agricultural economy of eastern Uruguay. We passed many small dairy farms. It’s early fall here and some crops are just starting to ripen. It was also interesting to see date palms, evergreen trees and Eucalyptus trees all growing in close proximity.
The plan for the next couple of weeks is to return to our comfortable hotel in the Buceo neighborhood of Montevideo each evening. We are only a couple of blocks from the Puerto del Buceo, a marina with a small beach. The plan is to return each evening. after day trips to various locations in this wonderful country. For the past four days we have wandered around the city, mostly walking and trying to meet and enter into conversation with residents. Saturday we were in the Ciudad Vieja, the old city, in the Mercado del Puerto. Crowded into an amazing wrought-iron superstructure is an even more amazing collection of parillas, relatively inexpensive restaurants that specialize in grilled meats, huge portions of grilled meats. This particular place on Saturday afternoons, we arrived about 3:00 PM, is filled with artists, craftspeople, musicians and a few, but not too many, tourists this time of year. Crowds of artistic folks were eating lots of meat, drinking wine and beer and having fun. Many joined the festivities created by a street band of youngsters playing and dancing.
The band consisted of an older gentleman, in the blue shirt, playing the trumpet, three teenaged drummers, the youngest no more than thirteen, two beautiful young ladies in bikini’s and high heels dancing and a leader who played tambourines and collected from the appreciative crowd.