Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Montevideo, Uruguay

Saturday, February 11, 2012 – late arrival to Montevideo, Uruguay

After not much sleep, we had set the alarm for scenic cruising at 7AM and had the TV switched on the channel for the front of the ship. So we saw an incredible sunrise but no announcements about scenic cruising. So we dozed. Finally at 9AM, the Captain came on to explain that we were approx. 5 hours late. Since we were delayed an hour last night on departure, as waited for the last buses from the charter flights to Iguazu Falls, we had missed our slot in the “convoy” to leave the port and had been anchored for 5+ hours during the middle of the night. Therefore, we had missed our spot in the next convoy to get to Montevideo and there were 20+ ships in (Rosario), a port city, that had been waiting for over 2 weeks to dock due to an incident at that port. All that affected our arrival time so we were now scheduled to arrive at 1PM. Bummer.

But there were clear blue skies with a hot sun and a pleasant wind as we docked right in the center of the city. Regent Mariner ship was right next door and we were surrounded by the freighters and container ships. Gene hosted a city tour and J and I sat on the Lido Deck and had a nice lunch at sail-in. Tours at the port were offered for $25 for a 3 hour city tour. Free WIFI was right outside the port gate with no password needed.
J and I got in the free shuttle to the leather factory (Montevideo Leather Factory – at Plaza Constitution and near the Radisson) and rode the oldest, creakiest elevator up to see the fabulously soft leather goods. The elevator even had an alarm on it- if you entered too slowly, it sounded like a burglar alarm!! Nothing purchased there so we were off to find a beauty shop. We met a nice young couple and they found us a cab and directed us to a nearby street where they may be open- it was Saturday afternoon and most shops were closed. One did haircuts for $4 but no nails. Too bad…the other did it for $7 but no nails. Next one won: nails and hair cuts. So we waited and waited. We had forgotten to ask how long the wait would be. And never have I seen hair dried so slowly or styled so carefully or a manicure take so long – cut, trim, soak and paint. And the hair wash – the lady had just had her hair colored and then they proceeded to wash it for over ½ an hour!! It was a real lesson for me. I had forgotten how the Latin women love to take care of themselves. It is their time for themselves.

Anyway, finally J and I had our haircuts and he did a good job. Cut, trim, shape, razor cut, scissor cut…he did it all. And then blow dry. And in the end there was no time to get her nails done -- wouldn’t you know it!? Anyway, they took off the old polish and we can work it from there. My cut is completely different, short on the sides and long on the top – perhaps I needed a change. Maria Jose Gonzalez, Rio Branco 1414, ph 2908 4047
The store owners were very helpful and called a cab to take us to the ship – apparently you have to be careful on which company you use and which car. This driver was so excited to be near the ship that he took a photo of it and then I took two photos of him with the ship; made his day!

I waited outside by some WWII machinery for Gene to return from his tour and then we went off exploring. Walked up the pedestrian street, listened to the local music in the cultural center, found the Plaza Matriz/Constitution, Plaza Zabala, the cathedral and met Marcel, a nice older gentleman in a wine shop (Bombonier at Peatonal Sarandi 649) who had dated a woman in Wilmington, DE. We had a nice talk about which city we preferred - - Buenos Aires, the larger more cosmopolitan city OR Montevideo, the smaller city with the beach. He made an interesting comment: “Those big cities, like LA…they rob you of your life. You spend so much time commuting you don’t have time to live life.” Think about it.
Montevideo is the chief port, capital and largest city in Uruguay and the only city in this country with a population of over 1,000,000. The majority of the population is of Spanish and Italian descent and the African influence can be seen in much of the cultural aspects of the city. The very first FIFA World Cup (soccer) was held in Montevideo in 1930 and Uruguay won by defeating Argentina 4-2.

Wonderful walk back to the ship. Was nice to have time to walk on our own and also have time to get the hair cut.

We had a nice buffet on the outside deck in the back of the ship and it was a beautiful sail-away. All the freighters were unloading and the tugs were pulling and pushing us out of the narrow slip. Just at sunset, 8:30, we were on our way. It was nice to be able to sit outside, not worry about getting dressed for dinner and to enjoy the city and ships and lights all around us. Need to do this more often.

I did not even worry about missing the show. Also knew there was another one at 10PM, so I was safe there!

Clear night with 75 degrees and we could see 21 ships on the port side and 11 ships on the starboard side. Wow. The full moon is sliding away.

Emily Reed, singer from the UK, was the entertainer.
We moved our clocks forward an hour so we are now THREE hours ahead of Delaware.

Sunday, February 12, 2012 – at sea
Weather was absolutely perfect – 75 degrees and a gentle wind. What a nice day. Worked most of the morning and then had a wonderful lunch on the back verandah with friends. Enjoyed a class in Portuguese offered by a fellow passenger who taught for 30+ years. Never hurts to learn the basics as you enter a new country.

Just found my notes from the Antarctica follow-up:
On our first day of scenic cruising, visibility was 1/10 of a mile. Not much to see that day! Fish won’t freeze and their blood is white/clear. We were 1380 miles from the South Pole. Latitude 65 degrees 23. Longest life span of some penguins – King penguins at 15-20 years and 45 pounds. Emperor penguins weigh up to 90 pounds. Adelie penguins live 15-18 years. Some skua birds fly five day to fee in Brazil. When we did not dock in Ushuaia, Argentina, the wind was 20-25 knots and the Coast Guard determined it was not safe for us to dock as the tenders were too light.

Formal night and we went to the Cupid Ball with all the officers in the showroom.
“When you are old and gray and full of sleep
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep:
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true;
But on man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.
And bending down beside the glowing bars
Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And his face amid a crowd of stars.” – WB Yeats

Monday, February 13, 2012 – at sea
Cloudy day and humidity is in the air. Classes, lunch with friends on the outer verandah, entertainment by Emily Reed and Shirley Dominguez. Nap time. Portuguese lesson. Computer work.

For the DID YOU KNOW section: “STOP DIDYMO”. Look this up. Seriously, just found the flyer I picked up from Chile and this is an algae commonly known as “rock snot” that attaches to rocks and forms thick brown mats that cover large areas in the bottoms of rivers and lakes, and tend to persist to several months. This algae spread easily, it is highly invasive in a short period of time and rapidly turns into a plague. It was reported in Vancouver Island, since 1984, and in parts of the US, in South Dakota it was found across an area of 10 km during months. The human factor has been the main cause of the spread of didymo to other rivers or streams.

“I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within.” - Lillian Smith