Woken by the alarm at 4.30 am and gone before 5.30. Back to the Buquebus ferry terminal of yesterday, but unlike 24 hours before, today I have left Argentina (until after the Antarctic trip) for Montevideo the capital of Uruguay. I noticed that the migraciones practices were not thorough yesterday and I hoped all would be well for me today, particularly if I could do a Buenos Dias at the right time to distract. That is, yesterday the sign at the return from Colonia told me to get rid of any knives etc and then and only then did I remember I had my wonderful fold up tiny knife in my backpack. The Hola worked yesterday and today I knew I had nail clippers, scissors and the knife. Did the same and smiles all around and I was through the luggage scanner process. Really very relaxed. Obviously, no terrorists down here; too far from the epicentre of such unpleasantness.
Today’s ferry was much larger and without a full crowd of passengers, it seemed very spacious. Appalling dirty windows so almost impossible to see Buenos Aires on departure and Montevideo on arrival. No outdoor access. Nodded off occasionally along with most others.
On arrival I noticed through the blur, lots of grey naval ships were moored in port.
Once off the ferry, the details were clearer.
We arrived under heavy silver skies above the brown Rio de la Plata (river of silver). My hotel was within easy walking distance past what seemed like some sort of military/naval/police institution where one uniformed man with a beautiful young smile waved me through. Bliss oh bliss my hotel room was ready before check in-time. Could unpack/unleash the Pandora’s box of known objects. Went off and found a mini supermercado, bought water, prepared mixed salad and tin of sardines. Came back ate; then slept for 3 hours. Have just returned from a walk on the streets and a dinner. So, what did I see?
I am in the old town part of Montevideo where there are no traffic lights and mostly narrow streets. Fairly quickly I got into the slower pace and understood the drivers expect you to step out and they will stop. However, there was one street down which raced huge heavy passenger buses – noisy, dirty, and overbearing. I was careful on that street.
Most streets are tiled with variations on concrete slabs, and there is less vigilance required when walking on them than on Buenos Aires streets – that is, there are less holes and gaps.
I find I am missing the French inspired architecture of Buenos Aires; but I am loving the wooden doors. Mostly shut but occasionally one was open, and I could look into those private sanctuaries. Generally not pretty; seemingly poor, dilapidated interiors.
Some impressive ‘graffiti’.
Then of course there were the grander and more upmarket buildings.
There were landmarks; I am not yet ready to write a history lesson so there are only pictures.
I walked a few kms up and down streets and began to get my bearings on this old end of town; I found some significant monuments, buildings, Plazas and parks. Then turned for ‘home’ all the while looking for food I wanted to eat, and that my body needed for its health. In its absence I decided to try a pizza – because the promotion goes that you can’t leave Argentina or Uruguay without one of their Italian heritage inspired pizzas. I make my own ’thin and crispy’ pizzas at home without dairy and without meat, chicken or fish and love them. I had no illusions that finding such here would be possible. I had read that Fain was a pizza base made from chickpea flour, so I ordered that thinking I did a good job of explaining in my limited Spanish that I wanted the fresh tomatoes etc topping the Fain. Instead I got thin sheets of hot fried Fain, and a separate long pizza (rather than our common rounds) with a passata base, cheese, fresh tomatoes and basil. A bottle of virgin olive oil was supplied to use as I wished. All incredibly edible but I couldn’t eat the lot; too much.
And I ordered a glass of red. A wonderful smooth drop – and I haven’t a clue what it was.
So, all in all today has been a simple day of travel and relocation. I am incredibly fatigued (may be because I am eating and drinking the foods I know my body doesn’t handle well) and contemplating having tomorrow (Wednesday) off – but will see whether I have new energy when I wake in the morning. I guess I want to make space to think about what I have seen and experienced and to develop some sort of perspective. I have raced here and there and done this and that, but I haven’t developed any understanding of where I have been or what is going on. I need to think as well as to do …