Montevideo – faded chic

My last stop with Nelson was the Uruguay capital Montevideo, although my main purpose of visiting this city was the great reputation of its port facilities and the ease of its paperwork for sending Nelson home I did have a few days there and the city grew on me very much over that time.  Tony had to leave immediately for Buenos Aries as he was meeting with a friend who lives there and I was to follow in a few days.

I had already packed Nelson up so stayed in a functional hotel on the waterfront, this gave me the advantage of a 5km promenade for my training runs and a secure parking lot for Nelson while we processed the paperwork to get into the port, clear customs and load the truck into the container.

The weather in Montevideo was just perfect for me a little bit of light cloud and about 22oC so I was able to do daily runs along the promenade and the breeze kept me cool.  The shipping offices were in the old port area which had a kind of shabby chic look interspersed with nice pedestrian streets and decent coffee places, not a bad spot to spend a few days of paperwork processing.

In the old port area there is a converted warehouse full of restaurants.  I found a great place where I could sit and watch the master of the grill master Fernando prepare the meat for the whole restaurant, as you can see below he was keen to explain how good his meat was and the technique for grilling it to perfection, once again a great validation of learning some Spanish before my trip.  It was nice to be travelling on my own again I find that when I am travelling solo I am more inclined to interact with the local people and learn a bit more about the people and their culture, the downside is it can be quite lonely at times so a few days here an there exploring on my own is just about ideal.

Ribs seemed to be the speciality of the house and were recommended by Fernando so i went along with it and they were very tasty, not a cut i would have picked by myself so local knowledge paid off.  It seems that meat hanging over the edge of the plate is very much the style here, sadly my alcohol free regime means it it washed down with coke rather than red wine !

There is lots to see wandering around the old port from fruit markets to interesting murals, lovely blossoming trees and parks interspersed with decent coffee and the odd run made for a quite relaxing few days

This mural captured for me the slightly edgy yet intriguing character of the city, by the end of the trip I had become quite comfortable with marginal neighbourhoods, I don’t carry a big rucksack, dress like a local (so no combat trousers and floppy hats) carry a minimal wallet and my phone and look like I know what I am doing so I feel pretty invisible.  If I have to carry anything like documents or camera I have developed the trick of putting them in a plastic bag from a local shop which just helps me fade into the background.

Some of the murals are quite artistic and abstract

The fruit market was good to wander in, not a market for tourists but a real working market for local people which is what I like to see if possible

The parks had some lovely blossoming trees and in some of the parks there were elderly couples dancing to tango music in the squares.

On the Sunday before we started to process Nelson for shipping it was international womens day, this is a big celebration in Montevideo with hundreds of thousands of women marching and chanting, hugging and kissing.  Watching this unfold from a distance, in this case standing up on a raised wall, hand sanitiser in my pocket, I had a feeling of dread and wondering when we would see the likes of this event again, for sure it would not be in the next year or two as the tsunami of the Coronavirus was clearly on the way and did not look like stopping any time soon.

Just after this time I also got some news from home that was a bit alarming, the crisis of the Coronavirus was deepening by the day and the government in the USA had just suspended travel from Europe, I began to get a feeling that time was running out on my trip and even looked into getting flights directly home from Montevideo, amoung all the chaos of the US announcment it was improssible to get through on the phone or change anything on line so I stayed with the plan to go to Buenos Aries the following day (wednesday) and leave on the Sunday for home.

That got a bit interesting, see the next blog …..

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