Sunday, 4 December 2011

IATTOUR Nov 28-Dec 4

Last week in Montevideo, Uruguay (boohoo!)

Big news of the week...the Chivito Twins take on the Candombe bandits.

Although Monday was back to school as usual, on Tuesday, Martin and Wolfgang (affectionately known as the "Chivito Twins") arrived back from their business travels with a startling story.  On Sunday night they were following and photographing the "Candombe band" during its practice near their apartment when they were accosted by 5 druggie types who wanted to rob them.  Martin punched one and chased them off (even though they showed him what might have been a gun).  Later, they went after Wolfgang's camera, striking him on the head, but the brothers successfully fought them off again.  Very impressive and slightly crazy, but they have a big story for years to come.  This type of thing could happen in any large city--we feel very safe in Montevideo. 
We followed up that excitement with another Tango evening at Margot's Milonga (classic old building) where Andrea instructs with Graziella, Elizabeth (Liz), Juliane and Bruno.  Afterwards, we stayed to have wine/beer and talk to our friends from Punto del Diablo.  There is a fiesta being planned for Thursday at Laura's house to which we are all invited.   
Overnight, we had another of Montevideo's big Thunderstorms, with all sorts of action..."la tormenta".  The next day the wind was blowing storm force, with water coming over onto the Avenida..
 On Wednesday night, thanks to Juliane, we started getting ready for Christmas in Montevideo at Herradura.  She has been making advent boxes and beautiful Christmas stars in Uruguayan colours.  Tonight, we made German Christmas cookies (Gazetitas de Aleman).   Juliane requested 5 favorites from her mom, translated the recipes into Spanish, collected all ingredients and divided us into teams.  Somewhat thwarted by the gas oven which doesn't have a dial, so the temperature is just a guess, we made all 5 varieties.   Sandra's sons happily cut, decorated and sampled cookies for us.  Not surprisingly, the baking was a tremendous success (the cookies disappeared very quickly!).  
Directly after the baking, Tony, Bruno and Jason barbequed.  Everyone gathered to say goodbye to Sarah who has been volunteering at the World Trade Centre and is returning to Washington DC for another position very early on Saturday morning.
On Thursday night, Liz, Grazi and Elaine attended a Tango conference in the basement of the Wine Museum which was presented by a lovely woman from Montevideo. She has been studying in Indiana at Notre Dame and is in South America on Fulbright scholarship to write a history of Tango. Tony, Juliane, Elizabeth and Bruno opted to go for a beer and meet us later at the Tango Class get-together.  We feasted on potluck dinner in Laura's beautiful home, continuing to chat, dance, say goodbyes late into the evening. We are hopeful that we will see many of these friends again--perhaps in Canada.

On Friday evening, after a sad day of goodbyes to teachers and friends.

We headed off for dinner at a local parrilla with Bruno, Martin and Wolfgang.  The dinner was mainly grilled meat...a lot of meat...including chorizo sausages, blood sausages and, I think, small intestine.  It tasted great, but was so much that guys aren't able to eat all (along with the beer).  Back at the school, we drank, talked work/travels and world politics into the wee hours. (It is going to be very quiet in Buenos Aires after this fun until Richard and Carmel arrive.)

Saturday morning, we were up to say goodbye to our friends who are heading to Punto del Este, and to exchange addresses.  Hopefully, we will see them BA and beyond.  More goodbyes to Julianne and Margot and we were off to Colonia del Sacramento by bus.  Such beautiful countryside (too bad I couldn't keep my eyes open).  Colonia is wonderful.  It is touristy, but very historic and quaint in the old town just down the block from our Bed and Breakfast.  

We spent hours walking by the old city wall, along the ancient cobblestone pathways while admiring the buildings, lighthouse and old cars stationed outside the restaurants.  In the evening, we headed to the restaurant which Juliane, Marion and Margot had recommended.  It was incredibly picturesque, with ancient autos parked outside--one with a table inside it.  You can get everything at "The Drugstore"--from Uruguayan to Japanese food to Swiss fondues.  We were actually able to speak to the waiter about our evening and order all in Spanish.  Feeling pretty good about that...and the Clerico we drank, we listened to a musical duet and watched the sunset.

Sunday, after a leisurely day strolling the town, we ate lunch at a seaside bistro, then returned to our B&B for a siesta.  

 Elaine calling home via GChat...pc to phone for $0.01/minute..not bad!

Tomorrow we are sadly wrapping up our Uruguay stay of over the 3 weeks as we board the fast cat ferry for Buenas Aires at noon...This country has much to offer-ocean, great food, tango, rolling prairies, high class resorts, hidden beach towns, historical cities, modern cities...and much more, along with a friendly hospitable people; we would highly recommend it for a destination for anyone contemplating a South American tour!

Just in case your favorite part of a trip is the food--here are some recipes for Uruguayan favorites:

Recipe for Alfajores
Alfajores, a favorite South American pastry, are cookies filled with delicious caramel, dulce de leche, and rolled in coconut to make a buttery-rich for an afternoon tea, a special dessert or an anytime snack. (You can omit the coconut or sub ganache, etc. for the dulce de leche  and they would still be great!)

Recipe for Clerico

What to drink on a hot summer's afternoon?

Clerico: Summer White Sangria

Recipe for Chivitos

And...the famous Uruguayan sandwich.  Eat it with fries and salad.  Top it with a slice of Canadian bacon and you have Chivito Canadianse.  Hard to resist!


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