Learning Uruguay

Every day brings ????

May day (just a little late)

Posted by urufish on May 16, 2007

Today was May 1st… a holiday in Uruguay, equivalent of the northerner’s Labour day.   Except in the north, we celebrate it on the first Monday in September.  In this part of the world, it seems a little more left…  May day. 

This presented an opportunity to christen our new parilla.  My wife’s family from Maldonado drove in and some octogenerian aunts joined us from Montevideo.  We bought a ton of meat yesterday and today, at noon, they showed up with a pile of wood and my nephew started up the new BBQ. 

As those of you who have spent time here know, these things are more than meals.  They are entire afternoons.  To get the coals to the right temperature and volume is an hour right there.  Then you have to cook the meat ultra slow.  I usually end up eating something else while waiting. 

The assado was great.  Churascos, morjillas… and to keep in tune with the progressing times, chicken.  Correct me if I’m wrong but I dont ever recall cooking chicken here back in the 80’s?  In those days, we used to bring live pigs and lambs home and slaughter them in the backyard, just before we cooked them..  Dont ever remember a chicken running around without its head 🙂 

Anyway, we live across the street from the Costa de Azul restaurant and all the staff were waving at us… congratulating us on our first assado.  I felt bad because while the house was being built, they kept asking when we would have it and they wanted to come.   Will have to make one just for them in the next few weeks… 

This time of the year, lunch is the best time to do it.  Nights are getting just a tad too chilly for sitting around outside, eating and drinking….   My wife panicked when she realized we didn’t have any beer and she thought all the stores were closed.  Well, most were but some Uruguyans, who own small corner mini supermarkets figured this would be a good opportunity and opened up.  They weren’t wrong.  We went to our corner store for 6 Pilsens and to my total surprise, there were 6 people in line waiting.  I go to this store almost every day and the most I’ve ever seen was one person ahead of me.  And to make it worse, one of the 6 was purchasing what looked like a week of supplies.  The total was over $2000 pesos…  I have never ever seen anyone spend more than 200 pesos in that store.  The owner had her entire family helping out.  My niece went with me and took the family ferret – Noodles – with her and everyone, (except the owner) played with him while we waited.  Ahhhhhh… we love this place. 

So we trekked back with the 6 Pilsens..  Cold beer on the table and ready to eat and the next crisis came.  We need 3 tomatos.  So I trek back and this time, luckily, there are only 4 people ahead of me and they’re  all small baskets. 

I get back with the 3 tomatos and everyone’s started eating.  Well, why wait for me.  I’m just the delivery boy. 

After that, my niece wanted to take the ‘bugie’ out for a spin.  The ‘bugie’ looks like a dune buggy but it’s made in China and if I was dumb enough to drive it in the sand, we would need to replace the engine.  So we drive it on the streets of Pocitos. 

We haven’t used it for weeks and it wouldn’t start.  Fortunately, this is Uruguay and everyone’s a mechanic… and in our case, her brother really is a mechanic.  So after taking the engine apart and putting it together again, it starts.  The air filter was clogged with bichos… a couple of whacks and it was clean. 

So my nephew takes out his sister and then his father and then his mother and as they round the corner to come home, the gas runs out.  So we all pushed it back into the driveway and if I’m lucky, it will be too cold to drive it until the spring :).  Did I mention I hate to drive it because everyone stops and stares at you.  A dune buggy in the middle of Pocitos can do that for you.  Today, my nephew tells me a delivery guy on a moto pulls out his cell phone while they go by and with a backhand, and his hand behind his back, the guy takes a photo of the bugy behind him.  The next block, they find some guy crouching under a car taking a picture of them.  I guess my relatives like the spotlight.  Me, no. 

Then it starts to rain and everyone goes home. 

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