Learning Uruguay

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Archive for June 24th, 2007

Sunday stuff

Posted by urufish on June 24, 2007

 gay-pride.jpg Gay pride:  Toronto

Today it was 27 degrees back home.  Thousands of people lined downtown Toronto’s streets Sunday afternoon to enjoy the city’s Pride Parade, Canada’s largest gay pride celebration.

Here in Montevideo: 

Random things from the Gallito, the telephone and life in general… 

Ouch.. my too still aches..  woke me up and has complained every few hours.. non stop….   Cant wait to see the dentist tomorrow.. 

My wife’s cousin calls.  Says ‘are you cold? I’m freezing my ass off’.  I say ‘The heat’s on.  What are you using?’  ‘I’m using estufas’.  ‘How many, just one?’  ‘Yah, I’m freezing to death.’  ‘Cold tonight eh?’ ‘Yah, very’..

CTI – the most aggressive cell provider in Uruguay, is advertising a colour screen Motorola F3 in a prepaid kit.  400UYP.

I see someone has written and is promoting software to handle the new taxes. 

ITAU is making a push for amortized mortgage loans with flexible terms.  Bank Boston never did. 

Buquebus is offering packages from Montevideo to

Buenos Aires family plan 2 adults, 2 children tween 3-7, 2 nights for 6 payments of U$S39 (per adult)

Termas (hot spring) in Arapey, 3 nights for 6 payments of U$S47 (per adult)

Bariloche, 7 days/4 nights (long bus ride eh?) 6 payments of U$S108 (per adult).  Sounds good.  I brought my skis down to Uruguay.  The moving guys laughed at them here in Montevideo.  Good thing they didn’t see my boots. 

Cataracts- Iguazu falls, 7 days/4 nights.  6 payments of U$S64.20

Tacuarembo (northern Uruguay-it’s a bit warmer there), 2 days/1 night.  6 payments of 520UYP.

All inclusive stay at Arapey Thermal Resort y Spa (hot springs) for U$S57/night per person, aparto with 2 bedrooms, 4 adults

I’m sitting here with a friend from Buenos Aires who is jumping up and down because her candidate just won the mayoralty race.  I just saw the new governor of Tiera del Fuego…  In school, I learned about Tiera del Fuego as the most remote place on earth.. the bottom of the world–like being on the moon or something.  And here I am, watching the elections, covered in snow.  Wow. 

Movistar announces new, low, low rates.  Now prime time is only 7UYP/minute.  (U$S0.30).

It’s cold outside.  My daughter came in Uruguayn style, collar up to her nose.. 

Posted in Daily life | 1 Comment »

The Immigration process (2nd attempt)

Posted by urufish on June 24, 2007

This post is taking a lot longe than 6-8 weeks to complete, as first promised.  Have no idea how long it will take.  But we’re working on it.  It’s ambitious.  Want to include everything, from what you need and how you do it at home to the final process of getting you residencia definitiva here. 

Because this is a work in progress, this will change every few weeks or so, possibly showing up in another place on the blog as major changes take place.  Today, June 24, we’re adding sections on birth certicate and proofs of salary. 

You have to get certain documents from home to start the process.  Amongst these are your ‘formal’ birth certificate.  Not the one you carry around with you.  The actual original one that was signed by the doctor (or midwife) who brought you into this world.  It has to be a certified copy.  That means it has to be stamped and signed by the ahj (authority having jurisdiction) in the place the certificate was issued. 

Here’s a copy of what one looks like from the the 40’s in the province of Ontario, Canada.

birth-certificate-large.jpg birth-certificate-2-large.jpg birth-certificate-back-large.jpg Notice the following:  at the bottom of the certificate, #2, the official stamp of the province (state) and signature of the AHJ, Judith M Hartman.   At the top of #1, notice the stamps and signatures of the local, Montevideo escribana and the official seals of Uruguay.  On #3 you see where the local consul has certified the copy.  You also see the stamp/signature of the official translator who signs the original copy and her translations.  NB.  My birth certificate does not show the country of Canada on it anywhere.  I was asked this question by someome from the US.  Back in the 40’s and 50’s who’d have thought globally?  Not state government agencies, that’s for sure.  As long as the consul certifies it, there is no problem. 

Accompanying the originals of the birth certificate, is the separate certification (see below).  You get this from the consulate in the country where the birth certificate is registered. 

 birth-certificate-consular-certification-large.jpg

Once in Uruguay, all these above documents must be translated into Spanish by an ‘official’ (graduate) public translator.  See the following:

birth-certificate-consular-xlation-to-publish.jpg birth-certificate-consular-xlation-2-to-publish.jpg  Rosario Lazaroff is the public translator.  The escribano must also sign and put official stamps on the document. 

We’ll do the police letter at a later date.  While I’m trying to locate mine, hopefully, someone kind will scan and email me their FBI or local PD report. 🙂

When you’re here, you need to provide your escriabano with proofs of your income.  In my case, it was a salary from up north, converted to down south.  I brought with a copy of my last year’s income tax return.  To make things even tidier, I had our accountant write a letter stating my last year’s salary.  Armed with that information she created document #1 for immigration.  Immigration didn’t like it, so they asked her for more information, proving the income by showing banking statements, #2.  There was one more request from them.  Since she based her opinion of my income on a document provided by a Toronto accountant, they asked for a Uruguayan accountant to certify the Toronto accountant’s letter.  When I locate it, I’ll post it alongside #2. 

  salary-sworn-statement-1-medium.jpg salary-sworn-statement-2-medium.jpg

Once you’ve produced the other documents, like your passport and the FBI or PD’s report and given them all to the immigration (or your consultant), you move on to the physical requirements of getting stuff done here.  The first thing you usually do is get your health checked out.   

Our friends, Charles and his wife Luba (pictured below), have been kind enough to take pictures of some steps along the way.  This is the place you go for your health card. 

carnetdesalud.jpg

The address is Bvar. Artigas 1331, phone # 400-1510. It is between Rodo and Chana. If you go by on weekends or late evening, they take the sign about Carnet de Salud down. Only when the sign is up can you get your exam. 

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to go to all the places here in Montevideo you will have to go and take photos.  We’d like to make this post as visual as possible. 

Posted in Immigration | 6 Comments »

Home heating

Posted by urufish on June 24, 2007

 cold-person-with-scarf.jpg

This is a good time to do this post.  We’ve had an unusual, but not uncommon, past month.  It came in with a bang, a cold bang… Then it mellowed a bit, then it went cold, then it mellowed again.  I think today (and the past few) have been mellow.  I had to pack a mattress in the car this morning in my pyjamas – outside.  I didn’t feel cold.  Try that in Toronto in December.  hah. 

This is somewhat typical of most winters.  Even though it’s not supposed to get cold until July, you get the odd cold spells lasting a day or two starting in May.  I think it’s been down to 1 or 2 degrees a few nights.  Practically speaking, that’s as low as it ever gets in July/August.  I guess in July and August, there are more days like that.  That’s what distinguishes the winter from the late fall. 

Those of us from the north, have respect for the outside weather, but what we really take for granted, is the weather inside.  My memory starts in Toronto in the early 1950’s and goes to the mid 2000’s.  In houses or apartments, except for when the heating broke, it was never, ever cold.  My parents set the winter thermostats at 22 degrees and that’s where the entire house stayed; kitchen, bathrooms, hallways, no exceptions.  In the 50’s we had coal fired radiators.  When we moved to the suburbs, we had oil fired central heating.  When I moved out, I lived in older buildings with losa using oil fired boilers.  The last apartments I lived in had forced electric, central heating and a/c.  When I moved into houses, all were gas fired, forced air central heating/air conditioning.  Again, there was never a single place anywhere in the house, including the basement, that varied by more than one degree from the thermostat setting. 

The only time I was ever cold living in Canada was one year when I lived in a trailer, like Jim Rockford.  It was forced air, gas fired heating.  When it came on, you were warm within 60 seconds.  When it went off, you were cold within 2 minutes.  It was a constant cycle of cold and hot.  The reason I bring this up is because some kinds of heating in Uruguay are like that.  I notice that effect, (not as dramatic though) with split, forced air heating.  It also depends on where you are in the room.  If you are sitting in the path of the heater, you get warm, (and windblown) when it’s on.  When it goes off, a few minutes before it comes back on, you cool off.  The bad news, in a bigger room with a high ceiling, if you’re not in the path and near an exposed wall, you may never warm up.  This is the case in our bedroom.  If you sit near 2 exposed walls, with the split past you, like my wife, she needs an electric heater to heat her feet under the desk.  Strange isn’t it?  We’ve got rads in that room, a split in that room and she still needs an electric spot heater.  Let’s go to rads next.

This house had a radiator system when we moved in.  It had cast iron radiators, about 80 years old.  We had them checked out before the renovation and they were in excellent condition so we kept them.  There were parts of the house that were never heated.  For instance, the kitchen, bathroom and service area.  These were areas used by the help and in those days, possibly to this day, owners didn’t heat those areas of the house.  Well, we’re north americans and we couldn’t conceive of not heating any room in the house, used by staff or not, (we dont have staff).  So we added modern, aluminum radiators.  Once we got the bugs out of this system, it works just fine.  So why is my wife cold?

In Canada, we set the temp at 22, 24/7.  I haven’t done that here, not yet anyway.  Why?  Because when I lived in an apartment, for the past year, the heat only ran from 7pm until 11pm and that kept us warm for the next 20 hours.  Houses in Uruguay have high heat mass.  Once you heat up all the bricks and mortar, it will radiate that heat for a long time.  But I found out that doesn’t work here in the house.  Because we use radiators, not losa, pipes buried in cement.  With rads, most of the heat goes into the air.  With losa, it heats the concrete which heats the air.  With rads, you heat the air.  Concrete doesn’t escape out through holes around doors and windows.  Air does.  So we double up the heating time.  8am til 12pm and 8pm until 12am.  Iron rads take over an hour to come up to full heat (and they hold heat for 2 hours after the boiler shuts off).  My wife’s desk sits next to an iron rad, 2 exposed walls with windows.  It doesn’t warm up until 11pm.  That’s why she uses the electric heater. 

So here’s my advice to you, the newcomer or you the resident who is uncomfortable during the winter.   If the house or apartment is without northern style insulation, with Uruguayan style windows, losa is your most cost effective option.  If you’re going to buy or rent an apartment, pay the extra few bucks and buy one with losa (or subfloor electric resistance heating).  If your building is more than 10 years old, have your architect inspect your piping.  Buildings from 25-35 years ago have a practical losa lifetime of 40-50 years.  That’s if the pipes are kept filled ALL THE TIME.  I know of buildings that had their losas drained for various reasons during the offseason and those pipes will not last as long, nor are they likely as efficient as they used to be.  

Your second best option is central boiler, radiator system.  As I stated above, because it isn’t heating the struture, it’s heating the air, there will be swings in temperature because it goes on and off more frequently.  Radiators aren’t everywhere like losa, so areas of the room will be colder than others.  The idea of putting radiators under windows is a very effective moderator when used with insulated walls like back home, but here, they’re not insulated.  So it’s cold near those uninsulated walls, farther from the radiators.  If you’re going to be sitting somewhere or working somewhere, place it as far from a cold wall or window as possible.  If you place it next to a rad, that’s fine when the rad is working, not so good when it’s not.  Rads are frequently set into a wall, which measn when it’s not working, there’s less wall between the outside and the inside. 

If you have or will use rads, I have a suggestion for you.  I am putting reflective insulation between my rads and the outside walls–silver side facing inside.  When a rad is placed on an outside wall, half the heat it produces heats the outside wall and makes it a nice place for a homeless person to lean against in July/August.  If you put reflective insulation between it and the outside wall, more of the IR heat will radiate into the house and when it’s off, less heat will radiate away from the house.  If your rads are totally exposed, this may not be aesthetically pleasing, but it will please your pocket book.  In our case, all the rads on outside walls are inside wooden cabinets with screens on the room side, so it cant be seen.  I expect this will put out a lot more heat than before.  You dont need to do this for rads against an inside wall. 

The next best option is a split heater/airconditioner.  If it’s a heat pump, using reverse cooling for heating and not resistance (like a ceramic heater), it wont be as expensive to run.  Uruguay is full of chinese units of questionable quality but it appears that they break under warranty, and when they’re fixed, they dont break again. 

person-on-rad.jpg With electric heat (radiant or oil filled rad) this is the only way you’re gong to feel toasty..

If you rely on spot heaters, like plug in electrical or wall installed gas heaters (like Mike has), you’re going to be miserable in the winter.  I’m sure there are some exceptions to this rule, but I have yet to experience one.  Most of our friends use spot heating..  Not a one of them is comfortable in the winter. 

With losa in our apartment, we didn’t even notice the winter last year.  With the radiators, I do feel a little chilly some mornings when it turns cold for more than a couple of days.  Then, I’ll dress up scandinavian style, with turtle neck, shirt, sweater and vest.. 4 layers.  And then I’m fine.. 

Posted in Daily life, Essentials | 9 Comments »