Learning Uruguay

Every day brings ????

Re-learning Canada

Posted by urufish on August 7, 2007


After clearing customs/immigration with the easiest interrogation I can recall, my daughter and I passed into Canada.  My wife was waiting there for us for with hugs and kisses.   Thus began my refamiliarization with my old home city and how I’ve changed in relation to it. 

First change.  Intead of renting a car, like I did all my life, a Uruguayan friend in Toronto borrowed me his, for the 12 days we’re here.  A very unCanadian thing to do… a very Urugayan thing to do.  This was the start of my Urunadian adventure. 

First stop after the airport was breakfast.  Where else does a returning Torontonian go?  Toronto’s IHOP equivalent, the Golden Griddle.    Waitresses?  They’re faster and cheerier than in Montevideo, serving more customers in less time. 

We came in on a Sunday and yesterday was a holiday so we were spared the bumper to bumper experience.  That comes today.  Cars are bigger and newer here.  Saw my first Cadillac in more than a year.  That’s one car I’ve never, ever seen in Uruguay. 

Toronto’s definitely a newer city than Montevideo.  You dont see a building in the burbs that’s older than the 50’s.  The building boom that’s been 10 years running didn’t slow down in the past 18 months.  There are buildings and houses all over the place that weren’t here when I left.  More big box stores and getting bigger. 

I stayed in a hotel in Paysandu last week for about UYP700/night per person.  We’re in a Delta this week.  You dont pay by the person, you pay by the room, UYP3000/night.  Just a bit more.  It’s about twice the size, so that makes it only about twice the price. 

I finally got a chance to cost food, apples to apples last night.  Toronto restaurants are double Montevideo restaurants prices.  The thing that struck me the most is water.  Within seconds of sitting down, staff come by with huge glasses and fill them with ice water, leaving a giant pitcher of ice water on your table.  This is tap water.  I love it.  I forgot how it tasted.  Yummmmmm..  I looked around and saw a couple of tables drinking Perrier.  I thought that was funny. 

Shopping in the drugstore brought with it a little sticker shock.  A bottle of cough syrup and a nose spray hit UYP1000.   We made the rounds of some discount clothing stores for my daughter.  I wasn’t in the mood.  As expected, the selection is a galaxy beyond Montevideo.  The prices are about double for most things, but the quality is much better.  The chinese clothing in Toronto is considerably higher quality than Montevideo.  

Driving here is so different.  Everyone stays between the white lines and signals when they change lanes.  It was FANTASTIC to make right turns on red lights again.  I’m going to miss that when we go back (sniff).  Gasoline is around 90 cents a liter, but tanks are bigger and mpg (kpl) is worse, so it evens out in the end methinks. 

First time since the 80’s that I can remember seeing the Canadian dollar at par with the US dollar.  Saw that this morning at the hotel desk.  I looked at it 3 times to make sure I wasnt reading it wrong.   The Euro was at 1.26…  It took over the US$ spot. 

Overall, I feel funny.  I look around me and see things I didn’t notice before.  I look at people and wonder about them.  Where they live?  What they do?  Where are they going?  Whenever I’m in a restaurant or a store, I keep saying gracias.   In my head, I’m rapidly translating to spanish before I speak to someone.  I keep wanting to ‘trill’ my r’s.  Yesterday, I bumped into someone and I was going to say ‘pardon’ but stopped at the last millisecond.  Someone asked me where I was from yesterday.  I said Uruguay.  She said she’s heard of it but didn’t know where it was.  



8 Responses to “Re-learning Canada”

  1. urucans said

    hi urufish glad you are here with your family and have a little break from the cold winter in UY , we will like to meet you guys we are in King City and our phone is 905 833 2857 our e-mil is alberto0919@hotmail.com hoping to see you soon !!

  2. urucans said

    hi urufish , glad you are here with your family having a little break from the cold winter in UY, we wil like to meet you guys we are in King City and our phone is 905 833 2857 and e-mail is alberto0919@hotmail.com, hoping to see you soon!!

  3. happygolucky said

    We can completely relate to your IHOP fix! We just returned from spending 6 weeks in Calgary and area and can attest that one of the first things we did in Canada was head to our favorite breakfast place. Sunday breakfasts “out” are definitely one of the things we miss in Montevideo!

  4. dsc said

    I live in the city of pancake breakfasts. Well, during Stampede anyway.. Not into it personally, so I don’t think I’ll miss it when I move away..

    I don’t follow the bit on tap water. I thought it was supposed to be drinkable in UY? But I guess I’ll find out when I’m down in a few weeks. Maybe it’s not so “drinkable” after all?

    If driving in TO is great compared to UY, UY must be wild! But again another thing to be found out on my own.

    I beg to differ.. The loonie hasn’t reached parity with the USD. Getting closer all the time (albeit with a downturn lately), but not quite there yet. If you meant what you’re offered for USD in the hotels, well good stuff then…

    Sounds like you’re experiencing a bit of ‘reverse culture shock’. I’ve got this when coming back from 3 or 4 week vacations. I can only imagine what you’re going through.. Do you get back to Canada often?

    Hey, hope to meet you if you’re back in UY in mid-Sept.


  5. urufish said

    What I meant was that I’ve never seen restaurants put tap water on the table. Locals drink tap water in Montevideo. We dont. A habit we picked up because we lived in Piriapolis for the first 20 years here and the water wasn’t the greatest.

    Hotels in Toronto do the par thing for the USD. It’s a tourist perk.

    We dont go back that often. Last trip back was October. We try to get back once a year, preferably July or August. To replenish supplies.. like Campbell soups, peanut butter, raspberry jam….

  6. happygolucky said

    Dana – My husband and I drink the tap water in MVD. You are right, it is perfectly drinkable.

  7. Syd Blackwell said

    Hi Urufish,

    Welcome back, eh! As you can see, Toronto hasn’t changed much. The Argos still suck and the Leafs are still laughable and the 401 is still bumper to bumper most weekdays and it’s still muggy and warm in the summer and Lake Ontario still looks good.

    Have the fifth offer on my business. Hope this one goes through. Will see you back in Uruguay.


  8. urufish said

    A summary of my thoughts for the past several days… I’m not used to so many people shopping at one time.. I waited 3 lights to make a left turn the other day and it wasn’t rush hour. House prices seem outrageously high. People line up to buy new condos when they first go on sale. Couldn’t find a decent hotel under $120/night.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: