For the 24th or 25th year in a row, we celebrated Christmas in Maldonado with my in-laws, the San Martin’s and New Years, on top of San Antonio in our place.
As we get older, kids grow up and some even move away… at least to Montevideo… So this year’s Christmas gathering was a little smaller than last year’s, which was a little smaller than the year before. When the weather’s hot and there’s no chance of rain, we have Christmas dinner outside. This year we were worried a bit about rain, so we held it in the garage. Urugayans are very creative. My inlaws dont have big tables, so they take doors off their hinges and use them for table tops. Not sure what’s holding them up. My brother-in-law is a carpenter. Could be he made boxhorses years ago he still uses.
The garage is my nephew’s (his son’s) automotive shop. So the walls are decorated with SnapOn tools. The dinner was great, as always.
We plan dinner to end around midnight and that’s when everyone pulls out their fireworks and light them off for 10-15 minutes. My nephews have never outgrown their childhood. They still prefer those ultra loud bangers. Wouldn’t be that much of a problem up north, but here, everything’s close together and it’s all concrete block. My ears hurt until 12:30am. This year we couldn’t even find the family dog. He took off and hid around 23:30.
After the fireworks, we open the presents. Uruguay is odd that way. We open presents after the fireworks. Everyone gets presents. Even the kids. I say even because the serious day for presents for children isn’t Christmas. It’s Kings Day. January the 6th. So if you celebrate Christmas and come to Uruguay, keep those two differences in mind.
After the presents were opened, Delia and I drove to Piriapolis for the night. We didn’t want to drive all the way back to Montevideo. We’ve used the house so rarely this year, it’s a treat for us to sleep over.
When we got to the house, we got to use our new automatic gates and garage opener. The front door has been changed. There’s an alcove there now and you cant see the door itself until you get out of the car and leave the garage. When we got to the door, we got the surprise of our lives. There was a big, black dog lying there. Good thing he was a friendly dog. Scared the hell out of us.
Earlier in the day, we’d stopped off in Piriapolis on the way to Maldonado and left our dog upstairs on the balcony. He didn’t seem to be upset at all that this dog was there. Figured that meant the dog was a she – not a he. Anyway, the dog wanted to stay and we wanted ‘her’ to go. So we opened the back of the car and she jumped inside for a ride down the mountain. We went to the port and opened the back of the station wagon up and she jumped out. We drove back to the house, unloaded our car and as we were about to enter the house, the dog was back… panting like mad. We think it ran all the way up the mountain.
So we tried to get her back into the car to take her further away but she clearly figured out what were up to and didn’t cooperate this time. But we kept trying and finally, she jumped in for the ride and off we went. We debated which direction to take her in… Should it be towards Arrancopelito’s place (Puerto Suelo) or Pan D’Azucar. Pan D’Acuar won out and off we went. We dropped her off just outside San Carlos. When we opened the back door up, she refused to get out. So I went into the driver’s seat while my wife coaxed her out the back. As she stood there, refusing to leave, I pressed the gas and out she went. I slowed down so my wife could get in but the dog came after the back door so I had to go up the street, close the door, turn around and come back for Delia. We got back to the house and waited a half hour. No dog. Whew….
When we woke up the next morning, there was no dog. Hopefully, she made some nice friends in San Carlos.
We drove back to Montevideo and I worked the rest of the week and prepared for New Years eve which was to be at our house.
New Years eve….
After shopping to provision the house for the season, we left for Piriapolis around 4pm. We had our nephew purchase 2 piglets for the main course and you have to start roasting them about 6 hours before dinner. We arranged for him to get the house around 5pm and start the parilla. Unfortunately, he didn’t have any money so he couldn’t buy the wood. We ended up buying it after we got there so the piggies started roasting a bit late.
Around 9pm, I took my daughter down to the town to buy some stuff and fireworks. Unfortunately, everything closed at 9pm this year so we could only buy fireworks. About 100 bucks later, we were on our way up to the house again.
When we got there, guess who was in the back of the house? Yup.. the black dog. My wife speculates that when she hears fireworks, she comes to our place. Yah.. I couldn’t figure that out either.. but that’s what she says and my wife’s like Dr Doolittle… I dont question her communication skills with animals.
The dog had thick, matted black fur and I didn’t know what she was carrying around with her but I didn’t like the idea of her hanging around the parilla. So I strung a long run of galvanized wire between two trees in the backyard and put a choke on her and let her slide back and forth up there all night. We brought her food and water so she got to watch everything, comfortably, but from a distance. Our dog didn’t seem to mind her presence there at all. When we went to sleep, I took her off the choke and she went to sleep at the front door. When we got up in the morning she was gone. Mystery dog.
The pool was working great and my nephews got to swim for several hours. Later that evening, a friend of my nephew dropped by. He’s the chief of the highway patrol for Maldonado and probably Rocha. Guess what he says to me when he sees me? ‘Driver license and registation please’.. in nearly perfect English. It seems the only English he knows 🙂 When he was leaving, my nephew and him got into a little bit of wrestling–a little too close to the pool–and both fell in.
After dinner, we shot off all those fireworks… If you ever get a chance to come to the top of San Antonio at Christmas or New Years, it’s a great place to watch fireworks. You can see everything on all the beaches towards Montevideo. If you go to the backside of San Antonio, you can see all the fireworks along all the beach towns up to and including Punta. Great view! Some people even drive up to the top of San Antonio and set off their own fireworks.
This New Years eve, everyone went home about 2am. On New Year’s day, we got up late and I did a bunch of handiwork around the house to finish it up for the season. Didn’t see any Tarantulas. I guess they were still hiding from the fireworks the night before.
As bad as you’d think the traffic should be coming back from a 4 day weekend, it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as it used to be driving south to Toronto all those summers we lived there.