A few things that are different here in Uruguay....

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Within_is_without

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There were so many things that struck me as markedly different when I arrived in Uruguay. Now, most things have normalized and I don't think of them very often. But here's a few things that come to mind. I probably should take pictures of mundane, daily things so I have them for future blogs or writing:

1) House keys. They look completely different. I'd insert an image, but it comes out huge and I don't know how to resize it.

2) Floor mopping rags. They're all the same. They sell them by the stack. They wrap them around a squee-gee the size of a broom. They don't have mops like we do in the states. I think it's the same in Italy. Of course there's no carpeting here, just tiled or wood floors.

3) Dogs. They're everywhere. The "homeless" around the restaurants and constructions sites are all dogs. They roam freely, and have more pack-like behavior. They're more territorial. But also more woven into the fabric of society and they don't really cause much problems. An odd thing I would have never thought of. Some dogs only understand Spanish. Some German. A dog came to me with a stick in his mouth at the beach. I said "drop it!" so I could give it a toss for him. He looked at me completely puzzled. His owner came up and issued a command in German and the dog immediately dropped the stick. Some dogs are bilingual.

4) Cars. Yeah, there's Hondas and Nissans, but also cars from India, China, France, you name it. You can't assume a familiar name like Nissan is like the states. They're likely manufactured in Brazil and the safety standards are different. A common truck here, and a piece of crap, is a FAW.

5) Money, of course. It's about 28 pesos to one dollar right now. You get used to estimating and looking up the conversion online. After nearly 3 years here, the UY money still feels like monopoly money. It's easy enough to go by the ATM and grab some cash, but of course the ATM is in Spanish, and they don't have an option to switch it to English. So that takes some time to sort out. And you have a dolares and peso account.

6) Numbers in red dispensers to denote who gets served next. They're everywhere. Banks, the cheese counter, the feria. You walk in and get a number and you get served when they call yours. At the meat counter they put them on a spindle, maybe to count how many they served that day. I was at one counter, the only person there, and they asked me to get a number which they then took and put on the spindle. Then they asked how they could help me.

7) Adapters for the plug ins, by the dozens. The plug-ins are three smallish round holes in a row. Most appliances have a larger diameter round plug like they use in Europe, so you need an adapter for that. Then you have American plugs. And a couple oddball ones like on a European computer printer. So adapters are laying all over the place. And surge protectors with many things plugged into one outlet. The electricity here is 220/50 hz. And it's amazingly badly installed with cheap plastic components. Oddly, the wiring is not super heavy duty. In the states, 220 is a big deal with heavy gauge wires. Here it's more like 18 gauge lamp cord. And not near the safety standards we're used to. And there's a master switch for the whole house out by the gate where the meter is located. Now and then it gets a surge and switches off. That's the first thing you have to check. Who knew.

Most of what makes this place unique is what's not here. There's miles and miles of beachfront, and hardly any large hotels or condos right on the beach (except for some tallish buildings along the Rambla in Punta del Este and few other places). So there's an absence of over-development and solitude and unspoiled beachfront is a dime a dozen.

They don't have clothes dryers, at least to speak of. It's all clothes lines, like back in the 60's. If it's a sunny day, you do laundry and you have to hustle to get it off the line before twilight or it gets damp again. And the towels and sheets always smell good.

Ditto dishwashers. Only a few exist. So there's literally hours each day doing dishes.

Garbage disposals don't exist either.

There are very few hustlers, hobos, or homeless people. You just don't see them, and nobody pesters you on the beach with desperate trinkets and horrible impoverishment. Now and then, closer to the larger towns, you'll see somebody juggling at a traffic light and collecting money. Or somebody who wants to give you a flyer for something at a stop light. But, outside of Montevideo, you just don't see homeless people or encampments. Even in Montevideo, which is mostly a dump, it's not all that pervasive. I've heard that they take care of the disadvantaged here. Mostly family members, but they go around and arrange for shelter and services for folks. Once I saw a trail leading back into some trees on a large grassy plot of land. I had a momentary feeling of alarm as I began to follow the path. In the Portland Oregon area, the trail almost certainly would have led to a makeshift encampment and probably some sketchy people living there. The path led to some bee hives somebody was tending.

They don't have doorbells here. Somebody manufactured that need in the States. Down here, they stand outside your gate, or maybe approach your door, and they start clapping. The first time we heard somebody in the alley clapping their hands we were mystified. Oh, and the weed beater yard guys. Many trim a pretty large area with weed whackers with large handles and harnesses. When they are in a neighborhood and available for work, they have these whistle things, like a plastic mouth harp that plays a scale, and they blow them to signal that they are able to work for you. Each guy has a different whistle.

Last thing I will mention, speaking of clapping. I was at the 'feria', a large outdoor market where we get most of our food for the week. A child was lost and beginning to panic. A woman begin clapping, and soon people from the crowd formed a circle around the frightened child, all of them clapping. The mother easily found her child. It was an unspoken social custom, probably from ancient times.
 
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Cobalt Jade

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3) Dogs. They're everywhere. The "homeless" around the restaurants and constructions sites are all dogs. They roam freely, and have more pack-like behavior. They're more territorial. But also more woven into the fabric of society and they don't really cause much problems. An odd thing I would have never thought of. Some dogs only understand Spanish. Some German. A dog came to me with a stick in his mouth at the beach. I said "drop it!" so I could give it a toss for him. He looked at me completely puzzled. His owner came up and issued a command in German and the dog immediately dropped the stick. Some dogs are bilingual.

This was similar to Mexico... dogs would just lounge in front of their owners' businesses and barely look up when someone went in or out. Some dogs took up residence on the roof -- many roofs in Mexico are flat and the owners use it as a patio or to dry laundry. Not so many chihuahuas as you'd think there. Lots of golden retrievers, german shepherds, and shar-peis, for some reason.
 

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