Uruguay and what I'm learning about travel

Primera Clase

Primera Clase

This last week I was dealing with a business that had its server hacked and was experiencing a flood of spam emails. And in the midst of all of the stress of dealing with that, the reality of being a digital nomad hit me, in a pleasant way. Because here I sit in Argentina, talking with a team of people in Asia and a team of people in the United States to fix the problem. And even though it took a few days, still we got it done. Even though I am a technical person, I still find this amazing that this is possible in this day and age. I was doing video phone calls with people, Skype calls with people, chatting back and forth on messaging platforms like Slack and Skype. Using both my laptop and my phone, sometimes at the same time, and being able to work remotely on management tools for websites that were located in the United States that were serving companies in Asia. When all is said and done, pretty cool stuff. I freely admit that some of the cause for the length of time it took to solve it was on my part. The solution? I need to spend more time calling people instead of just email and messaging. Sometimes it is simply better to get on the phone with someone. I hate to do that but I just have to get over it.  Follow up + more follow up.

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To keep the vessel clean ... love it - clean room shoe covers

To keep the vessel clean ... love it - clean room shoe covers

I’m in Uruguay as I finish writing this. I took the Buquebus ferry Francisco (named after the pope but I didn’t let that spoil my enjoyment of the ride) from Buenos Aires to Montevideo. Just wanted to see another country in South America. I did the First Class seat which wasn’t that much more and it was an extraordinarily pleasant and enjoyable experience. For an extra $30, one can get a very nice full breakfast buffet. I took a video of the ride. It is not a great video because it was gray and rainy but the ferry just barrels along. I would choose this mode of travel over any other I think if there were more vessels like this available. I should look into how to get passage on vessels that go around the world. No security hassles, no weight restrictions, no seat belts, no dry air, lots of room. Hmmm. Now that is an idea. I’m not talking about a cruise here, but rather seeing if it is possible to get a berth on a decent vessel that is going between, say, Asia and North America, or between Europe and South America. I underscore that it would have to be a decent vessel. Now that would be an experience if I could arrange it.

Although … don’t exchange a lot of money on board (I did because I had no idea if they had an exchange at the port and I wanted Uruguayan Pesos for a taxi), their rates are usurious, and don’t buy anything in their “duty free” shop on board. Horribly expensive. I so rarely eat snacks at night now. I’m proud of myself for that. And saves on buying crap you don’t need at the duty free.

I’m extraordinarily frustrated with my Spanish right now. I’ve been studying hard for three weeks now (I know that doesn’t sound like much) but I’m at point where my brain locks up every time I try to speak. I remember this when I learned French. The knowledge is there. But I can’t sort it out in time to make it come out of my mouth. My teachers both noticed that I keep trying to speak French words too 😊.

It is Friday morning in Montevideo. Independence Day. 25th August is the day they mark as gaining Independence from the Empire of Brazil in 1825. Hmmm. Interesting. I thought it was independence from the Spanish, but a bit of research brought that factoid up. It is raining hard (with lightning 😊 ) and I’m enjoying coffee in the lobby of the 4 Points Montevideo. Not in a really nice area of town, but easy to get a taxi. It’s a pleasant city. La Rambla is this extraordinarily long promenade along the beach. Beautiful to walk on. Not a lot of tall buildings. A little run down, but some really nice areas nonetheless. I went for a long walk on La Rambla after I finished a bunch of work. The town was deserted. Couldn’t even find a taxi. The weather earlier was a factor, but on official holidays they really shut down. I saw one restaurant open on my walk. That’s all. No stores, nothing else. Everything was shut down.

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But as I said, I find the city pleasant. A little like Buenos Aires but less people. Both cities are spread out without a lot of tall buildings. The streets are wide and have sidewalks. A lifetime in Asia has made me grateful for that. And what they call traffic problems would constitute a delightful traffic day in Bangkok or Manila. But just to make me feel at home … they just had a power outage here in Montevideo. Just like home 😊

I am coming to a realization about travel. I am absolutely not a tourist. I never have been, but Uruguay and Finland are the only countries I have ever visited simply just to see them. But honestly? I have no interest in art, maybe just a little in history, and none at all for doing the tourist things. I don’t drink, so visiting wineries is kind of an exercise in futility. I’m not a huge fan of the outdoors. My military time cured me of that. Beaches have sand on them so why would anyone want to go there? And tour groups? No. Please. Don’t even get me started about doing something in a group.

So, one might ask oneself, “Why travel?” – Well, I like the experience of traveling. I try to travel well, so the trip is part of the experience and not something to be survived. I like going to nice restaurants, and cafés for coffee and pastries, yes. I like to people watch and read. I like going to bookstores and grocery stores to see what real life is like. I was really surprised by how much I liked the ferry. I have a good friend in Thailand who goes on cruises all the time. I am going to have to do that for sure. As long as I can get in my workouts, have books to read, BBC murder mysteries to watch, the Internet for research and staying in touch with my friends, reasonable food, and comfortable surroundings, I’m pretty happy.

Another friend did suggest trying local tour guides. I may try that. Although I was somewhat shocked at the prices for that. And then again, that is at most a day for me. How much ‘touring’ can one really do?

As I always say, you’re never too old to learn about yourself, and I certainly am.

I thought the company magazine on a vessel named after the pope was quite appropriate. The first photo is the lounge at the ferry terminal in Buenos Aires. The trays in First Class on the ferry are great.

I was impressed by the first store that I saw upon entering the upmarket Puenta Carreta mall in Montevideo. No prizes for guessing which photo I'm referring to. I was scolded for taking photos of the duty free area on the ferry ... who knows why. Morons. A nice 'cortado' coffee at my seat. Various photos of the interior seating on the ferry, including the dining area at the first class section.