Uruguay Day Five

MONTEVIDEO: Well it turns out that today was just like any other lazy travel day. A little wander here, a little look there, stop for food and it was all over. Another day gone. It is amazing how fast days can disappear when you do not plan them.

So what happened? As I said, not a great deal. It was interesting to see the city come to a little bit of life though since this was now a Monday, the start of a work week. As expected, when I wandered through the Old Town section of the city there was a lot more people, although I could not say it was crowded.

Following The Water
It was around lunch time already, after rising late and taking the morning easy, that I headed toward the Port Market. This was the place to go for a decent meal of meat. To make things interesting, rather than take the same path as yesterday, I found an alternative path via the water, following it around to the port.

The Old Town section of Montevideo is build on a point, surrounded by water on three sides, and I was walking around the end of this point from one side to the other. My wanderings took me past many rough looking people warming themselves in the sun by the water’s edge. They may have been homeless, but it is hard to tell during the day. While walking I was passed a number of times by runners and joggers heading in one direction, and by fishermen on their bicycles heading in the other direction. It was not a busy pathway, but there always seemed to be people around somewhere.

It did not take long before I was near the port where I discovered the local fishing spot. Along the water’s edge were dozens of fishermen trying their luck. Some seemed to be fishing for tiny fish, while others had much bigger fishing rods and naturally appeared to be looking for something much bigger. A few fishermen had large steel nets attached to the end of a wooden stick that they would dip into the water and slowly drag back out again. The nets looked like a Chinaman’s hat turned upside down and each time would catch many tiny little bait fish which were then collected in a bucket.

Having seen enough of the fishing I continued on past the main port of Montevideo. As I passed by, I stopped to watch a giant forklift grasp a container with wide metallic arms reaching out to each end. It looked like someone trying to carry a wide sofa on their own. Within moments the container was settled onto the back of a truck and driven away. Fascinated, as I have always been by large and unusual machinery, I stayed and watched the whole process all over again with another container and truck, marvelling at the minds that had invented something like this.

Mercardo Puerto
Crossing the road, I entered into the Port Market once again. It had the same craziness that I had experienced when I was there yesterday, filled with people and action everywhere. There was one particular place that had caught my attention yesterday though, and it was to here that I wanted to return, although it took me from one end of the market to the other before I found it.

This place that was actually a proper restaurant with tables and waiter service, but where I was was actually around the back of the kitchen. Here there was a row of stools tucked in tightly against a long bench, the length of the restaurant, and most of the stools were already occupied. I made my way down the narrow ailse and sat myself on an empty stool. Looking around I realised that if the main Market area was chaos, then this was where it all started.

My position afforded me a great view of the kitchen, being only two feet away from the action. The whole kitchen was logically divided into various sections. There was one for the meat which sat on a large open fire grill, busily attened to by this chef. Another section catered only for the fish, with the salad, pastas, and fried foods all in a line. The whole area was divided into two very narrow lanes by shelving that housed the places and other items needed to run the kitchen.

There was barely enough room down these lanes for even one person to fit through comfortably, yet many times there would be two or more people that would squeeze themselves past the others, often with their hands full of hot plates and fresh food. In amongst all of this action, the table waiters from the main restaurant section would dash in to grab plates and meals, ducking and weaving as they went.

Each chef was working furiously, constantly adding more to the stove as quickly as they took it off. The dishwasher and general cleanup guy worked methodically at his job, trying to stay out of the way of the others. Only one person looked after the thirty of us sitting at the bench, and he did his job admirably. The action around me kept me entertained as I enjoyed my lunch of asado which is a large portion of cut ribs, and french fries. It occurred to me later that perhaps I should have included vegetables, but it was an effort to finish what I had already ordered.

The Movies
Satiated, I headed toward the other end of Old Town, hoping to make a tourist bus that would take me around the entire city although knowing full well that my chances were almost nill. As I expected, I was too late, and there was not a lot of time left to visit other parts of the city since I was told that many parts of this city became very dangerous at night. Rather than risk a bad move, I decided to head to the cinema instead.

I was almost too late for the film I wanted to see also, so when I discovered the doors to the cinema were locked I became very confused. Fortunately an employee arrived to open the doors, telling me that there is another cinema just around the corner where my film is playing. My ticket costs US$2.50 and includes popcorn and a drink.

The cinema was a huge old style place with a grand total of four of us watching the film. As I sat down, I sank deeply into the vinyl covered fold-up seat bottom, something reminiscent of the 70’s. Fortunately, during this film there was no intermission and for that I was grateful. However, at the end of the film, as the final credits started to roll, the projetor was turned off and the house lights came on. The movie was over, there was no doubt about it.

I stopped in at an Internet cafe for a short time and scribbled some more about my activities then ducked back in for a second film. I figured that it would be good to go out this night for once, and watching a film seemed a good way to get me to the magic hour when people started appearing. It was the same situation once again, with only a few of us watching the film until the final credits were abruptly stopped. End of film.

Night Life
It was now time to see what sort of night life was in this city. I wandered around the place for what seemed like a long time, and all I found was a movie set. Although this provided some brief entertainment watching the set being prepared so it looked like it had been raining, I did not find the night life as I was expecting. Nor did I find any people around either. There was only a couple of people walking down the main party streets. Perhaps this was because it was a Monday night, notorious for having very little action in many countries.

So after my uneventful attempt at going out without any specific directions, I returned to my hostel and watched some television before turning in for a good sleep. Tomorrow I would get up a little earlier and see if I can see the rest of this place before dark.