Monday, February 14, 2005

Finally made it to Buenos Aires. After 5 days in Choi where Gisel renewed her passport we then got the local bus into Montevideo and it wasn't even checked!

So only a day in Montevideo which is a shame. It's beautiful but somewhat faded by Uruguay's economic decline. Uruguay is basically a small but once fairly affluent farming country which exports mainly aggricultural products, beef and leather to Europe and Argentina. It's obviously been hit by the Argentinian crisis and general decline of this sector. And there's now high unemployment. But it has a small population of around 3.4 million, and very high literacy rate (96%) so the fallout is less noticable.

It feels so much safer than Brazil. No 10 foot fences in front of everyone's house. We walked around the centre of Montevideo at 3 am in the morning (along with many other tourists and locals) without feeling the slightest bit threatened. You see less homelessness than London. People are very friendly. In Brazil, even in the small beach town we stayed at a few days ago, everyone was hiding behind locked gates.

A similar beach in Uruguay (Ponto del diablo) was very open. Mainly traditional thatched fisherman's cottages, rentable Swiss-style challet's and camp sites incongrously along the fairly windswept coast. The beaches are sandy but the water's about the same temperature as the UK, so Brazilians wouldn't come here, but lots of Argentinian tourists.

Pics soon.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Update : a map of Uruguay, no Chui but look at where Brazil meets Uruguay meets the sea.
OK, I´m still alive. Currently in Chui on the Brazil - Uruguay border (at the coast at the right of the map), which is a kind of tax-free shopping paradise. We should be in Montevideo but discovered Gisel´s passport had expired when we reached the border and were dumped off the bus. Looks like we´ll be here until Wednesday to sort that, and will then head to Argentina as fast as possible.

Notes on Social Forum and border-towns coming soon ... :-)