I went into this super-appealing bar/restaurant and asked the bar man what is the national drink of Uruguay and he said Grappamiel. So I said great, thank you, I’ll have one. It was tasty for sure, thick and a little sweet for a daily beverage but excellent for a treat.
Month: October 2018
The computer was right regarding the rain.
I had an umbrella and my raincoat and plastic around around my bag which protected my camera well enough but not my body that ended up soaked to the skin anyway including squishy soggy shoes that now, the next day, are still not dry.
As a matter of fact I haven’t stopped sneezing yet and I’m getting a little worried.
The bigger map shows the relationship between Montevideo and Buenos Aires while the inset is my homestay, the school, and the two big outings, to the Parliament building and to the Fort.
I see now this is not too useful, too small to read…I might do it again…but when do I ever do things again?
We rode the city bus for 40+ minutes and then we set off to walk up a crazy high hill. I walked halfway up. I could have done it if I had my own time but those kids were trotting along. And then I thumbed a ride! I got in a strangers car and asked him to please drive me ‘up there’. What a relief.
It seemed the guy was pleased about speaking English and he drove me around the whole fort pointing out this building and that, the ‘real Montevideo’ meaning the poor area, parts of the port, and more. Thanks car guy!
While I waited for the gang to finish the walk I got to chat it up with these fellows which was a kick. I understood less than half of what they said but nodding and smiling and asking an occasional question kept the whole thing going.
I did learn many things and especially that Uruguay, and especially for its size, has a large military presence in conflict zones as part of the UN Peacekeeping Force.
They told me about the flag, the flag of Artigas and the revolution.
The story on these murals: In August 2016, Asunción was the first non-Peruvian city to host LatidoAmericano, a Latin American festival for urban art.
“During the week-long festival, the artists worked passionately on the rediscovery of Paraguay. The end result is amazing: 44 murals in 40 different places, done by 35 artists from 12 different countries. Many different styles and techniques united by the spirit of Latin America and the mystic history of Asunción.”
They call wineries here bodegas which has caused me no end of word-search because I just couldn’t get it in my head for bodega to mean winery since it has such a different meaning in the US.
This is Bodega Juanicó, among the best winery tours I’ve very taken, or that I can remember taking anyway.
From their website: we “show the combination of nature and the fascinating wine`s ambience, achieving an exceptional mix to awake your senses. You will know its ancient historic quarter, really special because of its history, the vineyards and the charming natural environment.”
At the new hotel the guy at the desk and another guest who was chatting too, both recommended this steak place as the best meal in Asuncion, so I decided to go for lunch.
And yes indeed the steak was truly delicious, and I couldn’t resist the big bowl of cheesy rice or the cassava fries, and red wine? Oh yes please, I’ll have red wine.
After this meal I went back to my comfy hotel, looked out my big ol’ window and slept until five pm.
Both wineries have been in operation from the days of the concrete tanks which you can see above the newer stainless ones.
They were my biggest surprise. Here’s something I copied from the internet: “For centuries, European vintners used monstrous concrete tanks to ferment and store their wines, a technique used in California’s oldest wineries before Prohibition.
“But when the state’s wine industry blossomed in the 1970s and 1980s, many wineries turned to stainless steel.
“Now, concrete is making a comeback. North Coast wineries are trying an old technique in a new way, installing small, portly concrete tanks that look like creatures from another world.”
I organized a private tour for the day to get out of town and see a little more than just Asuncion. I agreed to go with Raul who only spoke Spanish because getting an English speaker would cost double. I got to practice Spanish and get some pointers too.
Our first stop is probably the most well-known, Luque, home to a long street of jewelry stores specializing in gold and silver filigree.
Between my two excellent tours and Wikipedia I have learned a lot. For example, mate, terere, and the difference between the two.
First I should mention Guaraní (pronounced Goo-a-rah-NI), is the name of and the language of the local people and the name of the money. The language is widely used and many Guaraní words are part of the Spanish vocabulary, including mate and terere.
So mate “is prepared by steeping dried leaves of yerba mate in hot water and is served with a metal straw from a shared hollow calabash gourd.” People are drinking mate now from a metal cup with leather insulation.
And terere “is an infusion of yerba mate, similar to mate but prepared with cold water and ice rather than with hot, and in a slightly larger vessel.” I’ve been seeing everyone drink terere out of uninsulated metal cups.
You just put the chopped yerba mate leaves into the cup, pour water over, hot or cold depending, and then drink the beverage through the straw. You can see the way the leaves get filtered out through the straw in the lower left.
Also notice the thermoses, large and small, found in every car and beside every person who is just sitting around. One drinks mate only in the early morning and terere all day long.
Wow this was fun. The guy behind the bar is a big contest winner of several years, the best bartender in Brazil according to three different waiters who came up to me while I was watching him teach the bartenders how to make several different drinks.
The were all speaking Portuguese except from time to time the bartender would catch me up in English and then as they were passing around the finished beverage I ended up ‘in the line’ and got to sample them all. It was a full hour for about four drinks and a delightful hour it was.
It looks like the clay is fired, then painted, then lightly fired again or maybe painted with a shellac since it doesn’t feel like a glaze – I’m not sure of the technique.
Should you want to buy something, the money in Paraguay is called the guaraní and because of inflation guaraní has a lot of zeros. One thousand guaraní is worth seventeen cents.
Lake Ypacarai. There’s a whole genre of sentimental music the surrounds this lake – we listened to several of the songs on youtube.
I wanted to see the place shown in the video but no luck because in real life the lake has not been cared for and the pollution from up-stream factories is untreated. Raul was not pleased about this.
The teenage daughter made us a selfie.
Asuncion is not a big city but it has big city traffic problems. It took us two hours to get something like eighteen kilometers. It took Raul three hours to get home on this Friday night. Crazy, right?
I’m leaving at the crack of dawn to get to the bus station for the eight hour transfer to Puerto Iguazu in Argentina. I have to cross three borders – Paraguay to Brazil, Brazil to Argentina. I could have organized this more efficiently!
And Raul was outside the hotel waiting to take me to the bus station. He slept less than I did.