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¡Tu tienes correo! (You’ve got mail)

I am unreasonable excited by the fact that I got mail delivered by Correo Uruguayo to my new apartment in this brand new building. How you get the mail is one of those little things that differs from place to place. In Uruguay, at least in my town of Altántida, homes do not have mailboxes. Unless they have fenced-in yards, in which case a mailbox is bolted to the fence with just a front slot but an opening on the other side for removing the mail. We don’t have that. Just a gravel driveway and a dirt-becoming-grass patch in front of each modest apartment.

I was really unclear if we needed to do something to let the postal service know we existed here, that this building even existed. Also, there are no street numbers to buildings in Atlántida, so you give your address in various informal ways, like (in Spanish of course), “7th Street at the corner of Pine”, or “General Artigas across from the Bank”. If you have named your home with a big sign out front, you add that. Our complex has a name, but absolutely no sign, so we are just Apto 3 at the corner of two streets.

But which street to name first? It is an L-shaped building, and Aptos 1 & 2 are on one street, while 3-5 are on the other. Do I go by where the building starts? Do I go by the larger of the two streets? Do I go by the bizarre-to-me Padrón, Manzana, and Solar? Do I place it between the two avenues rather than on the corner? Plus do I include the unposted and perhaps simply informal name? Mysteries upon enigmas 🙂

But resolution comes in the form of two pieces of mail slipped under the door Wednesday and Thursday. The water bill, and the electric bill. Both arrived. Both with forms of addresses different from anything I have given out. Each different from the other!

I think I’m going to send myself a letter. Or three. See which ones get here.

Southern Cone Radio

I am really starting to like radio broadcasting in Uruguay. Especially the state-run Radio Clásica 650AM from Montevideo. The broadest mix of classical genres I’ve come across in a while, uninterrupted. Neither by commercials like WQXR or WNCN back in the day in NYC, nor incessant pledge requests like Seattle’s now-nonprofit KING-FM, even on their excellent HD-subchannels HD2 “Evergreen” favorites and HD3 All-Symphonic.

Where else do you hear the full choral version of Wagner’s Bridal Chorus from his opera Lohngrein (http://is.gd/y2wSBY); a piece we no longer hear as “real music” but just as the “Wedding March”? Or on 2 or 3 weekdays at mid-day, several hours of a program they quaintly after the film call Cinema Paradiso with all film scores? Including some world music and vocal pieces if the were on the film score. Then a long segment of baroque music, including my favorite the harpsicord. On other days, the mid-day is full of works by the Romantics, or other programmatic music. Then there are the Masses, chants, other religious works, and lots of symphonies and operas spread around the clock. Chamber music too.

As both an old AM Radio DJ, and a long-term “radioaficionado” Shortwave Listener and Amateur Radio license holder, I have a special place in my heart for radio communications, over many of these “new fangled” means of interaction. Even though I use Facebook, Google+, Twitter, online entertainment and information since back in the CompuServe days, radio in any of its forms is “the old girl I’ll never get over.”

I haven’t checked out much from neighboring countries yet. At night, I can get some AM stations from Brasil and Argentina, but I’ve mostly been listening to my favorite “Tango en Media Luz” (Tango by Half-light), the nightly 90-minute program on 1950’s-style Radio Monte Carlo, of which I’ve previously blogged from my 2-week September stay. Again, a program named after a famous piece. Reminds me of one of the stations I worked at in the 1970s where they named their specialty shows things like “Bound for Glory” and “Sentimental Messenger”.

Of course, the idea of music on the radio being transmitted over mono AM to a small radio is so “Eisenhower’s America”, a phrase often used as shorthand to explain Uruguay to estadosunidenses (that’s “Americans” to you folks back in the USA who like to appropriate the name of the entire two continents for your-still-kinda-my country.)

I also haven’t used the shortwave bands on my Grundig radio much here, despite having a really long wire attached to it that my wife Lisa hated in our temporary apartment. Though it did remind her of me when I wasn’t there. Once maybe caught the 1800 local 2000 UTC (GMT to you old-schoolers) BBC News. There is no English language media here in Uruguay. At all. Absolutamente nada.

The upside to that is I am starting to understand some of the “Informaticos Monte Carlo – Noticias del Mundo” bombastic-style news broadcasts. For example, this morning I learned there is a big fire in the Rocha province near Punta del Diablo, and they had interviews with the chief of the Bomberos (firefighters). About 6 km length along the interbalnearia from what I could make out. Also they reported that Occupy Boston had been set upon by the BPD again and 46 protestors had been arrested. That was clearer to me in Spanish than if eternal-Mayor of Boston Mumbles Menino had said it to me in person right in Gov Center in his bizarre variant, even to me the Boston native, of so-called English. Finally Sra. La Presidenta de Argentina Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (aka Evita II), made a fiery speech saying “I am not just the president of some Argentines, I am the president of all 40 million Argentines”. Good for you, CFK. Could you do something about how badly they drive when they come here to Uruguay on holiday?

President Fernandez follows me on Google+ in her Circles, so I am looking forward to her reply when I link to this there. Though after my “Evita II” comment, I guess I won’t be able to use the Buquebus to Buenos Aires anymore for my 90-day “visa hop”. Guess I better get that permanent residency permit application going before them! (Just joking, Cristina, you know I love you! And your beautiful country. On the other side of the river. Even though you stole the Tango from us. I’m not making this better, am I? You’ll still let me come there and spend American Dollars, right? There, that’s better.)

SODRE official site for 1050AM Radio Uruguay News/talk/music and Radio Clásica 650AM:
http://www.radiouruguay.com.uy with links for listening on the web.

Also streaming at: http://www.streamingthe.net/Radio-Sodre-Clasica-650-AM-Montevideo/p/19506

Radio Monte Carlo, “Desde Montevideo, Capital de la Republica Oriental del Uruguay, la Superradio!” (yes, that is how they do station identification. 4x per hour. Don’t get me going on their singing time and temperature jingles.) http://www.radiomontecarlo.com.uy/

List of many other Uruguay radio stations, most with streaming links: http://www.uruguaytotal.com/08_prensa/radios.htm

Hearts in Atlantis

With apologies to Stephen King for appropriating his title.

I am still in Atlántida, Uruguay for 4 more days, until I must leave for home in Tacoma, WA, with 2 days in Lima, Peru on the way back, and possibly a few days at my soon-to-be former home of Dillon, Colorado.

Google Translate, and many human lesser-skilled translators attempting English from their native Spanish, often translate “Atlántida” as “Atlantis”. Which makes it even more alluring. Hail Atlantis!

After 11 days here, I find myself even more encantado at this lovely old worn-down resort town. I’ve fallen into a rhythm of doing some online work in the mornings, listening to some local radio or watching a bit of Montevideo TV. Then in midday or when US-online calls, emails are done, wander through town. Usually stop at some marketplace to pick up a fresh pepper, tomatoes. Maybe at the smaller supermarket if need other items, but always swinging by one of the fruit stands for the produce. Smelling the parillas starting to smoke with the unique wood that “smells like Uruguay” (a topic for a future post.)

Saying hola to the perros y gatos in the neighborhood and “buenas” to my neighbors. Perhaps wandering towards the beach via the small downtown, or just heading back to our courtyard, leaving the door open to hear the sounds of the old woman three doors down when she returns in her cab with her groceries, to help her up the walkway.

My heart is truly in Atlantis.

English Broadcasts in Uruguay (Get a SW Radio!)

That’s the question. Short answer, there aren’t any. Especially if you’re traveling, or living as an expat, on the cheap.

Indispensable companion: A good, compact, sensitive multiband (shortwave) radio, and a wire antenna.

Personally I have and love the Grundig G6 Aviator radio*, about the size of a pack of cigarettes. Digital tuner, 20 banks of 7 memories each, so you can organize by band. Three alarms. Sleep timer (I fall asleep to el Tango, recuerdo?) You can find it as low as $65USD online, especially for the “Buzz Aldrin Edition” – the same radio, with an image of Buzz on the Moon.

In North America I get plenty of shortwave from Europe, Central America, and Australasia with just the built in telescoping whip antenna.

Down here in the Southern Cone, where essentially zero English-language broadcasts are aimed, almost nada. Plugging in a long retractable wire antenna hung on a nail upstairs in the loft and draped down to my easy chair, I can pull in the BBC World Service broadcasts aimed towards Southern Africa. 2000 GMT, or 5pm Uruguay Standard Time (1700), I got them, weakly but understandably over headphones on both 9410kHz and 11810kHz. You can pick up a Kaito or Sangean retractable wire antenna about 10m long for under $20USD. Well worth it.

There are no doubt more to be found. I did get a bit of Radio Nederland Worldwide in English as well. Probably from their transmitter in Bonaire. When I come back down here I’m bringing the new edition of the World Radio TV Handbook (WRTH) with me. And an even longer wire.

*Link is not a referral link, just the Google shopping page. I may change it to an Amazon referral link in the future.

Pizza Cones in the Southern Cone

Frozen Pizza Cones, that look like an Ice Cream Cone made of pizza.

The concept is amazing. This is advanced South American Science.

More tomorrow after I try one.

Visiting Uruguay? Get the only dedicated English guidebook.

Great resource for visitors & expats! New revised 2nd version! All other Uruguay English-language guidebooks are just re-prints of Uruguay chapters of general South America or Argentina guides. This Bradt guide is a full-length all-Uruguay guidebook.

Visiting Colorado? Get the best guide to Breckenridge!

Written by former Breckenridge Historical Society guide Lisa Marie Mercer.

Books by Travel & Fitness Writer Lisa Marie Mercer

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