Back for 2013, Just a Little Late

So I think the last place we left you was with Matt in Thailand and Asa and I in some kind of crazy limbo living situation.

Well, I am happy to report that we moved into a nice two bedroom apartment near the beach in Jacksonville. We are planning on being here until August when I will surely have a job. Regardless of the job situation, we will find ourselves seeking a new abode somewhere.

Being near the beach is great and we are within biking distance of the grocery store, the gym, the bank, restaurants, the beach, and a dog park. Riding our bikes has been great and we hope to keep up the habit regardless of where we end up.

In other news, Asa will be trying out for Team USA (Ultimate Frisbee) in a couple weeks. This year’s competition is called the World Games and it will be held in August in Cali, Colombia. The USA is taking a 13 person mixed gender squad to compete. We’ll keep you posted on any news we hear.

With that, I think I’ve caught you up on the major events of the past couple months (yeah, not a lot going on). I will try to be better with posting fun stuff we do around Jacksonville. I even pulled out and charged my camera in anticipation!

I’ll just leave you with some nice pics of the St. Augustine Turtle Trot (5K) that Asa’s mom and I ran together a couple weeks ago. I won third place in my age group and got an awesome hand-carved wooden turtle medal (that the cat promptly knocked of our table and the dog promptly ate!).

Us after the race!

Us after the race!


The beach at St. Augustine. Flat, warm, and sandy!


Cars are allowed to drive/park on the beach as long as they have 4-wheel drive and pay the parking fee. I had to laugh at the little sedan that we saw driving down there. Hope they didn’t get stuck!


Journey Along the Ramblas

On Friday’s long run I decided to take photos to document my adventure and show you guys where I run every day. It was a bit chilly with a temp of about 48 to start with and the wind was blowing about 15-20 mph.

The “Before” Picture

I decided to head towards the airport and away from the city on my long run. At the point is the end of Pocitos and there is a little park there.

Park at the point.

On the other side of the point is a bus depot. This is where buses go to rest and get cleaned. (mile 1)

I’m not quite sure what this is, but my guess is some kind of waterway ūüôā

This is the Buceo yacht club and marina.

There is a nice grassy area to run on instead of the pavement. In the distance you can almost see one of the only “hills” on the route.

Yet another deserted little beach (gotta remember that it’s probably about 50 degrees and a little cold for beach going).

View of the Buceo marina from the top of the “hill”.

Looking the other way down the “hill”. I can’t decide whether these paths are made solely by people or also by mowers.

This is an oceanographic museum that I haven’t been to yet. (mile 2)

Around the corner from the museum is yet another beach (Buceo Beach) and more paths to run on.

Looking back at the museum.

Top of the second “hill” on the route and there’s a little playground.

This is the “Nautical Club”, another small yacht club.

This is the view coming up on Malvin beach. Tons of high-rises lining the road. (mile 3)

Malvin beach. We played ultimate out at that point once. Yep, still windy!

This is the view from Malvin Beach looking back at Pocitos. Just to the left of the museum is a wide building. To the left of that is Pocitos, or I should say, home.

The point at Malvin beach. There is some exercise equipment here that anyone strolling along the Ramblas can use.

Yet another beach awaited me as I rounded the corner. Honda Beach.

Turnaround point at Honda Beach. (mile 4)

This is zoomed in a little so that you can see the buildings in the background. That’s home. So far from home. I passed all the same landmarks on the way home. The only difference, I had the wind in my face. Yuck!

Yep, I made it back home and really the only evidence I have are the sweat stains on my very pink hat!

Here’s the google maps version of my run if you’re interested!

The Neighborhood

I thought I would take this opportunity to show everyone what the neighborhood is like around our apartment. At the first place we stayed I didn’t necessarily feel comfortable wandering around with my camera and acting like a tourist. The neighborhood we are in now seems much more friendly and affluent and I feel much more comfortable here.

Some stats on our apartment:

– We are two blocks from the beach

– We are 6 blocks from a Devoto (a large grocery store chain)

– We are 3 blocks from the nearest chivito restaurant

– We are within 2 blocks of, not one, but four bus stops

– We are within walking distance of Shopping Montevideo (a large shopping mall, about a 20 min walk)

– We are 1 block away from the farmer’s market on Fridays and 6 blocks from a farmer’s market on Wednesdays

– We are within 2 blocks of a bank

– We are 3 blocks from the nearest place to buy fresh empanadas

The neighborhood is mostly apartment buildings that have about 6-10 floors. Almost all the apartment buildings have lobbies with doormen. This means that no matter where you are going or at what time, you are being watched. This may sound a bit creepy, but it’s actually quite comforting to know that if something happened, someone would have seen it and be there to help.

There are a lot of people in the neighborhood which means that the sidewalks are sometimes busy and the streets are sometimes hard to cross (that is mostly because pedestrians don’t have the right of way) during rush hour. Many of the car garages have warning alarms so that pedestrians know to look out for a car coming in or out. These warning alarms always seem to go off late at night or early in the morning. Go figure!

Most of the apartments have balconies or at least large windows. When the weather is good, there is an abundance of laundry hanging out to dry on those balconies, or sometimes the rooftops.

The trees that line the streets are tall, reaching to the 9th floor in some places. At this point, most of the leaves have fallen or are on their way to the ground.

The beach is friendly. People walk and take their dogs to play there most days, weather permitting. It is a great place to throw a frisbee or have a little beach ultimate tournament. The city takes pretty good care of the beach. They rake the sand every once in a while and haul off garbage that the tide brings in. The Ramblas runs along the beach and makes a great place to walk, run, bike, or just enjoy the view while sitting in one of the many benches. I frequent the Ramblas most days for my morning run. There are always people using it!

The neighborhood also seems to have an abundance of construction going on. Fixing the sidewalks seems to be a common occurrence. There are also a couple large construction sites where whole apartment buildings have been demolished and new ones are being put up. Unfortunately one of these sites is catty-corner across the intersection from us. Despite the citizens of Montevideo being generally late risers, this apparently does not hold for construction workers. We wake up to the sounds of construction quite frequently, although it doesn’t seem to bother me much.


Windy Montevideo

The weather here in Montevideo is amazingly similar to that in Atlanta. It is very hot in the summer and a bit chilly in the winter. We’ve been told that it doesn’t snow here, but it appears to be very humid all year long. There were thunderstorms in the summer and it has been getting very windy as we get into the fall.

Montevideo is situated on the Rio Plata which means that it’s beaches don’t get a lot of surf and the water is usually a glassy calm. That is, until the wind comes up! When it gets windy it kicks up the surf on the beaches and throws waves over the Ramblas, making the cobbles slippery and running on them treacherous.¬†I have even spotted windsurfers and kite surfers out on really windy days.

Montevideo Graffiti

Graffiti seems to be an art form here in Montevideo. Various creatures and drawings appear all over the city, sometimes with the same figure appearing multiple times. Graffiti can be found on building walls, bus stops, stairways, and public spaces. The following are just a few of the many pieces of art that I’ve seen in the city.

La Playa (i.e. the beach)

Our first visit to the beach was this weekend. People seem to flock to the beach on the weekends as early as 8:30 am. Most people just sit in chairs to sunbathe, but some wade in the water or play with a ball. We are a little dubious about the water quality, but are told the government says its safe to swim. The people we know here say they wouldn’t swim in it.

The beach has sand volleyball courts, tons of trash cans, porta-potties, and its’ very own ice cream man that yells “helados!” all day long. There are also a series of large poles, evenly spaced. They were obviously put there so that we could do beach workouts for ultimate. Right?

The beach looking back towards the neighborhood we live in.

View of the beach looking away from our neighborhood. I think all the flags are up for Carnival in 2 weeks. These are also a couple of the large evenly spaced poles I mentioned.

What did we do at the beach? What else would we do… We threw a frisbee. I think this more than anything else pegged us as tourists. That and the fact that we’re all so white. Step 1: Learn spanish. Step 2: get a tan.

Matt throwing a frisbee on the beach.

A taste of Lemanj√°

We took a quick trip to the beach to see what Raul had told us was a must sea event. He mentioned something about candles and that it was just up the Rambla on the beach. We later found out it was a festival for people to provide offerings for the water goddess, Lemanj√°. So, around 10:30 or so we set out.

As soon as we made it past the American Embassy, we could see that there were throngs of people hanging out near the beach. We walked up to the beach and it mostly seemed like aftermath of small boats washing ashore and hundreds of holes with lit candles inside. It was quite scenic and we were pretty happy with just that. Still we were disappointed that we had missed out on the festival. About the time we gave up hope, a group of people dressed in all white carrying a boat passed by us headed for the beach. As it turns out, the event isn’t over at all, groups pay tribute all night long.

The beach littered with candle divits and throngs of people

Generally, groups where about 20 people all dressed in white, some with tiki torches, some with candles and 6 or so people carrying a small boat (not because it’s heavy but because it’s a ritual). In front of the group, is someone ringing bells that sound something like sleigh bells. This group heads down the stairs to the beach and after some preparation (we were too far away to see what exactly) they lit the candles/tiki torches on the shore (sometimes there was even a candle on the boat) and waded out into the water about 500 yards to send the offerings out to sea.¬†The wind was blowing out to sea, so the boats that had candles and sails provided an impressive display as you could see them far out into the sea.

Raul was right, this was a pretty impressive spectacle. I’m glad we decided to follow his suggestion and head out to observe.