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.

 

Getting Around Town: The Bus Edition

Not a lot of people in Montevideo own cars. The majority of people either walk or take the bus to get around town. This results in a couple of things:

1. There aren’t a whole lot of cars on the road. But beware, cars have the right-of-way here unless there is a stoplight or a crosswalk painted with white diagonals. This can be a pain in the butt at a busy street, but jay-walking is a common occurrence.

2. There are a whole lot of people on the bus. There are many stops (“paradas”) and many different routes that take people to all corners of the city and the suburbs. The buses don’t have air conditioning. It would be pointless with all the people and all the stops; the windows just stay open.

We all took our first trip on the bus yesterday to the frisbee fields in town. Luckily we had the help of a new-found ultimate frisbee friend who came to our house to get us. He showed us which bus to take and how to actually do it. We were all a little worried, as we had seen tons of buses but couldn’t figure out how one would actually pay to ride. The bus costs $19 pesos, about $1US, for each ride. You can purchase a more expensive 2 hour ticket if you want, which allows you to ride as many different buses for that amount of time, but I think that’s still a bit advanced for us.

Our friend showed us where the nearest bus stop was to our house and which bus to take. In every bus there is a driver and a ticket seller. The ticket seller sits on one side of the bus and will take your money and give you a ticket in exchange. He will also give you change if you need it. After you have gotten your ticket you either find a seat (rare during peak hours), or you hoof it as far back as you can in the bus and try not to fall over.

We got to see a lot of the city during the hour long ride to the fields. Not all rides take this long, but the fields that the City of Montevideo has given the ultimate team to play on are in the suburbs. We are told that there’s not a shorter way to get to the fields unless you want to pay for a taxi. Ah well, sometimes time seems to have a different meaning here anyway.