Yerba Maté

Yerba Maté (pronounced mah-teh) is not just tea, it is a way of life and a cultural tradition that you can see everywhere in Uruguay. From an office worker on his/her way to work to a gaucho – folks carry their mate cups called gourds, straws called bombilla and hot water thermos everywhere they go. Some even have a fancy leather carrying case just for their maté. Morning or evening it is always maté time.

While Joe and I were flying from Santiago Chile to Montevideo our plane had the entire Montevideo futbol team Cerro on it.  Many of the players had their maté essentials with them for the flight. That was the first time we had seen the complete set including the leather carrying case.

There is a process to making Yerba Maté the right way.  I am not in any way an expert but I have drunk it many times over the past several years but never in the gourd. I will tell you what I have read and heard about that process. First folks have their favorite brand of maté, they come in pretty large bags the size of a 5 lb sack of flour is the largest I have seen down to very small bags.

You put the dry Yerba Maté into your cup, add a small amount of hot water, not boiling, to wet the maté which activates it.  Allow about 30 seconds for the water to infuse the leaves. Fill the cup with more water and insert the straw called the bombilla. You do not move the bombilla once inserted, no stirring, no messing with the bombilla. If offered a cup of maté you would drink the entire cup, no stirring the straw and return to the owner. Sharing a cup of maté is a very common practice here.  Locals refill the cup until the thermos of hot water is empty. Using the maté grounds 4 or 5 times. And many restaurants will sell just hot water for your mate – there are even vending machines for just hot water.

Uruguayans as well as many Argentinians enjoy this tea all day long.  I have even heard stories that folks wake up early, have their maté and then go back to bed.

Below are just a few examples of the complete set being sold in the mall currently.

Now lets talk bombillas. Oh my, what a selection is available here. Most I have seen have been silver, with all different types of screens to stop the leaves from coming up the straw.

Just another cultural difference that we are learning about.

Plaza Matriz, Ciudad Vieja, Montevideo

Another of our adventures took us to Plaza Matriz. You can see for yourself just how lovely this urban park is.

montevideo-2-1-24montevideo-2-1-12 montevideo-2-1-11

montevideo-2-1-23 montevideo-2-1-10Large leafed out trees surround this beautiful central fountain with benches just waiting for weary adventurers like Joe and I.  The park surrounded by buildings on all sides, shopping and restaurants on the bottom floors and probably a mix of apartment and offices above.   montevideo-2-1-8The Cathedral faces the park on one side.montevideo-2-1-6Several vendors even had tables set up with a mix of new items and used items for sale.  One table was filled with what looked to be antique silver from flatware to tea and coffee pots.montevideo-2-1-5The city has closed some of the streets leading into the park, allowing for pedestrian traffic to roam freely.

montevideo-2-1-9And a busker was playing music for our enjoyment.  And, how great for us, it was in English.  See video below.


Oh BOY! Salmon

A quick walk from our apartment we come to the port in Buceo, Montevideo. At the port there are several fishmongers, a small fruit and vegetable stand, a trinket shop as well as El Italian Restaurant.  Our first visit I saw the most beautiful salmon filet that looked fresh and I HAD TO HAVE IT.

montevideo-1-22-1The small fruit and veggie stand had some very nice green beans so that is what I bought to have with the salmon.

montevideo-1-22-5Most things here are sold by the kilo and that was not a problem with me because I was open for fresh fish for a few days in a row.

montevideo-1-22-8For lunch that day I made it with this outrageous Asian sauce.  It had soy sauce, fresh grated ginger, garlic, a few slices of hot red pepper for a nice punch, honey (sorry I miss Eva Honey, Eva is our neighbor in San Clemente and that is the most flavorful honey I have ever had) a grind of salt and a bit of pepper.  Heat that in a small sauce pan and top your sautéed salmon with it.  YUMMY YUMMY YUMMY

So we had two nice pieces for our next lunch, yes I can eat fish every day of the week.

montevideo-1-23-2I served the same sauce but a bit more ja ja as I love the sauce as much as the fish.  And I served it with a fresh salad and even added peach slices to the salad and made a yogurt dressing with a bit of honey and herbs and spice.

Well the salmon was a huge success and we will have it again very soon. One problem we really need to try more of the local fish as well. So we will see what I pick next.

PS I know this is farm raised in Chile. I know all about the antibiotics but honestly we just had to have it.  We will not be eating it every day so once in awhile I will take the plunge and have salmon….

Starting the Uruguay Residency Process

Before moving we did a great deal of soul-searching and researching (mostly Joe did a great deal of research on Uruguay while I did the research in getting our documents from the US and we both did the soul-searching) and found blog articles, pictures and much much more on the internet about Uruguay.  It was the same process we had done for previous moves and it has worked well for us.

We decided to use a law firm to handle our residency process as we did in the past.  We feel more comfortable with someone who knows the ins and outs of the migration laws instead of trying to handle it by ourselves or using a facilitator that only does it part-time.  We decided to use the firm Fischer and Schickendantz, and so far it has been an exceptionally good experience.  Dr. Juan Federico Fischer was our first contact and he explained the process, the documents needed and what the firm could and would do for us.  Then he turned us over to his support staff.

Over a 6 month period we gathered the documents needed from the states, submitted them back to the Secretary of State where each document originated and we waited for them to arrive.  It was torture, every one seemed to take longer than normal and we were 2 weeks away from our move date and finally received the last documents we were waiting for.  Helping through this process was EcuaAssist in Manta, Ecuador.  Adriana Rosado was a dream to work with and took away a great deal of the anxiety we were feeling over this paperwork.

Our first appointments for this process went better than expected.  Here in Uruguay you are required to go to a health clinic and receive a Health Card. As part of our check-up we were asked if we had ever had a tetanus shot, well I have but it was over 10 years ago and Joe had never had one, so we both got shots.  Because I have had it before I will need to have two more shots one within a month and one after a year.  Then we are both good for 10 years.  God willing we will live that long.

The photo below is of our attorneys office and the assistant that is working with us on our residency. Magdalene has been a treasure trove of information helping us way beyond her job requirements.  Because we are spending time waiting at appointments she gladly shares all her knowledge about the area.

montevideo-2-1-3We have been to Interpol for our background checks and met with migration at two different offices.  We will be able to pick up our cedulas on Wednesday.

Then we will be off to visit some of the other coast towns north of here. The adventure continues……

Thank You Ecuador, Hello Uruguay

It has been an amazing seven years. We have lived in several different cities and visited many more in our time in Ecuador.

We are sad in many ways in leaving Ecuador and excited in many ways for yet another adventure. It was a difficult decision to make the move, leaving behind many great friends, but we have all those wonderful memories.

Our new adventure started on January 17th, saying good-bye to our neighbors and neighborhood and making our journey to Guayaquil.  The next morning we traveled by Latam from Guayaquil to Santiago, Chile and then on to Montevideo, Uruguay.

It was a very easy trip with overnight hotel stays both in Guayaquil and Chile. We made it and arrived at our new apartment on January 20th.

montevideo-1-20-13The apartment located on 26 de Marzo has a beautiful view of the water.  Small and compact it will be a breeze to keep clean.montevideo-1-20-2montevideo-1-20-3montevideo-1-20-4montevideo-1-20-6montevideo-1-20-7montevideo-1-20-8montevideo-1-20-9montevideo-1-20-10montevideo-1-20-11Montevideo is a big city with much to see and do.  I will be posting as we travel around the area looking for our more permanent home. We are now in the Buceo, or Nuevo Pocitos, area of Montevideo and enjoying it – we are right by their World Trade Center, Buceo Yacht Club and Montevideo Shopping Mall.