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Live, Work, and Retire in Uruguay

Enjoying Life to the Fullest

June 13, 2016
by Enjoying Life to the Fullest!
2 Comments

Live, Work, and Retire in Uruguay

Map of Uruguay After blogging for several years under my name, I decided I enjoy this enough that I want to focus on Uruguay and travel in Latin America.

Uruguay = Tranquility

Which is why I live, work and …..well almost retire….. in Uruguay!

Join me, will you, as I explore Uruguay and the wonderful land with kilometers of beaches, lots of friendly people and unending delicious, fresh food!

October 26, 2017
by Enjoying Life to the Fullest!
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Simplemente Uruguay

Hey there!

What is the difference between Uruguay when this video was made and the Uruguay I know and love today?  I’ll tell you in a minute.  But first I want to share this lovely video made in 2010.  We were sitting here watching it just now and remarking that this is the Uruguay we know.  Because we live in Punta del Este, we don’t suffer the problems of the big city of Montevideo, and we don’t have to live with some of the ugly things that any big city has anywhere in the world.  On the other hand, Montevideo isn’t really that big, and it has some very lovely things about it.

But as anyone knows, there is always a beautiful side to any country, and there are always good things to say. But after living here for two years, and after experiencing the place, the culture, the people, the food, and the ocean beaches, all we can say is that it has to be one of the best decisions we ever made to move here!  Enjoy the video!

Simplemente Uruguay

So what has changed?

The food, the agriculture, the beaches, the people, the peacefulness are all the same!  In the past few years, the educational system has been slowly degrading to a point of being unacceptable in many places throughout the country.  However, there is a new effort that has begun this year with vigor of heads of the educational department, along with teachers, politicians and others in government.  They have been meeting to plan a 10-year re-organization of the educational system to put Uruguay back on track.

How do I know this is happening for sure?  One of the teachers at the school where I teach, International College in Punta del Este, has been invited to attend for the third time in the last couple of months to contribute if she has any ideas.

The cost of living has gone up.  You certainly cannot live a luxurious life on $1500 a month in Punta del Este or Montevideo.  But you can certainly live comfortably on $2800 a month if you eat fresh food and enjoy the out of doors.  If you eat out regularly, restaurants are moderately expensive and you will need to up that amount to $3000 for a couple, and possibly more.  We don’t eat out much because we prefer the abundance of fresh food and delicious meat, poultry and fish available here.

Recently I read where someone said all you could buy was frozen fish from Chile. You can do that.  You can also get up early on Sunday morning and go down to the port and buy fresh fish from the ocean caught that morning that you can take home and freeze or fry or bake or whatever you want.  It does require getting out of bed and getting down to the market.  Sigh!  What hard work!

There are disparities of rich and poor; there may be racism, but I think you have to look for it because the area is so white! That’s not a judgement, rather an observation.  I’m sure racism exists in some form because it exists everywhere there are people, and some always think they are more special than others, or more entitled.  That is not the feeling you get here though.  Being fluent in Portuguese and quickly picking up a lot of Spanish causes me to be thought of as a Brazilian — the accent gives it away.

This means I talk with a lot of people and have made several friends. I found out that an expat is not just American, European or Canadian. An expat is just as likely to be from Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Ecuador, Bolivia or Mexico.  I love the mix and enjoy all the variety that the expat community provides.

Housing is more expensive than it was 10 years ago.  It reminds me of the United States.  It was cheaper there 10 years ago too!  It’s cheaper here than where we lived in the States.  Perspective dear readers, perspective!  We have our permanent residency now, and love what we experience here.  Uruguay and everything it has to offer, has made us glad we decided to come here. It’s lovely!  It’s peaceful! It’s welcoming!  It’s Simplemente Uruguay!

 

October 7, 2017
by Enjoying Life to the Fullest!
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Here’s What Happens!

If I’m not mistaken, it has been at least one full year since I wrote in this blog.  Here’s what happens when you move to another country!

First you get exhausted and then recover from the trip.  Then everything is new and exciting.

Then reality sets in that you are no longer living “in the familiar” but are now back taking baby steps into a new life.  After a year or two — for us it will be 2 years on October 14 — you realize that there are too many happenings, too much beauty, wonderful friendships, too many things to share in a blog.

It’s very cool — but — it sort of leaves you who like to read my blogs, out in the dark, asking all sorts of questions that never get answered.  Part of that is because after you’ve lived abroad for awhile, what was new has now become the blessed familiar and brings joy to your heart!

Of course friends and family who never write don’t help the situation! ha ha ha  We lose the ability from here, and you lose the ability from wherever you are, to have meaningful communication because you no longer know what is really going on in each others’ daily life.  And…that is usually more than you can share in an email!  Right?

So how are you anyway?

Here is how we are:  we moved from Punta Ballena and Vida Loca, to an apartment in town — in the town of Punta del Este. We now live in a 3 bedroom 2 bath apartment (90 square meters), that a dear friend made available to us.  As a huge kindness to us we are only paying a little more than the “condo” fees.

But all of the allergies from the thatched roof at Vida Loca are gone and we are breathing quite nicely.  My immune system is just about fully back on track and I’m feeling great again.

The view out any of the windows gives a glimpse of the ocean. Out this view is the Atlantic Ocean.  Soon I’ll post some photos that show how gorgeous it is at night.  I switched to a new cellphone so I have to figure out how to do everything.

I’m still teaching school — business studies and English — it has been both very rewarding and incredibly hard — some experiences are like that!  I’m looking forward to teaching the equivalent of high school juniors and seniors this next year in a program called the International Baccalaureate Diploma program from the UK.  It is rigorous and yet very interesting.

I’ll try to get back here before another year goes by!

Besos/beijos

Linda

p.s. we’re on the 8th floor!  Perfect!  Storms from up here are truly impressive.

 

 

 

 

 

December 17, 2016
by Enjoying Life to the Fullest!
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Exciting News

Exciting News To Me Anyway!

This is me with a smile on my face standing beside the Chairman of the Board, Daniel Reta, of a new school in Punta del Este called International College.  We just signed my new contract as a teacher and as a founding faculty member of the newest school in Uruguay — International College.

You might ask why, after retiring from massage and the spa, would I decide to take another opportunity.  If you know me, you already know the answer to that question.  But I’ll assume you don’t!

How many people do you know who “retire” and then sit down and do nothing?  All of my life has been dedicated to doing the kinds of things that move people to a better place in their lives.  In massage, I considered it to be a kind of ministry to the physical, emotional, and even spiritual needs and wants of my clients.

international-college-contract-signing-day

This year (2016) I have been teaching very part-time at St. Clare’s College (which I shared when I first started blogging).  I taught Business Studies to middle-school kids and the first two years of high school.  I learned a lot!  (I can see some of you smiling.)

What I came to realize over the months in teaching there, and in conversations with some friends as well, is that I have something wonderful to offer as a teacher.  I wanted to make more money, sure.  But making money without making a difference would be a truly hollow experience.

I did, however, want to take on more teaching hours, but St. Clare’s already has their teaching roster in place.

Someone suggested I submit my resume at this new school, and I did so immediately.  I was also hired almost immediately because of my life experience as a teacher of many things, my education and training, and because I ended up at St. Clare’s as one of the kids’ favorite teachers!  I will be teaching two subjects – Business Studies and English/Reading Comprehension (ESL).

I’m going to include photos of this new school.  I feel privileged and honored that I get to work this next year in one of the best schools in all of Latin America.  International Colleges are being built all over the world with the latest and best resources available for both teachers and students.

The director/principle of the school is a delightful woman named Dr. Iara Lindemann, and of all things, she is Brazilian!  That is a special gift to me.  We have chattered on in Portuguese more than once.  I look forward to working with the team there.

Here are some great photos of the school.  Tonight – December 17 – we have our first big fling as a school community — and we expect over 1000 people to come to this open house.  The school is not fully completed yet, but the celebration will be wonderful.

Remember that we are in our summertime in Uruguay.  School will start in our fall which will be March, 2017.  All of us teachers will be starting school in February to learn how to operate all the most modern, up-to-date technology (which the kids can probably do in their sleep!).  I’ll keep you updated as more wonderful things unfold.

2ic-building

Above is the entire complex as it will be when completed.

3ic-library

Above is the new library and cafeteria.  There is a coffee shop as well as places for the students to buy other snacks to the left.  It will also have hours so that anyone associated with the school can come in and use the library and have a cup of coffee and a snack.

4ic-classroom

Inside each classroom there will be a “Smart Board” like the one you see in this photo.  We will be using it to teach, to engage in interactive activities and such.  You can see more photos of the school, and you will enjoy the videos and information on the official website:  http://www.ic.edu.uy/index.php/en/about-us

They decided to start with only 350 students as all of the facilities are not yet completed. However it is projected to have an enrollment of 1500 when everything is up and running.  Like I said — Exciting News!  Especially for me!

As far as living, working, and retiring in Uruguay goes — I’m doing all three!

You are welcome to visit my other blog for more information on what it’s been like for us to move to Uruguay.  www.lindawilsonsblog.com

December 9, 2016
by Enjoying Life to the Fullest!
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Food for Thought

As you know by now, we are actually living in Uruguay and have come to find out a few things we did not know before we arrived.

The main purpose of this blog is to give you information that will make moving here easier.

Today I’d like to share a very long post with you.  This will be for your thought and consideration as someone who wants to arrive here either for a few months visit, or to actually move here.

Many of us have read travel magazines that give glowing reports of all the wonderful places where expats might like to retire, or live during the cold months of the year in their home countries.  What can you believe about what you read?  And what is it like in Uruguay?

Buying Small & Large Appliances

Before we came to Uruguay, we heard all about the “low” prices here.  That’s not true any mo264205re.  We live frugally on around $2000 a month (that’s for two people).  However, the truth about things like small appliances (food processors, blenders, etc.) is that they are about the same price as in the states.  But they ARE available here!  Since electric is 240 and not 110, I proceeded to use converters that ended up not working properly and burned out 4 different small electrical items!  I replaced them with items I purchased here.

We found out that large appliances were a bit cheaper than the states — washer, dryer, refrigerator, stove.  Those are brands that are available here — either made in China or Argentina or Brazil (brand names like James, Whirlpool)

The catch to the appliance situation is that if you are looking to purchase the same brands you had in the states, you will pay dearly to do so — if you can find them.  I’ve heard expats talking about how they can’t find this or that item and then complain about how expensive it is here when they do.

Lifestyle Adaptation Issues

If you are a “regular person” (meaning you are not coming because you have barrels of money to retire on), then when you move to another country it must already be with the understanding that you are also choosing to adjust your lifestyle to another place.

It is foolish for people considering relocation, to do so without understanding that no matter which country outside the USA you move to, you will have to make adjustments. Some will be bigger than others. And some will be huge!  Prepare yourself mentally and emotionally.  Prepare your family — this is a great adventure.

If you move to the other country and can’t find your peanut butter and this is a crisis for you, then maybe you should consider the fact that most Latin countries may not have your favorite brands of anything for the same price as the USA because they have to pay import taxes.  However, many of those USA things are available –just more expensive.

Consequently, since I have a thing for peanut butter, I make my own  in my blender or with my hand blender.  Easy recipe – add roasted peanuts you can buy here, add salt to taste, add sunflower oil little by little and grind to your creamy-chunky level of satisfaction.  Ahhh what a delight!  I swear peanut butter is a food of the gods!

Organic Foodvegetables1

If you want food that is labeled “organic”, for example, the price will be nearly the same as the states in some cases.  But if you find a place that sells fruits and vegetables where the owner is conscientious about not using pesticides in the garden, you find the quality terrific and not covered with poisonous stuff.  Food tastes better here!

As in the states, it is a bureaucratic nightmare to get a small farmer certified as organic here in Uruguay too.  In Punta del Este there is a great little organic farmer’s market every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. next to the Cantegril Club.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that if a person chooses to move to a foreign country they must remember it’s called “foreign” for a reason:  it’s not a copy of the United States, nor is the food, nor are the things that are available.  So if there is something you cannot live without, think about it before you move to your chosen country, and take it with you! Or go live in the country for 6 months before you move your entire life to it.  See if you can stand — no, a better wording — accept the life of that particular place.

Government Issues

With all the angst about the way governments operate, and the desire to “flee the evil”, it might be good to remember that corruption is a matter of degrees — because it exists everywhere!  Check how the country where you are going operates, and then make an educated, intelligent decision.  Okay — you know that.

A Question of Communication

By the way some expats who are here in Uruguay talk, they are astounded at the “adjustments” they’ve had to make.  A large number of them only speak enough Spanish to go shopping a bit or ask where the bathroom is.  Certainly they do not speak enough to get to know anyone here as a friend!  Go figure.

If you couldn’t speak in English to the people in the United States whom you call friends, how friendly do you think you could continue to be?  And at what level?  Are people who want to move to another country simply wanting to buy a place and make their own little United States on their property?  This kind of stuff can drive me crazy!

Prices

We find chery-qqsome of the prices here high — gasoline is high — so we drive a small car.  We also drive a small car because cars don’t seem to loose their value.  The $7,000 we set aside to buy a used car here in Uruguay, would have bought a really decent one in the states — here we got to buy a lovely car — but smaller and more expensive than we had planned.

 

Rent prices are terrible vida-loca-house(average seems to be $1000/mo. for 800 sq.ft), but we ended up in an 800+sq.ft. house that ihome-front-entrances a lovely little thing– 2 bedroom, 1 bath, living, and kitchen/dining are for $575 a month.  This came about because a new Uruguayan “acquaintance” told us about it.

Is Social Security Sufficient?

Because our Social Security doesn’t provide us the kind of life we want to live in Uruguay, I decided to un-retire and go back to work doing something I love — teaching.  I don’t have to teach here, but since it is more expensive to live in Uruguay than we had thought, and since this is absolutely one of the most wonderful places I’ve lived in my life, I’m willing to change the plans I had.  (I have no clue how long I can do this, but I’m sure going to give it my best shot.)

As a result during all vacation times — paid vacations due to my new job — or any other time we’re invited to do something special, or to travel, I decided to change my plans and go back to working at something I love anyway, and not have to worry about having the funds to do so!  (At least this is how it is supposed to work out!)

Between the time we made the decision in the States, and the time we arrived in Uruguay, prices had jumped considerably.  We decided to give it two years, which has expanded to three now since we love it here, and I will have what I hope turns out to be a super job!

I’m not reading about Uruguay being such a cheap place to live anymore, thank goodness.  We live more reasonable because we choose to shop in some of the lesser known (to expats) areas where the Uruguayans shop because the prices are considerably cheaper.

But I can speak basic Spanish (more or less) and I always attempt to build relationships wherever I go.  Therefore, my new Uruguayan acquaintances are happy to share their contacts with me.

Technology

We have satellite, cable tv, direct tv, high-speed internet and access to Netflix, Amazon Prime and movie theaters.  Personally, however, we don’t have a tv because we didn’t want one right now.  We do watch a movie now and then by way of computer.  But the question is always how good is the service?

Those who live along the coastal areas are fortunate because tourism pushes certain services to be better there.  We have decent service though not the best.  Some can get very fast service because they have access to fiber optic installation.  The best suggestion is to ask before you buy or rent. (key word being “before”).  You will want to buy a printer here because you can’t get cartridges for the stateside printers.  Most computers will work on 110-240 so you don’t have to worry about it.

Conclusion

When I get tired of hearing (or reading on forums for expats) how the prices are high, the quality is low, all you can find are things made in China, things break more easily, etc., etc., etc., — I say — “adapt or go home.”  I rarely say that because it sounds so rude.  But the truth of the matter is this:  Are you moving to a new country so you can spend all your time focusing on what you don’t like?  Are you going to live in this new place and spend all your emotional energy on the negative aspects of everything?

Yes, the magazines and travel brochures paint beautiful pictures of living near a white sand beach and having maids doing your bidding (if you have the money), and enjoying the sun and surf.  Do your homework.  You can’t blame them if your “paradise” turns out to be not quite so like paradise!

Then again, it wouldn’t look too appealing if travel magazines were to say how bad some things are or that you might have a heck of a time finding a decent rental for a decent price, or a car, etc. now would it?

PS – after all we read, and after all we studied, and after moving here and finding out all we have discovered — both positive and negative — Uruguay has not disappointed me in any way.  We absolutely love it here.

Maybe you would too!

 

October 25, 2016
by Enjoying Life to the Fullest!
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What You Can Buy for $2.15

Okay — so I may just want to brag a little bit about how delicious and fresh and HUGE the veggies are down here.  This is certainly a lot of broccoli, but I’m a sucker for a sale when it’s something as good as broccoli!

This was on sale at the feria (market) 3 heads of broccoli for a total of $U59.  The exchange that day was 27.5 so you divide $U59 by 27.5 and you get a whopping $2.15!  I have to say that’s what I call a deal.  We’re still eating it.  Turns out that’s a lot more broccoli than I was counting on.  What fun.

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(I know it’s a little blurry — all that excitement you know!!) ha ha ha

September 19, 2016
by Enjoying Life to the Fullest!
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What’s Up?

I realize that it has been a long time again.  Life is just too much fun here and my mind slips a bit when it comes to remembering to share it with you.  Also, I’ve been ill with three different illnesses in the last 6 weeks and that has certainly taken its toll on the creative mind aspect of life!

However – – – I don’t want you to be totally left out in the dark.  So here is a summary of the last 24 days!

We have been having fun.  For one thing, remember we lived for about 5 months in a place called Pueblo Eden.  We loved it.  The scenery is gorgeous and the people are great.  Except for right in town, it’s a pretty pricey place to live since the cost of land is so high.

Pueblo Eden had its 99th anniversary and we remembered to go.  It was quite an affair. There was a full-fledged professional band/orchestra that played.  It was the first time I had heard the Uruguayan National Anthem.  It’s quite impressive.  There was a huge parade of horses (somewhere around 200) that carried riders dressed in the typical dress of the Uruguayan gauchos.  There are still lots of gauchos and they work like crazy.

They also have these marvelous dogs who know just what to do to herd sheep and cattle to new pastures — down the highway — up hills and down valleys — and these little border collie mix dogs are faster and smarter than most dogs I’ve ever seen.  Brave too, since they go running in and out between cattle and sheep legs and hooves, nipping when necessary.

So the parade began and I got a few really good shots.  I was totally impressed at the cool historical, typical dress of the gauchos and their families.  I’m going to close out this blog and put a handful of those photos here so you get a feel for the day.  Notice that the children were included, many of them riding alone, and the younger ones riding with their dads or moms.

The sun shone — it was warm and people had fun.  We were so glad we went.  We even got to see some of our expat friends who live out there.  All in all it was an awesome day!

I’ve tried to show close-up shots of the gauchos (men) and their typical wear.  I cut the number down for this blog, but I like them so much I took a lot of photos with those cool hats, belts, and the large knives stuck in the back.  And no, those are not machetes.  These are gaucho knives and they are used for many things in their work.  These are for dress and show, but believe me, they are real knives!  Enjoy.

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August 25, 2016
by Enjoying Life to the Fullest!
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The Whales Are Here!!

right whale in oceanRC

An Awesome Time in Uruguay!

The Whales are Here!

What fun we are having.  One of our friends, Pam, mentioned that there were going to be whales coming to the beaches near here between July and November.  Little did we know that the time is now!

Last week on Tuesday when I was on my way to teach, there were cars lined up along the beach and I figured there must be whales.  I couldn’t see anything where all the cars were, but as I was just about to enter the part of the road where you can’t see the beach anymore, I saw one jump just a little out of the water and blow!

I was so thrilled with my minor view.  When I got home, I told Kris and she said she had seen Pam, and during that same day Pam had seen 5 or 6. Game on!

Today, I was on my way into town and cars were lined up all over the place again.  This time I had the time to stop for a few minutes and there they were doing turns and splashing around in the water. I finished what I had to do in town and hurried home to pick up Kris.  We grabbed our beach chairs and umbrella, our cameras, binoculars, and a jacket, and headed for the beach.

I attempted to take photos, but my hand was too shakey with the camera and they didn’t turn out well enough to share.  So I “borrowed” some from the Internet that look exactly like what we were watching today.  I don’t know how they manage to live with all those barnacles on them, but they are totally AWESOME!  They’re truly impressive.

Southern_right_whale6

 

This is about a 1/3 view!

Type:  Right Whale this is a link to an article about them.

 

 

 

One of the cool things about this morning was the pervasive sense of joy that was at the beach as we all “oooed and aaaawed” each time they rose their magnificent heads and enormous bodies out of the water – called “breaching”.

Right WhaleWe are going to head out tomorrow morning a lot earlier and park in an even better spot to watch the show. They migrate here to have their babies. Uruguay’s waters are declared by Uruguayan law to be a sanctuary for whales and dolphins.

Did you know they make this hilarious honking sound when they blow?  It truly sounds like a ships’ foghorn.

Children and adults alike were laughing and taking photos and having a great time. Some people even set up a small B-B-Q to cook something that smelled very good!  I was born and lived in the Pacific Northwest and never had a close-up view like this. Truthfully, I don’t even remember ever seeing the migration in the Pacific and I know there is one!

But to have a front row seat like we have here is truly a happy and moving experience as we enjoy these massive creatures of the sea.  Just one more fantastic thing about this wonderful country we now call home!

August 5, 2016
by Enjoying Life to the Fullest!
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View From Higher Up!

One of the things we like so much about living in Uruguay and most especially here in the Punta del Este/Punta Ballena region, is the astounding beauty. You can’t hear the roar of the Atlantic Ocean nor can you smell the salty air that wafts on the breeze just from photos alone. But you can appreciate that it is a magnificent experience to stand on the top of the viewpoint on Punta Ballena and take it all in!

Atlantic Ocean August 5th

Today was a perfectly foggy/sunny day. The breeze was very slight, and the weather was soft. We had a little shopping to do, and then on the spur of the moment we decided to drive out to the viewpoint on Punta Ballena past CasaPueblo Museum.

It was so beautiful that we pulled out the binoculars and looked at everything within “looking” range. There were a couple of funny little fishing boats that I’m certain did not know they were being “watched” by the two of us from so far away. Then we pulled out our phones and took some photos. I’ve only included a couple here. But if you want to see a slideshow of some more, head on over to lindawilsonsblogphotos.com and take a look.

Enjoying the Foggy Beach Day Overlook

We certainly had good luck — it began raining shortly after we arrived at home.
These kinds of things fill my soul! They lift me up and give me much reason to be happy we made such a “right” decision to move to Uruguay!  We simply couldn’t be in a more perfect location.  Have a wonderful day!

July 27, 2016
by Enjoying Life to the Fullest!
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Punta del Este on Canvas

I just found some very nice representations of Punta del Este that are exactly how it looks here. I’m not an artist (I take some good photos), but these are truly beautiful.

Disclaimer: if you happen to purchase one, I get a small commission for posting them for sale here.

They truly capture the beauty of this place!  Enjoy.

Just so you know, Casa Pueblo is built right on Punta Ballena so we see it every time we go to the beach or drive out the Punta Ballena overlook. This is the real deal!

When we drive into Punta del Este (about 5 miles from the house), it looks like this because we drive along the waterfront called the Balnearia along the Rumbla to get into town. If you want to visit here, you can expect to see this. If you’ve been here, you will be filled with delightful memories!

July 27, 2016
by Enjoying Life to the Fullest!
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Check Out The Scenery

We weathered a pretty hefty storm last night with very little left-over evidence!  It came as a great howling wind and some rain and felt like a good winter storm – which it was.  Only the difference was that when we got up this morning, there wasn’t 2 feet of snow to shovel before getting on with the day!

Began posting some new photos today for Punta Ballena (pronounced poonta bashena).Punta Ballena Up Close

Punta Ballena Up Close2

Thought you might like to begin to see what it looks like in the area where we live.  The beach is about 1 mile away and we have the most beautiful views. It’s great fun to be able to drive any direction, north or south, and be at the ocean — not just the ocean — but fantastic and interesting scenic vistas.  The last few times we’ve been at the seaside, the wind has been blowing very hard so it’s been difficult to get good photos that don’t wiggle.  But there are some and I’ll keep putting them up so you get an idea of what the landscape is like.

Our house is actually not right in town.  But within a couple miles we have two decent grocery stores, several nice restaurants, a huge truck-stop-style gas station, and, of course, the beach.

Blog photos can be seen here.  Also we have photos of our 2013 trip to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico deeper into the archives if you are interested.  I’ve been attempting to upload some wave motion but the files are too big at this time.  We’ll see!

If you’re interested in reading a lot of detail about different locations in Uruguay, we purchased this travel book by Bradt and it is quite accurate. We’ve used it many times to find different places, but more than that, it is accurate about restaurants, events and transportation — and much more. Just sayin…..