Posts Tagged ‘Montevideo’

Not so much news, but news. Nothing here changes, except for the worse.

I came here to fix my bank account and renew my cedula. You see, Uruguay does not believe that a bank is a place where you should put your money and let it sit unmolested for long periods of time. If you do not log in to your account online or move your money in some way, shape, of form, within 90 days, they will suspend everything.

Nice.

So I arrived early enough to get to the bank at 1pm when it opens, and went in, and got the ghoul behind the desk to reset my account. Supposedly. “Check in an hour and see if you can log in.”

And so I did. Problem not solved. I checked again later. Problem not solved.

By this time I am in Punta del Este, where I cannot re-fix the problem I fixed once already, because you cannot fix or re-fix a given problem with your bank unless you go to the branch where you opened it, which in this case is not where I am staying. It matters not the fact that it is a national bank with branches everywhere; you still have to make face time. To fix a thing that should have been fixed when you fixed it with the first fix.

Fuck this place. A thousand times. I want to burn it all to the ground. But it’s all too soggy and moldy to light. And I am willing to bed that the sad, grey-faced people lack the ambition even to combust properly.

In good news, I did manage to get my cedula renewed in a single day. Now they have a chip and everything, and finally the cedula fits in your wallet like a normal card should, and looks like it might survive getting sent through the washing machine a few times. They still had like 5 people in the process to print out a single card, lest they make the critical mistake of allowing efficiency to come with automation. Those offices are made to house pointless workers, after all! Now advertising paid government jobs: Openings for Senior and Assistant Mouse clickers, Person who Removes Cedula from Printer, and Person who Passes Cedula to Client from Person who Removes Cedula from Printer.

Not sure how I feel about that. I kinda liked the old ones that looked like a preschooler put them together with paste and construction paper.

In other bad news, it is disturbing the number of people I knew here who are now dead.

And the number of people I knew here who have split up from their spouses.

And the number of people I knew here who have been robbed or mugged or burglarized.

Also in other bad news, the government of Uruguay, in its infinite wisdom, has shut down the duty-free border zone in Chuy, forcibly closing down the shops of perfectly decent merchants, and denying Uruguayans access to untaxed goods, because they believe it is better to force everyone to use existing monopolies that are whining about lost profits because the economic downturn is so bad. If things suck so bad for Uruguayans that they are willing to drive all the way up to the border with Brazil (in most cases a 5-hour drive, with probably more than US$30 in tolls and US$100 in fuel) in order to buy their stuff… well, maybe you should rethink your import policies? Just saying…

I’ve only been here a couple of days and can’t wait to get the F out of here. I’d rather spend this time living showerless in week-old clothes, in the airport in Sao Paulo.

BeelzeBob sent me this news video. Robbers are now literally staging roadblocks and mugging people out of their cars, in broad daylight, while the cops watch and do nothing.

A friend of mine relayed a story to me about a neighbor in his building in Montevideo who was going home and was followed into the building by a couple of “pasta base types.” (ie: crack-heads)

Said crack-heads had been hassling him for a while and the harrassment had been escalating.

They followed him up to his apartment and after he was safely inside, they started pounding on the door and demanding money.

Naturally, said neighbor called the police. The police responded by telling him, “Give them 300 pesos and they will go away.”

Let that one simmer.

Beginning on 1 December, 2012, LAN will begin adding more daily flights between Santiago and Montevideo, up to 3 flights per day.

Thanks to BeelzeBob for this link.

Strange thing is, an acquaintance of mine from Montevideo is one of the guys they threw in prison. I met him through the Montevideo Comics scene, via our mutual interest in comic books and Japanese animation. I knew he liked young girls, but jeez…

Kinda creepy.

I heard about it from his ex-wife, who is now trying to figure out how to wrest custody of her son from the clutches of the ñoqui government fuckheads. It happened about 2 weeks ago. I wish her luck. Hopefully BabyBob doesn’t disappear into a pile of papers in some back office, never to be heard from again.

Tonight we’re drinking for enjoyment and not to cope. This is a change for us.

I have consumed more alcohol in the last 6 months than in the rest of my life put together. Gone are the days when I could get drunk on a few Cuba Libres; now I can kill an entire bottle of whiskey with SeminoleBob and still retain motor function. Though speech does slur, sentences and subjects wander without warning, and I wonder sometimes what the hell I was talking about but there is usually a lot of head-nodding produced by the audience so either I wasn’t entirely ridiculous or folks around me were being polite.

But I digress.

We ate at an Indian restaurant tonight. Excellent food. Real Indians. Spicy hot make-your-mouth-on-fire stuff. Awesome. They actually went out of their way to make sure we got what we wanted, even though it wasn’t on the menu. We knew they could do it. And they did! We’re veteran Indian food junkies.

I have landed my UFO in a strange land where people actually do things.

Had we asked for this in Uruguay, forget it. After seeing how things work there, I wouldn’t surprised to go into an “Indian” restaurant to find nothing but chivito and milanesa on the menu.

We experienced the Indian food in Uruguay, at the only Indian restaurant. Run by Uruguayos, not Indians. The food was ok, not fantastic, and they tried to rip us off when we got the check– the menus we had contained prices less than we were quoted on the check, and when we brought it to the waiter/owner’s attention, in traditional Uruguayan lack-of-customer-service style, he preferred to get a few dollars more now than retain customers and have them coming back again and again, by insisting we pay the new up-to-date menu prices as opposed to the old out-of-date menu prices that were in the menus which we were given.

Up his. We never went back and now we tell everyone we meet to avoid it. The place was called Tandoori, by the way, in Montevideo. Avoid it like the plague. If it’s still in business.

Another thing I am noticing a lot of is that people in Chile understand me, even with my Rio Platense accent. Not once has someone looked at me questioningly and done the “eh?” to get me to say it again. Which happens in Uruguay, all the time, and I like to think I have a pretty good grasp on the Spanish there. Folks here get it, the first time.

And they have discovered “the stick” at the grocery store and put it to use. Such a great invention.

El Stick no es disponible en Uruguay.

Chilling out with a decent $3 bottle of Carmenere…

Between November 2011 and February 2012, the statistics in Punta Carretas, Montevideo, are shocking:

  • 39% of the population were victims of theft or assault at least once during that 4-month period. That is 2 out of every 5 people.
  • 72% of the robberies were non-violent, meaning that 28% (greater than 1 in 4) of the robberies were violent. Violent robberies account for 38% in the rest of Montevideo.
  • Therefore, 11% of the population of Punta Carretas, greater than 1 in 10, was violently robbed in that 4-month time period.
  • 40% of total annual crime occurs in this 4-month period.
  • According to survey, 50% of the people feel that their experiences with the police, post-incident, were negative.
  • In 35% of the cases, the police took longer than 16 minutes to respond or never showed up at all.
  • Of all the cases, 11% result in arrest, and only 9% go to judicial proceedings.
  • Survey shows that 60% of people do not feel safe in their own neighborhood.
  • 65% surveyed call for greater police presence.

And, to twist the knife…

  • It is estimated that 60% of robberies and assaults go unreported.

Source: El Pais, thanks to SwingDanceBob.

They wear their smiley faces but their body language is not in sync with smiley faces, and the thoughts behind their eyes are compatible with neither smiley faces nor their body language. They are like Mormons or Canadians; they smile too much and stare through you with their x-ray vision instead of making eye contact.

In short, it’s f’ing creepy.

They come outside and politely inform the people standing in a loose-knit semiorderly mob to go and please stand in the official cues designated at the right. You know that if people even lagged a moment the guy would not hesitate to put on his ugly face and mow us down with machine gun fire.

I am standing in the non-visa line, and ItchyTriggerFingerBob asks me if I am American. Yes, I say. Come on in, he says, and waves me in VIP style. VIP entrance to the TSA-like screening chamber. VIP feeling crushed instantly.

You cannot take your stuff in with you, other than a wallet and any papers you might have. Cel phones are a no-no.

On the forms I am filling out for these new passport pages, there are required fields for this-and-that, and WindowLady asks me why I didn’t fill in the space for WifeBob’s phone number. We need this filled in, or it’s off to the gas chambers for you. It’s in my cel phone, I tell her, and you forbid that. So make something up because it’s just as good as my senile memory. Some fine print somewhere says I’ll be prosecuted for perjury or somesuch if I fail to report information 100% accurate. Ah well, it was a good run.

They also need WifeBob’s Social Security Number, which is hell-if-I-know. WindowLady seems surprised that I fail to give a shit about memorizing WifeBob’s SS number. “I would have been able to call her, but…”

No smile. Not funny, apparently. To her.

Add that one to the perjury list. Don’t you people have that in your magical database? Oh, yes, they do. Why is it on the form then? Oh, yeah, the perjury bait. Hmm…

So then WindowLady tries talking us into getting new passports. You can save money if you don’t need them in the next few weeks, just go ahead and order new ones, and they come with 52 pages. That way you don’t need to bother with new pages in your old passports. Well, I don’t want to be microchipped, thank you. Not that I am not already in umpteen databases as a bastion of misanthropic, anarchistic sarcasm. But leave me this one tiny splinter of choice and freedom, please.

“I like my old passport and I want to keep using it.” WindowLady thinks it is odd. There is probably a new database entry in the troublemaker file after that. This one resists the chip. Winston Smith will make me an unperson soon.

She also seems surprised that we are residents, have been for some time, and we never registered ourselves. “Why haven’t you registered with us?”

None of the responses my brain comes up with will end without me being taken into custody, so I shrug and say nothing.

I am informed to come back after 11, so I come back at 12:30. Consular section is now closed. For siesta. You have got to be f’ing kidding me. This is American soil, and you dare defile it with the brainrot concept of siesta??? “Come back at 2, they will be open again.”

So I go outside and take a nap for an hour and a half. Perfect day for a nap.

New lines. New scary guy with itchy trigger finger. Same smiley faces but this time more intense. The security people are so tightly wound, it’s disturbing. I wonder what being on a hair trigger while trying to maintain a happy public face does to the psyche over long periods of time. Each one has his own strict protocol and he’s watching all his buddies for the littlest twitch of strange behavior, lest he be some sort of terrorist-in-disguise. They are positively schizophrenic and the vibe is totally not groovy.

At the second security checkpoint a woman guard who I have not seen before asks me if I was there earlier. “Yes,” I say. “Why?” she asks. “Here to pick up my passports.” Creepy…

“Go ahead,” she directs. I go to the heavy inner blast door which takes about all my ogre strength to pull open, and it won’t open. In a nervous tone, she tells me, “You can’t go in there yet, it’s been locked by a Marine.”

Then why did you tell me to go ahead? Is there some weird protocol I am supposed to know about Marines and their door-locking habits? Is there some Jar-head with veins popping out of his neck all freaked out because I tried to enter the door he locked? Why even mention Marines? Why tell me to try to open a locked door? I am confused, and she looks nervous now. Great.

Do they do this little psychological thriller crap to people to see if they suddenly break out in a cold sweat, shout Allah Akhbar, and pull the ripcord that reveals their dynamite vest so that all present have an opportunity to scream for a scant few seconds before the thing blows? It’s like they have been thinking about it so much for so long that they actually want it to happen, so that they can relax knowing that their mental preparations weren’t a waste. Like sugarplums dancing in their heads, they have visions of wild-eyed Arabs shaking AK-47s in upraised arms, standing atop a hill of skulls and shouting Lakalakalaka! Derka Derka! and they can’t wait to mow them all down with shock, awe, and hellfire. If only the bastards would show up…

BZZZZT the door unlatches and I can now go through. I go back in and WindowLady gives me the obesely modified passports. Quick and efficient, and now $164 in the hole (fees they don’t advertise on the consular website. And they supply a phone number that dials in to a constant busy signal, so you can call in for information about it and not get any).

I wasted no time leaving; I couldn’t wait to get out of there.

If you were to change the lock to the main entry door in a multifamily building, what is the first logical thing you would do after the lock was changed?

1. Get copies made for the neighbors.
2. Inform the neighbors.

They got 1 right, but 2 is beyond the level of complex thought the Montevideo Retard Family brains are capable of (the neighbors I refer to are the same ones who owned NonstopBarkDog). The stupidity is exponentially compounded by the fact that I am the only other person who shares that common entry door. It’s not like they could have overlooked one of the many neighbors.

I arrived in Montevideo to get more pages added to our passports (more on the creepy US embassy in a future post), but I arrived early and wanted to check in on the general state of things at the old flat and relieve my bladder after the drive. Actually, the urge to empty my bladder was reaching the early edge of desperate.

I put my key into the lock, and it won’t turn. Hmm. I wiggle it, muscle it, and give it some general hell because it had been getting stubborn. No go. I look closer and see that the mechanism appears to be newer, or at least cleaner. Hmm, mayhaps the neighbors have changed the lock. I call their home number, and it picks up.

“Hey, it’s your neighbor. I can’t get in.”

“Oh, yes, of course,” Tardette replies, “We had to change the lock. We left your new key with the realty office at the corner. Give me a minute and I will be right down.”

Tardette takes a few minutes and comes down, then explains that she is leaving for work and has her only key, which she will not give to me, and tells me to just go and get the new key from the realty office. OK, kind of rude, but simple enough.

I go to the realty office, whose advertised hours are to open at 10am. It’s 10:15, nobody around. I hit the local grocery for something to snack on, and then come back. 10:30, still nobody there. Lovely. I really need to pee.

So I call up Papa Tard, and he answers with my name; obviously my phone number is stored in his phone, proof that he has my phone number. I am pretty sure he has my email too.

“Hey, it’s your neighbor. I can’t get in. You wife explained it to me but now she is gone and I still can’t get in.”

“Yeah,” he says, “The old one broke so we had to change it.”

“It’s about to get a lot more broken in a few minutes if I don’t get a key. Then I’ll replace the lock and not tell you about it so you’ll have to hunt around for a key while your bladder overflows into your eye sockets.”

“Isn’t the realty office open?” asks Papa Tard.

“No.”

“Well their hours are 10am until…” he explains, redundantly.

“Yes, indeed they are. Honestly, are you surprised? I am not surprised. I don’t think anyone is surprised by this. Nor should they be.”

Silence for a moment.

Papa Tard: “Have you tried calling them?”

“No people in the office means no people to answer the phone.” DUUUHHHHHHHhhhhhhh oh Dear God please if ever there was a time to conjure up a speeding bus or an aneurism or hungry sharks or a flaming meteor or something instantly, painlessly fatal, do it now!

“Well, sorry man, but I have to work, but I get back at 2:30, can you wait for me?” he asks.

“Hell no I am not waiting for you for 4 hours, I have already put off work for this, and I have things to do. Like get into my apartment, for starters.”

I end the call, give up on getting into my place, and start up the street in search of somewhere to unload 50 gallons of piss. While I am hunting, I realize that the realty office has both my phone number and email too. And they didn’t call me either.

Had I been in other civilized places I would have simply kicked in the front door and gotten a locksmith to fix it same-day, sent the bill to the Retard Family (who probably wouldn’t suffer from such severe retardation in this fantasy case) and been done with it. Teach them a lesson and freak them the fuck out for next time.

I find a public restroom and violate it thoroughly. Not an easy task in Montevideo, the finding part.

Then on to the post office where I check in on the annual renewal of my PO box. I shake the spiders and cobwebs out of Christmas cards I find in my box, and go downstairs to check on the up-to-dateness of my payment. Turns out it expired in February. It is now May.

“Didn’t you get a card in the box?” PostOfficeLadyBob asks me.

“Nope.”

“Didn’t you get a letter at your apartment?”

“Nope.”

“Didn’t you get an email?”

“Nope.”

I can tell she is about to hit ‘phone call’ but a dim spark strikes somewhere and she knows, that I know, that Uruguayans NEVER call you when they say they are going to call you or are supposed to call you. Ever. So she doesn’t bring that one up. Good save, PostOfficeLadyBob.

“Well then let’s see the contract here,” and we begin looking through all the data to find the source of the failure. There’s my apartment address, my email address, my phone number… they had everything.

Finding no explanation in the file other than speculation of severe blunt force trauma to the skull, she says to me, “Well I really don’t know why you weren’t contacted about the expiration of your mailbox.”

“Ohhhh, I do. Ah yes, I do. I so, so do. Painfully so. Just renew me for another year, please.”