Posts Tagged ‘Uruguay’

If you want the Uruguay experience:

  • Take a blanket and soak it with water.
  • Get a filthy dog and soak it with water.
  • Drill holes in your roof.
  • Break half your plumbing, short out half of your electrical system. Not just half-assed breaking, no, make sure that shit’s leaking into the walls and shorting stuff out everywhere.
  • Rip out all your insulation.
  • Then turn the AC down to 50 degrees, and lay under the soggy blanket with the wet dog so you can experience what everything smells and feels like here (Obligatory Mold Smell + dog ass), while you try and get a bunch of disinterested, hopeless, unskilled morons (extra-special drooling short-bus morons) to fix all the broken stuff. Using all the wrong tools (bubble gum, masking tape, and coat hangers get you bonus points).
  • Oh, and pay 3x as much as you normally pay for the cheaper version of the stuff you usually buy.
  • Then fire some morons, and help them sue you.
  • If you want to get around, buy an ancient piece of shit car from 1970 and spend US$8000 on it.
  • Then pay $8 per gallon to fuel it.
  • Call someone to deliver something tomorrow, but then tell him you really meant next week but hey, why not just do it in a month, or not at all, if that’s what suits him. After all, you are a paying customer!

I’m sure I am missing about 500 other things but this should get you well on your way.

No, I didn’t tag this as humor because it’s not really funny.

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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.

SOSAS

Posted: March 19, 2015 in Life, Real estate, Stupidity, Travel
Tags: , , , ,

Same Old South American Shit (SOSAS) hooray for fun acronyms.

I came here to do a few small select things.

  • Remove WifeBob from the Chilean medical insurance policy.
  • Get the car’s paperwork renewed for another year.
  • Go on an awesome road trip through Patagonia.
  • Pack up my things into storage and rent the Volcano Lair out as a furnished short-term rental.

Even the best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry. We are, dear reader, once again in South America…

Let’s start with the first simple thing. I contacted my medical insurance rep months ago to ask how I might have WifeBob removed from the policy since she no longer wants/needs it. “Oh, all we need is your signature,” I was told, and so that’s what I went on. Months later, here I am in Chile to meet and sign, and “Oh, we need your divorce certificate.” Gee, would have been nice to have known that when I asked months ago, right? So I would have time to get a copy and bring it down with me? So now, in order to take care of this crap, it will cost me several days which may eat into my road trip and possibly make it a no-go.

Then the car. I keep, in my opinion, one of the best-maintained little shitboxes in all of Chile. Yes it often sits unused for long periods of time but I keep it in such a high degree of operational fitness that after 6 months of non-use, all I need to do is turn the key and it comes back to life. And so, I figured, it should be a piece of cake to take it into the inspection station, get my papers, and off we go on our road trip. Not so! I was rejected flat-out for “visible blue smoke” which does not exist. Not only am I mechanically inclined enough to know that this is bullshit, but I took it to a mechanic for further inspection, whereupon we both scratched our heads as to what they could have possibly seen to make them think it was so bad that they failed it outright and did not even bother to give it the emissions test. Oh, and they also failed it for having improperly-aligned headlights, even though nothing has changed since last year when it passed with flying colors and perfect emissions. Weird.

So anyhow, I have to “fix the problems” and then bring it back for re-testing. Which will eat into potential road trip time and may make it a no-go.

As to the possibility of the road trip at all at this point, it teeters on the edge.

The only potentially good thing in this little to-do list is the prepping of the place for rental, which is really just a matter of boxing a few things up, upgrading the locks on a closet, and handing the keys over to my chosen AirBnB rental manager (who I have dealt with in the past with excellent results). But, alas, he is on vacation right now and won’t be back until about a week before I leave. So if the road trip is delayed I may miss my window to do my dealings with RentalBob. In my opinion doing the rental stuff is more important than the road trip, and so the road trip plans are being squeezed from two directions.

Ahhhhh, life in South America. It is content to leave you alone completely, until you decide to do things.

In other news, I learned that since October, our citizenship file in Uruguay has finally passed muster (2+ years of waiting) and is now in the hands of the bureaucrat who will actually make our passports happen. Whatever that means. Nobody who is supposed to know seems to know, and they don’t answer emails or phone calls. The only information we have is that the next step should take 8 months (since October 2014), which means that in theory, in April, if all goes to plan, I can wrangle someone who will give me my goddamned passport. But, Uruguayan time being Uruguayan time, 8 months really means another 4 years. There is actually a formula for this:

Let Z = real time in months. Let Y = time promised by Uruguayan in months.

Z = Y (6 +- 48000)

Not content with shooting one foot off with the removal of their banking secrecy, Uruguay’s parliament recently ratified (August 26) an absurd new law that bans all cash transactions over US$5000. In addition, special information will need to be filed if said money originates outside the country.

It’s funny, really, because Uruguay’s main movements in real estate for the past decade have been made by flight capital from Argentina and other countries. A couple of years back, they removed banking secrecy as it pertained to sharing information with Argentina, wherein real estate transactions and large bank deposits had to be reported to the AFIP. That wasn’t good enough, because then the deposits just started to become smaller (duh), so in order to curb this awful activity of foreigners paying Uruguayans for their land and construction labor, something must be done, a nuclear option which will screw even the locals!

Movement of any kind will not be tolerated.

Considering that many Uruguayans probably don’t have a bank account at all, let alone a debit card, and 2/3 of them live in rural areas without banks, it will be interesting to see how this pans out. I am guessing that most stuff will just go black-market, and the areas outside of Montevideo will just separate themselves more and more from the stupidity of the little Tupamaro empire.

The new Uruguayan family!

The new Uruguayan family!

Thanks to GermanBob for this gem!

Uruguayan revolution?

Posted: March 25, 2014 in Humor
Tags: , ,

During a drunken conversation I had with BeelzeBob, after we had discussed the slaughter of the Charrua, I asked him, “How many people do you suppose you would have to get rid of to turn this country back from its ridiculous commie downward spiral?”

“I dunno,” he answered, “How many people live in Uruguay?”

“3 million, mas o menos.”

“Then 3 million.”

Day 9:

I left Punta Del Este with a carload of crap, which certainly slowed the BobMobile’s acceleration and handling but did not cause it any undue harm. Literally floor to ceiling in back, and taking up a lot of the passenger seat as well. 6 boxes of books and clothes, my old drafting desk (sans top, which had to stay behind; I could have tied it to the roof but didn’t want a wing there with all the wind), power tools, the infamous Expat Usufruct Chair (TM), my clothes, camping gear, a couple boxes of Uruguayan alfajores, 6 bottles of wine, and a few other odds and ends. Most of the wine is the last remaining supply of a 50-liter batch of mead I brewed back in 2008, and I must say after aging 5 years it is truly excellent.

I digress, again.

I headed to BeelzeBob’s for a barbecue and to crash, for an early start. The Usual Suspects were there, along with some new blood, and we had a great time.

Day 10:

In the morning, I packed VikingBob into the passenger seat and headed to Montevideo where we had lunch with SwingdanceBob, then I dropped off all my human cargo and headed out into the Great Beyond. I’d say I left Montevideo around 3pm, and made it to Fray Bentos around 8pm.

Fray Bentos is the site of the Botnia pulp mill, which has been a source of Gran Lucha between Argentina and Uruguay. Mainly because Botnia explored Argentina first and the Kirchnerites wanted too much money and would have raped them out of their business, so they went to Uruguay instead. Then the hippies, funded by the Argentine thug government, protested for years, blockaded the international bridge, and essentially starved many of their own businesses out from lack of transiting tourists (it is/was the main road route between Uruguay and Buenos Aires).

Now it’s open again, and so I went that way.

The young douchebag on the Argentine incoming side did not like me from the get-go, and insisted that the reciprocity-fee sticker in my old passport was expired. “This is valid only for the life of the passport,” he told me.

“No, it is not. Otherwise it would say so. Instead, as you see here, it is valid until 2022. I have had no problems with this so far, entering Argentina twice within the past week, at Paso de Jama and Jose Falcon.”

Seeing I would not budge after we argued back and forth for 15 minutes, he took it in the back office, was told by his superiors that yeah, he was wrong, and then wordlessly did all the stuff he was supposed to do in the first place, taking his dear sweet time, and then not saying a word nor looking me in the eye as he handed me both passports and waved me on. He did not win his Vivo today. The Argies hate to lose.

The famous bridge at Fray Bentos. Sans hippies.

The famous bridge at Fray Bentos. Sans hippies.

Once I was driving through Entre Rios, the bugs were so thick and heavy that I had to stop every couple of hours to clean the windshield because I could not see anything. I managed to get through all the way to Rosario around midnight with no problems, and then came the toll bridge. I had been dreading this moment because during my routine bug-guts-scrapings, I had also been on the lookout for an ATM, which so far, to this point, I had not been able to find. And so I had no Argentine Pesos.

I told the bridge-tender as much, and offered any mix of Uruguayan, Chilean, Paraguayan, US, Canadian, Brazilian, whatever would work. She kept saying no. No credit/debit cards either. She would not accept my offer to wash dishes, either. Eventually she called her boss, and he told her to just wave me through. Much to the thanks of the honking line of drivers behind me.

Finally, AFTER the bridge, in the town of Funes, a suburb of Rosario, I found an ATM and made good use of it. Filling up fuel, I the girl at the station asked me if I speak English. I must still set off GringoDar with my cargo shorts and hiking boots with black socks. And t-shirts with English stuff on them. “Yeah, I speak English.”

She chatted me up for a while as she filled the tank, explaining that she had lived in the ‘States for a few years, and then come back to Argentina. “It’s getting tough for us here. We make the same, but everything else keeps going up. Clothes, food, even shoes are getting hard to afford.” We went back and forth about the Argentine industries, since a lot of that stuff is still made in Argentina, or at least was, and she explained that production from all those Argentine businesses is rolling down and even those local goods are getting expensive. The people still want stuff made in the USA but they can no longer afford it and lots of it has been banned from import. Sad.

I wished her suerte and moved on, determined to close the distance to Santiago to under 1000km. I finally got to about 945 and ran out of steam somewhere a couple hundred km from Cordoba. Slept at an YPF station, uncomfortably, since the seats no longer recline with all the crap in the car. So I did a sort of yoga over the dashboard to stretch my legs out. I had looked for camping spots but found none on the GPS, and neither my Uruguayan nor Chilean sim card would work with the internet here.

Day 11:

That lasted for maybe 4 hours until my body couldn’t take it anymore, and I got headed out again around 8. I tried to fuel up at the same station but they had no gas. From here on in, it seemed that all the stations were out of 1 or more varieties of fuel. Usually it was the cheapest form of gasoline; not sure if that is because they want the markup on the premium gas, or everyone just flies through the cheap gas because that’s all they can afford. Diesel was always in stock. And, interestingly, there were GNC (natural gas) filling stations everywhere for cars that had been converted to run on it.

There was a campground/rest area maybe 30 minutes up the road from where I slept in the damned parking lot. BobLuck again.

Around lunchtime, late lunch perhaps, I decided to pull into the little town of LaPaz to refuel the car and my belly. Next to the gas station is the bus station, in which is a little comedor which advertised empanadas. So, I went in. They sold them by the dozen, but they were only AR$35 (about US$5, or US$3 on the black market) so I told them to give me a dozen, half ham-and-cheese, and half carne.

So I waited around for 15 minutes, which was fine because it allowed the blood to flow back into my ass, which is, interestingly, the same amount of time it takes to fill a short order in a roadside Argentine comedor, handed them my order ticket, took the bag, thanked them, and left. The bag was heavy, and I wondered if I would be able to eat a dozen empanadas before I got to the border crossing, but eh, whatever, they were cheap…

So about 30 minutes down the road I decide to open the bag and eat, and inside I find no empanadas; in their place are 5 enormous lomito sandwiches. WTF? Well, I am not going to turn around and go back for $3 worth of incorrect order in my favor, so I ate one and kept on trucking. In my mind, though, is “How do you botch an order like that when I am the only guy in there?” It’s not like there is some guy in LaPaz wondering why he has a bag of a dozen empanadas. Bienvenido a SudAmerica.

So at every place I stopped for gas, I tried to unload the sandwich surplus, and had no takers.

I got to Mendoza in the late afternoon. It had been quite a few years since I was here last, and I had forgotten how beautiful the whole area is. Seemingly endless high plains stretching out to the horizon, where they meet mountain ridges and then the snow-capped Andes beyond. Everything green and sunny and thriving. Life. Industry. Wal-mart. Ahhhh, civilization!

Beautiful Mendoza

Beautiful Mendoza

Past Mendoza and up into the mountains, past beautiful lakes and epic rocky peaks. The road was a pleasure to drive, despite its uphill grind at slower speeds. There wasn’t much traffic to pass, which was nice, and for the most part I had the whole road to myself. I like driving through tunnels. It must be a man thing. There were lots of tunnels, and it was cool. I reached the Chilean border checkpoint shortly before sunset. Sum total I was stopped twice at Argentine police checkpoints, but all they did was look at my drivers license and wave me on.

_DSCN0143

Up around 3500 meters, near the border, I started to feel the altitude headache creeping in, but I knew it wouldn’t last. However, at that altitude, you get loopy while waiting around at the bureaucrat lines in the border station. I suppose being sort of high on lack of oxygen makes it more tolerable.

_DSCN0146

The Argentine aduanas were boggled because the doofus at Fray Bentos failed to give me a piece of paper with a stamp in it, and that took them like an hour to muddle through. Also the Chilean folks were baffled by why I would have so many entries and exits in just 2 weeks. Seriously, the pile of stamped papers was ridiculous at this point, the Argentine temporary car import paper literally had no more room for stamps on it. They thought something was up, and my car got extra examination by the dog team. They didn’t open anything but my toolbox, though, which I had bought just last week, to hold all the Free-Floating Trunk Crap (TM), which the dog was fascinated by for some reason. I would have thought it would be obsessed by the alfajores or the 50 metric tons of lomito sandwiches in the front seat, but no. It was well-trained.

The time was made more pleasant, however, by the customs girl who kept asking me absurd humorous questions like, “Are you sure you don’t have a turtle in there?”

I’ve got a turtle in my pocket, baby…

And so the check was completed, I put all my shite back together, organized my mountain of papers, which will just go to the compost heap anyways, and rolled out. They didn’t make me get rid of the fucking lomito sandwiches and wouldn’t take them when I offered.

Bienvenidos a Chile!

Bienvenido a Chile!

Rolling down the pass into Chile, the crew is still working on fixing the road, and it is still closed down to one lane in places. Crazy switchbacks and no guard rails. Nice shiny new concrete, which has got to be a bitch to drive on when it’s wet. Good thing it is dry.

Between here and Santiago is only 100km or so, amazingly close.

I got home around 9:30pm, unpacked the BobMobile in its entirety, and took it back to its parking spot for a nice long rest. I cannot tolerate loose ends and so despite being at the point of complete physical and mental exhaustion, I had to finish unpacking or I could not live with myself. Capitalism!!!

Walking home, it felt nice to move my legs again. All done by 10pm. Climbed in the tub to pressure-wash the patina of road scum off of myself and then hit the sack.

I’ll have the totals up in my next post hopefully, after I go back to the car and gather all the receipts from this run.

My fridge is full of goddamn lomito sandwiches.