The Joy Of Morcilla Dulce

Uruguay is home to a number of delicious foods. There's the beef, the cheese, the icecream, and the dulce de leche. There are other very Uruguayo foods that get less attention, usually due the the lack of local creativity in using them. In spite of normally being relegated to an afterthought as part of the picada preceeding the main course of the asado, the local morcilla has a lot to offer.

Typically the local morcilla, salado and dulce alike, are cooked in their thick skins and sliced into rounds for serving. This leaves a problem, the casing on these guys isn't very edible. It further leaves all of the various flavors trapped in the pudding.

In addition to the bloody base the morcilla sulce has delicious pine nuts, orange, and raisins. All of these flavors are readily amplified by opening up the casing, or stripping the casing off completely. That's it. One simple trick; except this one works.

Now, completely removing the casing makes the popular Uruguayo preparation of grilling the morcilla on the parilla unfeasible, but it opens up all kinds of other possibilities. Fry it up with rice, with potatoes, with eggs…

A Look At Fraudball, The Terrible Spectator Sport

In an effort to build stronger ties with the locals, I watched their games with them. Cheered with them, mourned with them, and breifly discussed seizing a warship with them over greivances against the largely Argentine referee crew. Below are several observations about the game and its shortcomings:

  • The game's defining aspect is the difficulty of controlling the ball. The ball is heavy, clumsy, and even the best players strain to exercise any modicum of control over the ball's movements.
  • Defense and its positional aspects are largely a solved problem. This means scoring usually happens through clever looking accidents, courtesy of the ball's erratic behavior or defensive mistakes.
  • These aspects make gameplay slow, tedious, and exhausting… for the spectators. The ability to confuse skill in creating situations where the accidents where scoring happens for skill in scoring is correlated with greater ability to spectate the game.
  • Many problematic aspects of Uruguayo culture translate into advantage behaviors in the game. High tolerance for waiting, feigning disability, selling non-existent injuries, and bickering over trivia carried the Uruguayo team through group play undefeated against less skilled, but more athletic teams.
  • The game of Fraud ball is exhausting for the players as well. Full out competition is only guarenteed the first 5 to 10 minutes of the games before the players are exhausted. In spite of this substitutions to bring in fresh, rested players are rare.
  • The lack of substitutions is puzzling especially considering that for the majority of players on the field their most important contribution is arranging themselves to occupy space. Meanwhile in hockey where the difference in player skills can have a greater impact on the game and scoring, substitutions are frequent.
  • Strategy consists of trying to safely burn time while hoping your side recieves more fortunate accidents than the other.

In the end nationalist appeals for action against Argentina failed to amount to anything, but the Uruguayos were very receptive to the notion the French team didn't look very French. Make Uruguay Great Again!


Settling Into Apartment Life

Having moved out of the hostel and into the new Pizarro habitation module, life goes on. After the intercontinental move to Uruguay which required 21 hours in airplanes and airports, moving down the street is proving to be quite an adjustment given the comparatively trivial distance involved by comparison. Going from a room where I wouldn't always wake up with the same company I went to sleep with to a locking door where no one else gets in without an invitation.

There are small things I miss. The giant pot of coffee at all hours, daily cleaning. There are bigger things as well, the rotating cast of characters out of which the occasional visitor was interesting. The rapport with the staff survives and I will be returning there in the morning for the game.

There are things I won't miss. Brasileros requesting the heat be cranked up to summer daytime temperatures at night in the winter… Recently that could do a number on the sleep. A small number of the vistors were nuissances. Some were profound nuissances.

The shift has bit of a disorienting change.


The Moving Process In Montevideo Continues

After recieving the key to the apartment Monday and electricity on Tuesday1 I have begun the process of moving into the apartment. Given the short distance and light weight of the things to be moved, none of my things are enaging in the whole fletes business. Instead I've been spending my time waiting for the big things to arrive. Small things I've just been walking over at my leisure.

The sleeping surface arrived near the halftime mark of its six hour delivery window. I went to Divino on Tuesday where I found a "sofa cama" whose feel approximates the sweet yet firm hostel mattress. I picked the nearest delivery window which was two days out, paid and it arrived as promised.

Meanwhile all of the locals and even some of the immigrants keep recommending "Mercado Libre", a sort of Argentine Amazon, as the place to shop for everything. How a purchase on Mercado Libre works is:

  1. You search for whatever you are looking for
  2. You keep searching for that thing except from a seller willing to identify themselves as other than "Mercado Libre Platinum Seller"
  3. You have to ask the seller if they actually have the item advertised as "in stock" in their stock before you begin the process of buying. Naturally at this stage all of the questions about whether the item is in stock go into the public section of the listing for questions about the item. This of course buries any questions and answers about the actual item.
  4. Should you make it this far you will discover despite numerous payment options advertised the only one that can actually be made to work is… printing out an invoice and taking it to the Abitab to stand in line and pay it…
  5. You put on your pants, go for a walk, and reflect on the failure to replicate Northern online commerce while you visit actual stores and talk to people.
  6. You use the prices mystery vendors posted for items on Mercado Libre for leverage with sales people to mixed results.

Spending time in the apartment has yeilded far more pleasant surprises than unpleasant ones. The floor I though was wood looking appears to be wood. The shelf next to the bidet and within arms reach of the toilet is a good place to stash more toilet paper. Peeling off the outlet covers revealed the walls are concrete, and with a north facing balcony the winter sun provides substantial daytime heat while the whole place is surprisingly well insulated by North and South American standards. With a second sleepable surface this habitation module should provide servicable accomodation for the next visitor to the Space Station.

I still need to find and install a 20-30 liter water heater in the designated cabinet while anchoring it to the wall,2 but I still have the hostel bathrooms until July 1st. The Cowork where I rent a desk still has the bathroom with the first hot shower I used in Uruguay.

Life goes on, the Uruguayos and their rituals still piss me off, but it bothers me less than it did in the February through May stretch.

  1. Fiber internet to come la semana que viene… This is the painful wait preventing a substantial increase in the productive number of hours per day.  

  2. Probably a ~170 USD expenditure being delayed while I read manuals and contemplate what the best anchor is in light of the medium density fiberboard sitting in front of the concrete.  

And Then There Was Light

And the fruit of the first telephone trámite has arrived:

lightsIn spite of long hold times and the frustration of having to explain Gringo culture over the phone, UTE managed to get the power turned on within their stated window. Granted the install window was the entirety of business hours today.

Meanwhile the short, easy in person trámite at a retail location to get a net connection so far has only resulted in day one of the quoted three day window to recieve a phone call about scheduling the actual installation to pass without movement.

The short in person trámite to acquire a surface to sleep on, this trámite for comparison was not with one of the official monopolies, resulted in a 5 hour long delivery window for Thursday.

Smaller items are gradually finding their way here as well. An electric kettle, the peculiar sort of football scarf used for cheering during the game and choking out opposing fans after a loss, miscellaneous tools, and a small mountain of microfiber rags used to pad more the important items during my immigrant voyage have made it as well.

A Locking Door Gets Nearer

Friday after substantial effort the tramite to secure a guarantee on the apartment finally reached the point where papers will be signed today… provided the property owner shows up. Right now Uruguay is winning the game at halftime 2-0 against Russia. I give it 66-34 odds he shows up.

Updates On The Renting Adventure

The a deposit was made with the Guarantee agency last week and the process of turning the deposit into a certificate of Guarantee is en tramité. Today is a holiday, but I have been unable to determine its name. Tomorrow the national team plays a game starting at noon local time, which is worse than a holiday. This means either Thursday is the optimistic estimate for new news, but la semana que viene is a possibility.

So far long the way:

  • 10,000 pesos (315 USD) were placed to take the apartment off the market, credits towards first's month rent
  • ~45,000 pesos (1420 USD) were placed with the Garantee club
  • Before approaching the Guarantee club a bunch of certificates were generated for my application. Certificates which also make Migracciones happy as the residency process proceeds.
  • Changing various registrations made in my passport after landing to the Cedula has consumed a substantial amount of time as well.
  • The number of people using the hostel as a long term residence has increased from my singular self to five people. Three of the newcomers are fine. One is an absolute piece of trash that doesn't understand boundries, and if his or my presence continue to overlap in the hostel… It is very likely whether he understands threats will be tested.
  • Construction has thrown the Cowork into disarray. The sound of "todo bein" and gossip is still less tolerable than power tools. The local work ethic is such that there is very infrequently any actual construction noise. Instead there's a bunch of bitching about construction noise that isn't actually happening.
  • All of the paper shuffling and persistent vermin really has me wishing for a place to hang a whiteboard. A place where I can get hours, plural without the local noise polution.


Language Acquisition And The Perception Thereof

Having lived more than 6 continuous months in a Spanish speaking country, my Spanish has improved immensly, but in my everyday life it is hard to feel that it has happened. In March I went to Migracciones for a tramité my progress was substantially aided by making eyes at the girl behind the desk flying the bureaucracy. I was functional, but only to a point. This month in the process of securing a door I can lock and wall to hang a whiteboard, I have been corralling the various moving Latino parts of the process exclusively in Spanish. I have still been running the papers I have signed in the process past the Venezolana during lessons after I sign them for my own safety, but the temptation to bring a tag along to meetings hasn't been present.

When viewed the apartment which is now en tramité, the kind girl offered to speak in English. I employed the trick I am every more practiced in where in three to four speaking lines I shift from English to Spanglish to Spanish, and their own mental inertia deprives them of the opportunity to practice English. This is the polite way I defuse the local anglophone fetishists from profiling me as a free chance to practice English.

The less polite way is I indicate their accent in English is unintelligible. It rarely is, and there is more resistance to this avenue. It tends to be more satisfying by far.

I am still dating the Peruana nurse I met in March. Her only language is Spanish. She absolutely adores1 me. The old "get a girlfriend" advice when it comes to language learning works and is well supplemented by making friends with girls. In the early days and weeks here, my brain couldn't be arsed to try to decode what the boys were saying. Now that the decoding takes far less effort, the brain will bother to decode what the boys say only to be consistently underwhelmed with the poverty of content in their many words.

There's also a lot to be said for sending substantial periods of time alone with someone who only speaks the target language.

Despite being mostly functional in Spanish only environments I continue taking structured lessons three times a week. I still can not express every idea my brain bakes in English into the Spanish language, but I manage to produce effective Spanish language speech with the occasional misconjugation or misgendering.2 The need for clarification that follows in these cases creates opportunities for thoughtful composition practice, the only kind that matters.

The difference between thoughtful composition and parrot speaking of lines and scripts can't be emphasized enough. When you are Parrot speaking lines, every incident of novelty is a hard case your scripts can't cover. It can and did cover a substantial number of my everyday activities of living the first few weeks, but the utility is limited. To this end I have decided my goal in Spanish is literacy.

I have not not found any satisfactory definitions of fluency. The language learning fandom has busted the definition of "fluency" all to hell. My goal is literacy or bust and increasing my ability to function in the language still morealong the way. I'll have learned Spanish when I am reliably producing poetry in the language.

  1. This adoration is markedly distinct from the varieties of positive attention girls back home could muster. Back home a girl could like, love, or even obsess as their English as a single language programming would let them.  

  2. On the plus side I rarely now have verbal conversations in straight English without Spanglish intruding. That doesn't happen when I am speaking Spanish.  

The Most Patriotic I Have Ever Seen The Uruguayos

Today Uruguay won their first game of this World Cup, a 0-1 victory over Egypt which until nearly the end of the game looked like it could have ended a 0-0 draw as is typical of their beloved sport. With Egypt out of the way Uruguay should put up a double digit score again Saudi Arabia, win against Russia by at least one goal, and enter elimination play well positioned to make a deep run with the semi finals being a more likely outcome than a first round elimination. And…

Las Hinchas Piden Cuarto!

Incapable of ambition the population of this country has settled on THE QUARTER FINALS as their goal! Not win it all… not like they haven't done that twice already in 1930 and 1950. Out of the field of 32 making it to the last 8 is enough for your standardized Hincha Uruguaya. The 25th percentile is should be good enough for anyone, shouldn't it?

If Not One Thing The Other

Having survived a close encounter with pneumonia last month, this country made yet another attempt on my life as I slept last night. This time via the orc communication device.

No battery bloat, just a MicroUSB port that appear to have been in tramite to ignite that battery. The phone still works as of the time of this writing. Can't be recharged without at the very least replacing the MicroUSB port with one that doesn't have contacts covered by char and plastic.

Orc contacts recovered and a replacement communication device was put into service earlier today.

Humidity related short?

Over the air update to add murder mode?