Sunday, 16 March 2014

So near and yet so far

Heavy clouds are gathering above the skyline of Montevideo, our brave ship is jerking in the gale force wind. The port of Montevideo is closed...

It seems just a bunny hop, crossing the Rio de La Plata, from the southern end to the northern one. But it isn't, the river's mouth is wide as an ocean. And the laws of nature dictate that a stream, that suddenly has more room will lose lots of its capacity to transport sediment. So the waters are murky and - above all - shallow, thus generating a pretty wild surface.
So we spend a good part of the morning just waiting, literally for better weather. 
And our optimism is rewarded shortly after ten in the morning - the port reopens, letting us enter, past the not overly inviting ship junkyard. But still, we are there! Everybody heaves a sigh of relief, especially the two pilots who certainly would not have appreciated to stay on for Brazil...
Seems that it is only the weather which is a little complicated here - immigration and paperworks are done in 5 minutes, so everybody is free to leave and spend the next seven hours al gusto. Many decide to take the comprehensive excursion through city and surroundings and to have lunch at a renowned winery out of town.
But also without excursion the city has much to offer. It is not easy to put a finger on the architectural style here, for many eras, many cultures and many artists have had their saying; so the overall picture is not entirely coherent. But really beautiful, colorful, delightful.
A distinct smell of grilled beef hangs in the air, emerging from the Mercado do Puerto, which houses numerous Parillas (steak houses), wineries, bars and cafes. Loads of people, thousands of steaks per day, accompanied by Uruguayan red wine and Tango music. Seems that the same traditions and the same specialties are prevailing on both sides of the Rio.
The sun has won. Under a blue sky we cast lines for one week of sailing now.
Dear followers of MV FRAM's expedition blog:
As we are going to be out at sea for one week now, we will not encounter a great variety of sights and situations. This is also what this trip is about - tuning in into the slow pace of the ocean. So the blog will do the same, meaning that only every other day there will be a newsflash about what is going on here on board.
So, don't be alarmed - we are still out there, heading your way!