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Montevideo, 15th June.

June 15, 2014

It took two days but the van finally exited the port on Friday late afternoon. It should have taken just the one day but we had to backtrack a couple of times to get more paperwork or photocopies etc. Hence the earlier post that may help other overlanders. It was good seeing the bakkie sitting there with the All Terrains still in place and nothing missing from the back. We head off tomorrow heading north along the coast instead of west then north. It appears the van will be stored  near Montevideo when we head home so will be able to see more of the sights in thiis area then. At the shipping agent we met an English family who shipped their Mercedes ex-ambulance. They happened to walk past us today while our van was being packed. The English agent had told us to make sure customs had access to all parts of the vehicle, something that disturbed us a bit. Well, it appears part of their Merc was locked and customs didn’t have a key. They broke into it and literally ransacked the vehicle knicking some of the boys favourite toys as well as drugs for an allergy one of them suffers from. Dan has a suspicion it happened in the UK before going onto the boat. 

Near us is a market place called Mercado de Puerto. It is a vast area of restaurants all under the one roof. It is not an area for vegetarians as carne is the order of the day and a lot of it. No matter what cut you choose it seems to always fill the plates with not much in the way of accompaninents: maybe a few chips or a few lettuce leaves and sliced tomato. Groups often have the one large plate piled high with the different cuts. The place was pretty full when we were there, mostly locals or so it seemed. 

In both BA and here a common sight in the street is people, mainly men, walking around sucking through a metal straw from a bowl filled with a green herb with a thermos under one arm. Mate (matay) is the national drink here, not sure you would call it addictive, maybe a bit like caffeine drinks that can hook you. The thermos holds hot water which they top the bowl up with from time to time. It looks quite amusing seeing all types, even business men walking around sucking from a straw. Joan has just said it contains caffeine and comes from a rain forest tree that grows through this part of Sth America. Part of the holly family. In Uruguay 10kg of the herb is consumed  annually per capita.

For the last three weeks we have stayed in apartments all organiized through the web site http://www.airbnb.com All the 4 accommodation we have stayed in have been excellent value and have had everything we required. Two were $55 p/n, one a little dearer, and we splurged for the one in Mendoza at $107 p/n. The one we are in now is in the older part of the city but was renovated a couple of years back. It is excellent value. We would recommend airbnb anyday.

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