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Dolores, Uruguay 18th July

July 19, 2014

Dolores, Uruguay 18th July.

This could be our last free camp of this trip. on the outskirts of the town of Dolores on the banks of the Rio Salvador. There was a track leading under the bridge, I investigated, it led to a water pumping station that supplied the town. The pump wasn’t working when we arrived, it was quiet, the bridge traffic was negligible. We settled in only to have a ute pull up with what we correctly thought, were 4 officers of the water department. They sprung out and headed towards us, ready, we anticipated, to get us to move on. But no, suddenly we were clasped in bear hugs and kisses on cheeks, Joan had a few more than me I noticed. No problems, stay as long as we like. The language is slowly becoming more comprehending and we were able to get the gist of most of what they were saying. Before leaving they gave us a New Testament with their names on it, the book was in Spanish, at least our Spanish will have a classical tone.A family of fishermen were next on the scene, unfortunately for them minnows were the order of the day.

The name Fray Bentos will bring memories to many of OXO cubes, corned beef, and tinned meals. Well, we visited the meat works, now a museum, where it all happened. Not often an abbatoir is a ‘must see’ for a country but the enterprise in Fray Bentos was amazing. And as it only closed down in 1980 after 127 years of operation the machinery used in those early days give the public an operating museum of that period. The origin of the word ‘OXO’ is quite amusing: the cubes were called ‘OX’ cubes but one of the employees accidentally added the extra ‘O’. It appealed, and remained that from then on.

Last night was spent in Fray Bentos at the Club Atletico Anglo club site and camping. I strolled in to the bar to make sure it was OK to stay, the bloke there said I must ask at the house where the owner lives, pointing to a large house raised above the road a short distance away. The concrete steps had awkwardly high rises leading to small wrought iron gates above which was a sign ‘Mansion 1907’. Grass was growing around the gate, there was no path to the house, just a worn track on the grass. I was starting to think of Miss Haversham and expecting a gaunt figure coming to the door dressed in turn of the century attire. The bell button though was newish and my ring was answered instead by a short. stooped lady with a welcoming smile who explained she was happy for us to stay, no tarifa. The site had electricity, hot water and clean toilets. It was most appreciated. Metres from our site water hyacinth rose and fell on the banks of the swollen Uruguay River.

Mercedes was only 30 odd kilomtres from F Bentos, there was a recommended campsite on an island in the Rio Negro that flows through the town, we thought a short drive would be nice for a chage. Unfortunately the river, like many others on our trip, was in flood and the island itself almost completely under water. 

The dogs whose company we have had the pleasure of enjoying are an amazingly friendly bunch here in Sth America so far. Sure, behind bars they will snarl and bark at you as if they will eat you alive. But get them in the open and they become the most docile bunch out. The other night, camped on the lake, Hector, the caretaker, tried to explain something to us about one of his dogs, he had three, but we didn’t really understand. Then, as the sun set and he and the other dogs headed home, this one Camilla, curled up a few metres from our door and stayed there well into the night. Every now and then we heard a growl as if something was concerning her.  I think the rain we experienced later in the night may have driven her home during the night, but she was back as soon as we opened the door in the morning. And last night there were two dogs at CA Anglo that kept watch during the night. We heard them bark from time to time. In the morning it wasn’t until I called them over did they come over and stand quietly waiting for a reward. That is just two examples. Lovely things, so different to the rabid monsters in Bali.

 

 

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