I'm Dreaming Of A White Christmas...

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate the day! Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year to everyone!!! Our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree & Little F With An Angel

This is a season of strong emotion for us- as it is for many people. We have chosen not to travel back 'home' for Christmas and rather travel in the summer (June/July) to the US when we can enjoy the weather there and get away from the winter here in Argentina.

That does not make this time of year any easier. As we struggle to create warm-weather Christmas traditions without our extended family nearby, it doesn't quite seem like Christmas to us. We both grew up in the upper midwest of the United States. Christmas meant cold and snow and baking Christmas cookies and navigating holiday storms/slippery roads to visit family.

Visiting Papa Noel December 2013

Our Christmas in Argentina will consist of opening up a family present to each of the girls on Christmas eve, along with setting out cookies/milk for Santa and carrots for the reindeer. Unfortunately no homemade cookies this year. 100 F heat with a broken AC is too warm to turn on the oven. We'll be streaming Christmas music on the ipad (avoiding "I'll be Home For Christmas"-- that always makes me cry) and enjoying plenty of ice cream and many a frosty beverage in an attempt to keep cool.

Christmas morning will be chaotic, like many households with young kids. Our 6 year old and 1.5 year old will dive into their presents and we'll take a few new pool toys out to enjoy right after breakfast. Christmas day will be no baking for us. We'll be grilling salmon and beef tenderloin on the parilla and taking dips in the pool to cool off in between cooking.

Christmas memories will not always be like this and we are planning to enjoy a snowy white Christmas with family again very soon. Right now though, our Christmas is bittersweet. We are missing family and the Christmas experience of our childhood as we create a new 'normal' warm weather Christmas for our girls. Lets just hope that I don't start bawling during all of our planned skype calls with family! :)

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Argentina!!! XOXOXOXOXO!!!

It's Here!

Today it’s here.  Autumn in Montevideo.  Cold, rainy and windy as all hell. I knew it would be on it’s way, but not quite so soon. Last year this time was still warm and mild, a late summer after we’d first arrived here.  It was glorious.

Today, after two full days of rain, the winds really picked up.  I do love the leaves blowing about and the amazing pink-flowering trees that have been all aglow in blossoms.  I’ve intended to get photos- but alas, the high winds today have probably stolen my opportunity.  Much the same thing happened with some glorious purple-flowering trees last spring. We shall see them again, I am sure.

I really look forward to this winter with roaring fires in our fireplace (note to self: order more firewood), knitting in earnest again, crisp sunny days when I walk G to the jardín, and a plethora of warm beverages. After a year here, I am finally ready to take up the habit of drinking mate.  It makes complete sense to me now. Cool, damp, blustery days were made for mate.  Just to refresh your memories: Mate is the drink typical of Uruguay and Argentina that is served in a hollowed out gourd and carried with a thermos of hot water, ready for the refill.  It is a perfect way to maintain a toasty drink at the ready all day long and with minimal effort.  I’ve got a feeling that my winter will be much more comfortable!

Looking back on it, I am so thankful for our amazing getaway on one of the last perfect beach weekends this summer. Yes, I know, I still have two more parts to write about that saga, but hey, now that it’s cold, I’ll definitely spend more time indoors writing.  There’s just so much LIVING to do, it’s hard for me to sit and journal everything.

It all boils down to this: Another season, another change, another side of Montevideo.  We learned from last year.  We'll do a few things differently this fall and winter.  Just try to avoid falling branches in this wind...

El Temporal de Santa Rosa

El Temporal de Santa Rosa is scheduled to hit Montevideo on Sunday Night or Monday, August 30-31st -- Right on target. The story goes that Santa Rosa of Peru prayed for a large storm to thwart an impending invasion.  Her efforts worked and the storm held off the attack. Although the feast day of Santa Rosa is celebrated on August 30th, the storm has been known to hit this area anywhere from the 25th of August to the 5th of September, bringing rain, high winds and hail.

We have el Temporal de Santa Rosa to thank for the amazing weather here the last few days. Today was 30 degrees Celcius (or 86 Fahrenheit), which is all due to the prevailing weather patterns this time of year, with the hot air from the north colliding with the Antarctic air from the south. Whether the Santa Rosa story of thwarting the enemy was invented because the storm happens to coincide with the saint's feast day, who knows. What we do know is that the storm happens and with some regularity- especially in the last 15 years. In 2005 there was a tremendous Santa Rosa storm where 10 people were killed, many trees were lost and buildings damaged in Uruguay.

There is a thunderstorm forecasted for Sunday night and then possible rain all week through Thursday. While I'm not looking forward to a possible 3+ days and nights of rain that is forecasted, I take this all as a very good sign because el Temporal de Santa Rosa is seen as the start of spring on the Rio de la Plata.

Another recent write up of 'El Temporal' is in this month's issue of Ola Uruguay, a site with some great Uruguay information geared towards investors and retirees.

The Weather

My life is tied to the local weather more in Uruguay than ever before.  Am I going to walk Geneva to the jardín or take a cab? Should I start the laundry or not? Should Alejandra clean the back patio today or will her efforts be washed away in a few hours? Do I start the fireplace now or wait? I find myself checking out the weather websites frequently. My favorite is Weather Underground.  You can see hour-by-hour forecasts as well as historical data for a day or month at a time. This is very helpful as we count the days until warmer weather. The forecasts come from a central location in Prado and the local conditions come from a variety of sources, including the Carrasco airport and the MADIS reporting station in Uruguay, and are as accurate as weather forecasts can be.

You can set your profile on Weather Underground with preferred cities, your weather icons of choice and Celsius or Fahrenheit (Brad's profile is in Fahrenheit, mine Celsius).

If there seems to be an inconsistency between what is happening outside and what is forecasted, we'll sometimes look up El Pais weather.  El Pais can occasionally have different information than Weather Underground, but usually the difference is just a few degrees and nothing major.

Weather in Uruguay tends to be consistently humid and breezy.  Winters are damp and cool (with very rare freezing) and summers are warm and sunny with infrequent bursts of rain. Note that if you're directly on the coast or even a few blocks in, the winds can be stronger than the forecasted and as a result, it can feel cooler.  The rain and thunderstorms that we've experienced this winter have come in waves and once started can last hours.

While I do plenty of looking at the sky to see what it the weather is like at a given moment, our wonderful technological tools can help when planning out a few days. Today it says it's going to be sunny and mid-to-upper 60's through Monday.... perfect!!

Thanks to Our Readers!

Thanks to all of you who have been sending us email, commenting on our posts and 'voting' in the polls! We've been working to get back to everyone and we're excited that we have so many readers.  I'm nearly caught up on responses.  We also LOVE comments on our blog posts- new or old. Don't be shy! Of course I have a list of potential posts that I need to write, including a new series that is in the works.  I've also been editing some of our previous posts with updated information.  Life in a new country is a constant learning experience! If you haven't looked back in our archives for a while,  now is the time to do it. Check out our information, observations and rantings.

We're excited to see spring right around the corner in our part of the southern hemisphere. Energy is high and we can't wait to get out to the beaches in another month or two. October and November are going to be great months here and I already know of a few families planning to arrive then. When are YOU going to join us in Uruguay???

All Our Best,

Lisa, Brad and G

The Art of Fire: Our Wood-Burning Fireplace

We left our native Minneapolis, MN in March with snow on the ground and arrived here in Montevideo, to gorgeous summer weather. That summer weather lasted about 8 weeks and now we are enjoying the cool, crisp winter days with chilly nights. It's still beautiful here...many clear, sunny days with the smell of burning fire wood heavy in the air. It seems so strange to have winter in mid-July. Opposite seasons in the southern hemisphere will seem surreal for a while.

The Pugs with the best seat in the houseIt is common for many homes in Uruguay to rely on wood burning fireplaces as a source of heat. The cool, damp air is penetrating and like ours, many homes do not have central heating. It is time for us to master the fireplace. Our fireplace is open with no damper and no doors, so the learning curve has been high. There's been adventure with not-so-dry wood from the supermercado and the fireplace not venting. Besides filling the room with smoke a few times and smoke detectors beeping frequently, it's been fun and we are now semi-skilled at the art of fire making.

After getting our fireplace cleaned, purchasing a screen and some tools (all courtesy of our landlord), we were set to order our first load of firewood. We planned to order quite a bit so we'd have some left over after heating season to use in our outdoor parilla. We ordered 1/2 ton of mixed wood for delivery. That is a whopping 500 kilos for the low, low price of $1450 (approx U$S 60) which included an extra $100 pesos to bring it to the back of the house. It was delivered yesterday and neatly stacked for us, but there was a mix-up. The delivery was all large split logs of astilla and none of the other types of wood we had requested. After calling back, we opted to get another 1/2 ton of the additional kinds of wood, and they would still deliver the same day: leña de monte, rolos secos and atados for an additional $1250 pesos (approx U$S 52). Now we know exactly what a ton of wood looks like!

There is something very comforting about not only a real wood fireplace, but the stacks of beautiful wood ready to give us heat in the cold evenings.  We'll continue to hone our fire making skills and hopefully Geneva won't have to say "Beep, beep, beep!" anymore to mimic to the smoke detectors.

Our wood came from La Costanera. They were excellent.  We worked out the mix-up in wood types quickly and they came back the same day with the additional order.  The young delivery guys were very fast and courteous.

Firewood delivery :

La Costanera

tel: 601 4074

La Costanera delivery truck

Stack of mixed wood at the front of our house