I've been in Uruguay 10 whole days! The time has flown. Tania arrived March 4th after dropping off our cat with family in Mexico City. Until March 10th, we had been staying in a small apartment in Pocitos, one of Montevideo's many colonias. We just moved into a new apartment in Palermo, a beautiful 3-story building that was remodeled into apartments with wooden interiors, complete with a large roof space and grill.
Our time here has been really excellent so far. The group of scientists I'm collaborating with through Dr. Enrique Lessa, my Fulbright mentor at la Universidad de la República, have been very welcoming. Dr. Ivanna Tomasco picked me up at the airport on March 2nd, and Enrique took me on a fun tour through la Ciudad Vieja and other colonias of the city. He has a great memory for historical facts, and bus routes, despite not riding the buses here often. Enrique also took me to La Facultad de Ciencias to meet his lab, and is generously sharing his office with me (for now, we haven't been office buddies long enough for him to realize how much I hog desk space...). I'm also working with Dr. Bettina Tasso on animal use protocols, but we keep missing each other at la Facultad and haven't yet met in person. Patricia Vargas, the Fulbright Program Officer here, has also been very welcoming.
The trip hasn't been without its downsides. Whenever I take long trips out of the country, there's always something that doesn't turn out quite right, and these things just need to be taken in stride. As soon as I arrived in Montevideo, the (very friendly) customs agent told me I hadn't completed the right paperwork and are holding my research equipment until I get that paperwork done. Just a few days ago, an ATM swallowed my debit card without warning, and the bank that owned the card-eating ATM told us they must destroy international cards by law. And then I dropped apartment keys down an elevator shaft when we were moving out of our temporary apartment in Pocitos. Yes, writing all this in full disclosure is part of taking everything in stride. Live and learn people! Keep keys in your pockets, don't take multiple deposits out of the same ATM and keep plenty of pocket money handy to bribe customs officials...or just get the right paperwork done beforehand.
With that I will sign off till next time. There are other folks to contact, supermarkets to find and exploratory trips to plan! Despite the complications of moving between hemispheres for 9 months to do research, the excellent contacts I've made are proving to be very promising. And there are HORDES of monk parakeets...
PHOTO CRED. Tania Molina Medrano