Sunday, December 18, 2011

Cell phone vignettes from 2011

Like most Montevideanos, I carry a cell phone that has a simple built-in camera. Here are a few pictures of the city, taken during 2011.

Visiting ANTEL's skyscraper they let me into the upper floor. Even in a gray day, the view is nice! Moreover, it is the only way to see the private areas of the harbor, on the Bella Vista side.


The whole city was in the street that happy night when Uruguay won the South America's Football Cup for the fifteenth time.


This truck from the 1930s is always around the Old City, but I don't think it is working. Looks like something out of the Untouchables TV series. I half expect to see Elliot Ness going out of the back doors.


The classic Customs building in the harbor, under the afternoon light. There is a man earnestly holding in place the no-U-turn sign. Montevideanos are so caring of their city.


Thanks for following these snaps. Merry Christmas and Happy 2012 to you all!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Work in progress

Visited again the Carrasco hotel, which is being thoroughly restored by Sofitel. People are working hard on the intrincate detail both inside and outside the building.

Workers on the windows

The building is surrounded by a tall metal fence, so you can only peek at what is going on inside. People will gladly paint on the fence; we are an artistic city.

Back view with fence

The work-in-progress at the Hotel Carrasco reminded me of the unfinished Lourdes church by the great Eladio Dieste, master of ceramic and brick structures. This 1934 church is located in Rivera avenue. It was going to be replaced (or complemented, I'll never know) by a Dieste masterpiece. Work started in 1965 and was interrupted in 1968, never to start again. Look at that unfinished bell tower at the back.

Nuestra Señora de Lourdes church

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Celeste madness, again.

You may have heard by now that Uruguay won the Copa América 2011, the South American competition of football teams. It was no mean feat to eliminate Argentina in their home turf in quarter finals, especially because the locals played well. Mexico and Peru went before, and our last rival, Paraguay, eliminated Brazil.

The explosion came last Sunday evening, after the final game with Paraguay ended with a 3-0 victory.


The city went stark, sky-blue mad for several hours. From grandparents to grandchildren, everybody went to the streets just to shout and wave the flag. I got the old camera out and went to the Rambla to see what was happening.


Hard to see who was crazier - us on the sidewalks or the car passengers!


People were heading to the Centenario stadium, to wait for the winning team. The team arrived there at 3 AM. Lots of disorders in the old stadium; nothing was prepared for the very long wait, and it seems that vigilance was slack. But then, who would have dared to prepare a celebration when the game was still to be played? It would have been most un-Uruguayan.


Next day, Monday, the city was a long yawn. Everybody had stayed up late, but there were a lot of happy faces. I had never seen before so many sky-blue pullovers, ties, shirts, you name it. A new fashion trend must have started while I was sleeping!

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Good bye to candombe weather

The April parade of candombe groups marks the end of the season. Cold weather and rain are just around the corner of the calendar.

The parade is all colors and joy.


Beautiful vedettes show off their graceful dance steps.


Mature dancers have their tricks, too.



See you again in Spring!


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Carmelo & Calera de las Huérfanas

Carmelo is a small town around Arroyo de las Vacas. It is the only town founded by Artigas himself. He knew what he was doing - it is a wonderful site.

There is a unique rotary bridge over the creek, does not get much use these days.

Carmelo bridge

Old dredges should be busy around nearby Martin Garcia island, but instead they just sit in the harbor, collecting rust.

Dredges in Carmelo

The Carmen sanctuary in Carmelo is one of the oldest on our little country.

Carmen church in Carmelo

Near Carmelo (about 6 km) you can see Calera de las Huerfanas. This is a place where the Jesuits had a mission until mid 18th century, including a lye works and mining site and a large cattle site. It became a Estancia after the Jesuits' expulsion. Now, a NGO is reclaiming the historical site - good work that should be supported.

Mission church

Jose de San Martin's family lived several years right here, although he was born later when they moved to Yapeyu, Corrientes province. Most of his siblings were born in this Estancia. They went on to fight for Spain in several theaters of war while Jose was liberating South America. Crazy times.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Wooden fruit boxes

Montevideo is full of fruit stalls which show off their products in open wooden boxes. The stall operators are not always keen about photography, but the colors and patterns are compelling.


The boxes are always scarce, they come and go from the main market to the stalls. Sometimes they break or get lost in transit. Market operators write their business names on the side, in an attempt to keep accounting and get their boxes back.


When piled to be loaded, sometimes the boxes make regular patterns, but not very much so. Nothing Uruguayan could be too regular.


Best part of this subject are the textures and tones. I like the following one because of the onions spilling out of the box.


Thanks for looking.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Carrasco Hotel goes on

I took another look at this beautiful historic building, located in Carrasco near the River Plate.

View from the Rambla corner

It's official - Sofitel is telling the world it's them doing the restoring job. Hope this means business.

Sofitel board

There is a tall hedge around the building, I could just point a camera at random over it. I should be taller. There's work being done inside.

Inside works

Restoring involves a lot of adornments, especially inside the building. But this window will give an idea of what is involved.


The area close to the hotel also needs some serious cleaning and restoring. Maybe it happens when the hotel is finished!


I will continue to follow this project from time to time. It will be a big symbolic event if the hotel starts working again.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bicycle race

When I was a child, bycicle races in the week of Carnival were a big thing. We followed the one-week race on the radio, sometimes even on a map, checking out the individual racers and their clubs. Like the Tour de France, only in the small and 50 years before. You know, time measurements, speculations and team strategy, who is getting away and who is catching up, the stars, the works. And all these before anti-doping control.

I remember going with my father to see the heroes go by in their high-tech bikes and to cheer for our favorites.

Last weekend, I went again to see the racers go by in their last few kilometers, half expecting the noise and the fury of the old days. Radio transmissions were exactly like I remembered them. I even suspect the same guy speaking, he must be close to retirement on the long side of it. They came quite on time - and fast!


But nowadays, the race seemed just fast and functional. About 1 minute before the racers, a couple of police bikes checked the area. All the bikers were through in a couple of minutes. The last ones had to compete with the CUTCSA passenger buses retaking their routes.

Maybe the Vuelta Ciclista in Holy Week gets more attention. I hate to see traditions pass away. I must be getting older than I thought.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Getting close with a mirror

I'm looking again at the city sights, now through the eye a 500mm f8 cheap mirror lens.

Here's a Buceo Harbor pilot launch, going fast to meet an incoming ship. It is fighting the waves, at a few hundred meters from the camera.


An experienced line fisherman gets a very close portrait.

You can explore the details of a fishing boat, anchored 15 m away from the camera. That is, if your hand keeps steady. This is not a lens for nervous photographers.


Highlights, out of focus, turn into rings. Looking at the sun reflections on the water produces a kaleidoscope of rings, alive with movement and tones.


Film: Ilford Pan 400, exposed at EI 200, developed in ID-11 1:1.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Homage to Playa Verde

Playa Verde (Green Beach) is a small coast resort near Piriapolis, about 95 km east of Montevideo. A good place for a family to spend a summer vacation.


It is a relatively old place. This building used to be a diligence base and a hotel for travelers, according to local folklore.


A lot of birds live on the eucaliptus and pine trees.


And insects too; this giant moth is about 64mm long. The white disc is a 5-pesos coin, diameter 1 inch. Excuses for the grain, not a very professional scanning.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Best season of the year is back. Time to rest wherever you can, if you can. A hammock in the shadow, close to trees full of birds, is not a bad place.


The eucaliptus trees in our coast have strange shapes in their bark.


Summer sunsets - the silence, sea sounds and cool breeze cannot be photographed.