Monday, July 07, 2014

Recently...

I tend to feel like I can only update if I catch up on everything I’ve missed.  That is too much to catch up on, though!  Maybe I will get to it in more detail later, but here are some of the things that have happened and are going on now:

We left Uruguay.

  It was winter there.


We went to Canada, stopping in Peru and Dallas along the way.

In Peru, Paisley and I went to go see Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca.  At Machu Picchu Paisley wanted to walk for a lot of it, and she kept announcing "I really love steps!"  That made a lot of people around us laugh, since it was warm and there are a ton of steps, so everyone around us was sick of them.  For Lake Titicaca, we did a two day tour with a homestay, and we attended (Mormon!) church on the Uros Floating Islands.  I'll need to just write about the Peru trip another time.




Machu Picchu!

Lake Titicaca, from Taquile Island

In Dallas, we visited Jessica and Mitch for several days, and celebrated Paisley’s second birthday with them.  Paisley had a fun birthday.

  (Paisley immediately loved "Aunt Jexica" and they were great friends for our whole visit.)

Paisley and Aunt Jexica
Our family, with Paisley's Favorite Things poster for this year.

Pais with her birthday cake.  Endless Alphabet/Reader themed.

Now that we are in Vancouver, it is really nice to have access to a lot of stuff that we had been missing.  (Like, traffic patterns that are easy to navigate, easy conversations in English, and Whole Foods.)  



We have been spending time each week with my dad's twin, Uncle Rick, who also lives here in Vancouver.  We had him over for dinner a couple weeks ago, and last week he invited us to celebrate Canada Day with him downtown.  We had fun with that.  We enjoy visiting with him.

Pais with Uncle Rick on Canada Day!  Uncle Rick is a genuine Canadian.

I switched to eating a paleo diet just before we left Uruguay, and now that we are in Canada that is much easier.




This is my CrossFit box.  I love it!!
A week ago I also started CrossFit and I am a little obsessed with that right now.  I really love it!  Every time I go, I have the best workout of my life at least twice.  I’m still in my intro phase where I’m working with a trainer to learn the fundamentals, so I’m not even into the real group regular CrossFit workouts, but it is intense, and leaves me feeling tired but good.  I can’t remember ever sweating so much!  I think that if I keep going and keep eating the way I’m eating, I’m going to see some exciting results.   
 
Pais started a summer Kindermusik class and she loves it.  Last time we did Kindermusik she was about 9 months old and it was kind of during her nap time so she sometimes got fussy and was not very into it.  Now, she’s the kid that runs around to be with the teacher and dig right in to whatever they’re doing next.  She gets so excited about every little activity they do.  It is cute. 
Pais sitting with her teacher Phyllis (instead of me!) during Kindermusik.

We got a new (to us) car a few days ago.  It is a Honda CRV.


This is our new car.  It is fine.

I drive to the US regularly for raw milk, because we haven’t found any here yet.



Now we are beginning to plan our next adventures.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

First Aid Kits Around the World: Uruguay

I have always had a keen fondness for preparedness items.  It was a little hard to put all of our preparedness stuff in storage for our travels, because if we're in any kind of emergency, ironically we will likely be under-prepared, despite all of our efforts to be prepared.  I thought long and hard about bringing the HAM radio, but ultimately I left it back in Utah.

It is hard to stay prepared when you can't have much stuff, but we do little things: we have good international medical insurance; I carry a large, well-stocked first aid kit; I brought a water purifier that we have never ever used...those sorts of things.

First aid kits attract me like a magnet--I can hardly resist!  What does another culture think is important, if you just have a few things, to help you in an emergency?

I bought my first foreign first aid kit also here in Uruguay, from a grocery store.  I will have to see if I can find the pictures of it and post another time.

So, this is actually my second Uruguayan first aid kit.  They had a big bin of them at Tienda Inglesa this week, almost as if they're a seasonal item.  They cost $699 pesos Uruguayos, which is about $30.  Jeff told me we don't need more stuff.  I told him it wasn't like we had to take it with us, we could just leave it here in the apartment.  He said good, but it looks like more stuff to him, so he wasn't going to pay for it.  Whatever.  I bought it.  It's not like we have to keep it.

It says:
MALETIN CON ELEMENTOS
DE PREMEROS AUXILIOS Y SEGURIDAD VIAL
+
911 - POLICIA   108 - CAMINERA   104 - BOMBEROS

Or, in other words, it is a:
CASE WITH SUPPLIES
OF FIRST AID AND ROAD SAFETY  [I didn't know VIAL was a road thing, though, I thought it was vital, meaning very necessary.]
+
911 - POLICE   108 - HIGHWAY PATROL [Police here don't do traffic stops, I don't think.] 104 - FIREMEN

I thought that was a nice touch to have the important numbers on the outside.
On the back there is a list of contents, in abbreviated Spanish, so I was able to guess about several items.

So, opening it up...

What's in my Purse: First Aid Kit Edition





And here are all of the contents:
ALL RIGHT!  So, starting on the left side...
1) a little LED flash light.  But, it requires 3 AAA batteries, so hopefully you've added them before you're in an emergency and you open the plastic on the first aid kit to discover you need them.
2) 2 big, very absorbent pads.
3) 2 small rolls of loose-weave gauze.
4) 2 packages that each have two square pieces of gauze.  Possibly sterile, possibly non-stick.  Definitely looks like the part you're supposed to put directly on a wound.
5) 1 small roll of medical tape.  The paper kind.
6) 1 small pair of blunt scissors.  With centimeter measurements on both sides.
7) 1 XL neon orange vest, with reflective tape around it.
8) 1 XXL neon yellow vest.
9) 2 pairs of latex gloves.
10) the case it all came in.
11) a red biohazard bag.

Antibiotic ointment?  No.  Tylenol or asprin?  No.  Burn cream?  No.  A band-aid?  No.

That's it, folks!  It puts the "first" in "First Aid" because I don't know of many medical problems that won't require more care than this.  But it is something to start with, anyway.

This is kind of interesting because a couple days ago I saw a couple people stopped on the side of a road, one changing a flat on a scooter, and someone else with a car that had broken down.  In both cases, it was starting to get dark on an unlit road.  The scooter guy was wearing a reflective vest (I think there is a law here saying that people wearing scooters are required to wear a neon vest).  The guy with the broken down car was also wearing a neon vest, and he was popping up a little reflective triangle thing to set in front of his car.  That was it.  No road flares.  No glow sticks.  I was happy for him that he had the little reflector, because 20 minutes after I passed, as it got darker, it would have been really tough to see him.  People drive fast on those roads.

It does seem like a weird kit for in a car.  Do you know what people need here?  Jumper cables.  The law says you have to drive with your lights on all the time, so people forget to turn them off, and then you have a dead battery.  That happened to us once.  We were renting a car at the time, so we called the rental place, and they had us call the automobile club (they had a membership), and someone came out and started it for us.  Another time, I saw someone having their car jumped by the police.  Interesting.  I wouldn't have thought to call the police to jump my car.  We bought a cheap set of jumper cables for our car, just in case. 

So, if you choose to buy the Tienda Inglesa first aid kit, you can basically soak up a bunch of blood from a wound (and dispose of it in a biohazard bag), put a dressing on the wound with maybe-sterile gauze, wrap that with loose, rolled gauze and tape it shut.  Then put on a bright vest and hope someone finds you!  But hopefully, if you're in Uruguay, you'll find the Devoto first aid kit instead, and use that.  It has more useful stuff.  And then if you want a vest, you can easily find those at any large store.

Maybe later I will update with pictures from our other first aid kit, or tell about our hospital visit.  Fun, fun! 

(PS, the first aid kit that we really carry with us for our travels is the Adventure Medical Kits World Travel Kit.  It is a little big, but well worth the luggage space.)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Trying to get our car washed in Uruguay

I have been trying to get a car wash here in Uruguay.  We want the inside and outside cleaned.

Yesterday I went to a car wash place ("lavadero") in a nearby city that I knew washed cars because when we were looking for a laundry place ("lavadero") before, I called and they said they are a car wash ("lavadero DE AUTOS!").  Except it wasn't the same place, because it was actually a laundry service (where were they when we were needing laundry done??).

But then I found a sign saying LAVADERO - autos - motos - in 50 meters, so I followed the sign and drove past a man sitting in front of his house with a vacuum and a bucket.  Hmm, not what I had in mind.  What would we do in a poor little neighborhood while we waited?  I couldn't imagine that his vacuum could really have adequate suction to get the inside cleaned like we wanted.  I worried that he would have old, very used cleaning materials that would scratch the car.  I don't know, maybe it would have been fine.  Or, maybe it was fine for all of the old cars in his neighborhood but it wasn't the best option for a new car.

I decided to try a gas station, because they offer a service ("complete wash") available for about $15 USD at most (all?) gas stations here, and when I have asked them before they said yes, they can clean the inside and outside.  Most of them don't have a drive through car wash, they have a room with some sprayers; it looks like a decent set-up for a car wash done by hand.

I had this great idea that I would go shopping at the mall while I waited for the car to be washed at a gas station across the parking lot.  Except, they wanted me to wait over 5 hours.  Okay, so I will bring the car back 4 pm?  No, I had to leave it there, no appointments.  Hmmm, okay, Paisley and I can't spend 5 hours at the mall while we just wait for the car to be washed.

So I went to another one, because maybe that one is just busy because other people want to shop while their car is washed also.

They could do it, it would be ready at 4 pm.  And that one was not by any shopping at all!  So...5 hours with nothing to do!  I started to feel kind of frustrated.  I asked him, what, do people take a taxi home?  Do they all live within walking distance?  He said no, and then I didn't understand the rest, I think you bring your car there and they take you home and then they bring you back to pick up your car when it is done.  He asked if I am American.  Yes.  Oh, yes, it is a very popular service among consulate people, etc.  I am about 30% confident that this is the service that he described.  But it sounded awkward, like, instead of taking the time to drive me around town twice, could you just use that time to wash my car?  And it didn't seem like he was really actually offering me a ride back, and installing Paisley's car seat just for a ride seemed like a pain, so I decided not to attempt that.

So I started going to the big store to get car washing supplies so that I could wash it myself, although we don't have a vacuum so I didn't know what I was going to do for that...and I passed another gas station and stopped to ask them.  He said he could do it, but that he needed to finish the one he was doing, so I would have to leave the car.  It will be ready in an hour and a half.  My heart sang!  ESTA BIEN!

The special thing about that place--aside from the really fast service--is that they are a quick 15 minute walk from our apartment!  So we just walked home to wait for the car, and then I will walk back when it is ready.

Just another experience of something that is probably easy and no big deal for Uruguayos, and a confusing hassle for us.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Endless Alphabet and Reader Characters: Big Blue

Big Blue is probably the character from Endless Alphabet / Endless Reader that appears most often.  Big Blue is a male monster who usually behaves responsibly.  In Endless Numbers his birthday cake has sixteen candles, so he is approximately 16 years old.  My guess is that he is the older brother of two other characters, Little Blue and Bean, because he often appears with them while performing guardian-type tasks, but this is never stated, and it is possible that he is modeled after an uncle or another friendly relationship. [This theory is also not supported by a couple scenes--for example, Big Blue is part of the one big happy monster family, but neither Little Blue nor Bean appear in that movie.]
Big Blue is reasonably active.  He cannot fly.  To go swimming, he wore an orange mask and fins, although we didn’t see him in the water because Pistachio was taking up the whole pool.  At the park he chooses to swing, with Pinkerton.  When exercising with other monsters, we saw Big Blue wearing a sweatband and stretching for his toes.  We also saw him ride a bike with Dapper Dandy and Pinkerton.


Big Blue likes to play with a ball—between Endless Alphabet and Endless Reader I noticed at least three times that he was playing ball; once alone, once with Little Blue, and once Sam caught his ball.  Another time when Big Blue is on an island, he makes a friend out of a coconut (reminding us of Tom Hanks’ Wilson in Castaway); Big Blue is lonely by himself, which may be part of the reason he appears so often with other monsters.

Big Blue plays the banjo, although he had trouble finding it for one word.  His talent with the banjo is not a big surprise, because those who are familiar with Endless Alphabet already know that he is a “musician” capable of playing the electric guitar, since he played in a band with Rod and Cone, Scampi, and Francis.  Big Blue is also a photographer, and he knows how to yodel.

We often see Big Blue in the role of an adult.  As mentioned above, he swings with Pinkerton when some of the monsters are at the park, and he also rides a bicycle with Pinkerton.  Big Blue is often seen with Little Blue—helping him reach cookies, watching clouds or bouncing a ball together, and celebrating various events.  Big Blue expected Sherbert to say please when she wanted some cupcake and then he shared half with her.  Big Blue occasionally feeds Bean—he fed Bean when Bean was very hungry because he hadn’t eaten breakfast, another time he let Bean have cake if he ate dinner, and another time he gives Bean broccoli when Bean wants a cupcake.


Big Blue is a popular guest at monster festivities.  He is part of “one big happy monster family”, he attended a big monster dance party, and he was present at the party to “celebrate” Little Blue’s third birthday. He also eats “scrumptious” cake with Little Blue and Rocky to celebrate the one year anniversary of Endless Alphabet.  This suggests that Big Blue and Little Blue may be the most original characters from the cast of EA characters. 

Big Blue also appears in a few random words that don’t seem to have much to do with anything: he dyed a shirt orange with Eli, drank a potion that made him “gargantuan”, he is overwhelmed by multiplying little green things, and he yawns and falls asleep while reading books.

Big Blue runs across the screen to scatter letters both with the group, and separately with only Little Blue.

(For the full list of characters from Endless Alphabet and Endless Reader, click here.)

Endless Alphabet and Reader Characters Biography Project

I've decided to make a little series of blog posts about the characters from Endless Alphabet and Endless Reader, because there is nothing about them anywhere on the Internet, aside from blogs and award pages recommending the app.  As I have watched Paisley play them I noticed a few cute themes and the researcher in me wanted to see what all we know about the characters and put it somewhere.

So, I've gone through each of the words in Endless Alphabet and Endless Reader, taken a bunch of screenshots, compiled information about each character, and I am working to turn my notes into little biographies for each character.  This is also part of another project that I will blog about later.

For now, here is the list of characters I have noticed, and I will begin posting information and pictures for each of the characters as I have the chance to turn my outlines into little biographies.  Then I will link this post to the pages about the characters.

(If anyone reads my blog and is not interested in an application for little kids, feel free to skip these posts!)

List of Characters that Appear in Endless Alphabet and Endless Reader:
(listed in order by approximately how often they appear, from most to least)

1. Big Blue
2. Little Blue
3. Yoshi
4. Scampi
5. Pinkerton
6. Pistachio
7. Rocky
8. Sherbert
9. Francis
10. Eli
11. Grok
12. Grumpkin
13. Rod and Cone
14. Dapper Dandy
15. Tuttle
16. Sam
17. Sunny
18. Amy
19. Bean
20. Green monster with lots of little legs
21. Purple DJ monster


Another time I will also discuss the six types of word movie clips I have noticed.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Some of our language mistakes. (And some other things about Uruguayan Spanish.)

Our Spanish is improving a little bit.  We've had a tutor come teach us at our house 4 or 5 days a week for the past few months, so I think we hoped we would have seen more improvement, but oh well.  It's something.

I thought I would just share a few funny Spanish errors that we've made.

I mentioned the grocery store "Tienda Inglesa" in a previous post.  Jeff almost always calls that store "Tienda Iglesia" and it always makes me laugh.  (Tienda Inglesa means "English Store", and Tienda Iglesia means "Church Store".)

When Jeff is talking about things that are old, he very often calls them "viaje" ("trip") instead of "viejo" or "vieja" ("old").  It makes whatever he is talking about sound a lot more exotic because I picture a vacation version of whatever he is talking about. 

My mistakes are usually not as amusing.  Or if they are, I don't know it.  Occasionally I will feel like I am communicating just GREAT and the person I am talking to will seem confused.  Those times I realize I am interjecting some Italian.  A lot of times Italian works here (even if it wouldn't work in other Spanish-speaking places) because there are a lot of Italian immigrants, and the dialect occasionally reflects that.

The Spanish here is not normal Spanish, it is Rio Platense Spanish, so they use a different accent (j and ll sound like "zhu" instead of "yu"), a different tu form (vos), and a lot of different words.  People here also often don't pronounce the ends of words.  This means my ability to communicate depends a lot on who I am talking to.  Sometimes I feel like I speak Spanish quite well, and other times I feel like I don't speak any "Spanish" at all.  It really ranges.

Sometimes I'll get several compliments on my Spanish, and other times the people around me at the store are like "ohhhh, she doesn't speak Spanish" and occasionally people volunteer to help me by translating.  Usually (I think!) I am decent and can communicate but sometimes don't know specific words.  Other times I feel tongue-tied, I can't think of words I need, and just kind of shrug and smile.

I have made a couple dumb mistakes at the grocery store lately.  (A lot of our Spanish interactions are in grocery stores since we have no friends here.)  This one time, I walked up and set my items on the space by the cashier, but she was counting her change.  She told me she was done, and I nodded and then I realized I didn't know if she was done working for then or if she was almost done doing stuff with change or what.  A cashier a couple lanes down announced that his register was open, and I thought he was telling other people.  Then I started to wonder if I was supposed to go to the other line.  So I picked up my stuff and went to the lane of the cashier who was available.  I was only buying a few things, though, so when I left a few moments later I saw that she was helping someone else.  That must have been really weird to tell me that she was just about ready, and then I picked up my stuff and changed lanes.

Or another time recently a cashier was talking to me about Paisley--everyone loves her--and she asked me how old Paisley was, I thought, but I didn't hear her well, so I said nineteen months...but then by how she responded I realized she had actually asked how long we had been in Uruguay.  But it was too tricky to explain that I thought she had said something else (because that's like...past...subjunctive? or some less regular verb tense), so I just went with it.  But I felt like an idiot, because I would really hope that if we had been here for close to two years, I hope that my Spanish would be better.  How embarrassing!  (I think we need more interaction with local people, to practice.)

When we were in Colonia del Sacramento we were out looking for a place open for breakfast and I asked a waitress if they served "desayuno" (des-eye-oon-oh).  She had no idea what I was saying, so I repeated myself a couple times.  She was lost until she suddenly figured it out.  "Ah!  Desayuno!" (des-ah-zhu-no!)  YES.  THAT.   For the longest time I felt almost as if I were making fun of them when I pronounced things their way, since it is not good/real Spanish, and it feels very unnatural to me...but our Spanish teacher has assured us that it doesn't come across as rude, and we agree that it would be nice to be better understood, so I'm working on it.  

But, if I were talking to someone with a Texan accent or a British accent and I suddenly assumed a bad fake accent matching theirs, wouldn't that come across as rude?  And that reminds me of something else that I thought was funny...

Our Spanish teacher speaks English very well.  She speaks American English, but tries to teach us in Spanish unless we don't understand or need a more precise clarification or when we relax a little bit and just want to be understood for a moment.  I think she's been working with us since November.  Somehow, it must have been in mid-January, something came up and I asked her about learning American English (maybe we were talking about how much American TV they get here?) and she admitted that she learned British English in school.  I asked her so, when she is with her friends that speak English, does she speak American or British English.  British English.  She said she actually prefers British English.  Whaaaaatt.....?  All along I had no idea!  She just uses an American accent for while she teaches us.  I thought that was very funny.  It probably helps.

Sorry I have no pictures to go along with this!  Annnd, Paisley just woke up so I had better post this and go help her.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Residency in Uruguay: Adding our Birth Certificates to the Civil Registry

As we've been working to obtain residency in Uruguay it has been a little bit of a process to figure out what we need and where.  There is information online for expats who want residency in Uruguay, but most of it is outdated, so I thought I would post a more recent explanation of what we've been doing, and what they have expected from us.  That way if anybody else is looking for information there is something a little more recent.

Registro Civil, at calle Uruguay 933!
One of the requirements for residency is that we need to be add our birth certificates and marriage certificate to the Uruguay civil registry (Registro Civil).  This is one of the parts that takes the longest, so it is good to do as early as possible.

First of all, you need copies of your birth certificates, marriage certificate (if you're married) and/or divorce decree (if you're divorced).  I can only speak about the process from the United States, since that is where we are from, so it may be different for people from other countries.  Although we did not originally plan to become residents of Uruguay, I had photocopies of our birth certificates and a real copy of our marriage certificate with us just in case we ever needed them.  These copies were useless.  Uruguay has joined the Hague Convention, so in order for documents to be accepted, they need Apostille.  So, we ordered new documents, and apostilles from the United States.  If you know that you're moving to Uruguay, it would be much, much easier to obtain birth certificates and apostilles before you leave the United States! 

After we had our documents and apostilles, I took them to the Ministry of External Relations to be legalized and they just kind of smiled and me and politely assured me that I didn't need anything from them, I just needed to deposit them at the Civil Registry.

I knew they would need to be translated, though.  So, we did that.

Then, we used the translated birth certificates to get our cedulas (identity cards).

Today I took all of our birth certificates to the civil registry.  They told me they will be ready in a month.

So, for those who are looking for more specific details, here is what we did:

1. Obtain documents from the United States.
- We ordered all of our documents online, using VitalChek.   In order for the orders to be processed, each state requires something different for identification: Arizona wanted a copy of Jeff's driver's license and his signature.  At the time that I placed my order, Utah asked me a few questions to verify my identity (the questions were like when you order a credit report).  California was the worst--they required a notarized statement from me saying that I was authorized to request it.  In Montevideo the only place that I know of that offers a United States Notary Public is the US Embassy.  The US Embassy offers notary services only on Tuesday afternoons, only with an appointment, and it costs $50 per document.  They are able to do an ink stamp along with the seal so that it shows up for the scan.  At first this seemed like a huge rip-off, because I am used to getting things notarized for free at my credit union in Utah, but when I compared the cost of using an escribana and apostille from here, it was going to take a couple weeks and cost a few hundred dollars, so then the US Embassy sounded like a bargain.  When you order copies of your certificates, be sure to state that it is for "Apostille" because it needs to be the long form of the certificate, not a short version.  Some states only want to send copies TO the person on the certificate, but that was okay for us because we were using Jeff's parents' address anyway.
- After my in-laws received our certificates, they put them in the mail to send them with Apostille Request forms for each state.  Each state does their own apostilles.  If I remember right, Arizona's cost $3 per apostille, Utah was $15 per apostille, and California was $20 per apostille.  You have to send the original birth certificates with the form and payment to the Secretary of State for the state where the document is from.  Then we had all of the documents with apostilles sent back to my in-laws and they put them in a UPS mailer and sent them to us.

2. Documents DO NOT need to go the the Uruguayan Consulate in the United States.  They used to need to be "legalized" in the US at the Uruguayan Consulate, but now that Uruguay accepts apostilles, documents DO NOT need to be legalized in the United States, and they DO NOT need to be legalized in Uruguay at the ministry of exterior relations (MREE).

3.  Have the documents translated into Spanish by an official public translator.  It has to be an official translator because they need to be able to stamp it with their special stamp.  I had a lot of trouble knowing how to find a public translator.  I have since heard that it is possible to get a list of public translators at the national identity office, but I don't know whether that is true or not.  I eventually found Nelida Kreer who is a public translator that lives in the Pocitos area.  She even has a website, which is kind of unusual for business people here.  I was very, very happy with her.  After I e-mailed her about translation, she replied quickly, and she was able to have my translations done within 24 hours after she received them.  She prefers to work from originals, but since I don't live near Pocitos, she was willing to work off of scans.  After I met with her to pick them up, I could understand why originals would be much better for her--the translations are VERY detailed, including descriptions of borders and colors of seals, impressions that are not visible on scans, etc.  She charged us $695 (in pesos, which is about $35 USD per document) for the translations, plus $120 pesos each for the official stamp (the official sticker is about $6 USD).  When I came to pick them up, I had to bring the originals, and we went through and she read and explained the whole thing to me.  It was important for them to be totally accurate, since you can have problems if something is translated incorrectly.  Her English was very good, which I guess you would expect from an official translator, but it made me feel very comfortable talking with her about it all.  I had my daughter with me for the whole thing--which ended up being kind of a lengthy meeting, since she had to make a few minor corrections since she had been working with scans and I didn't know to tell her about some things that mattered--and anyway, she was awesome about letting Paisley wander around and check stuff out, and play with marbles, etc.  She also showed me at the end, she just wanted me to know that she was giving me a good price, so she showed me the "official" price list was from 2012, and she was giving a lower price even though they were kind of long translations, etc.  Anyway, I believe her, and once I saw what I huge job it was, I feel like she more than earned what we paid.  I highly recommend her, and we will definitely have her do any other official translations that we need in the future.  She is fantastic. 

Copies nearby!  I paid 40 pesos ($2 USD), 3 big sets and a pen.
4. Make complete photocopies of each document.  So, we had the apostille on top, the certificate next, and a few pages of translation beneath.  All of it gets photocopied, double-sided, and stapled together.  I didn't know to do this ahead of time so I spent a little while searching around the Civil Registry for a place that did photocopies.  I found one.  It is just down the street a block from the Civil Registry, at Uruguay 891.

5. Take your whole packet to the Civil Registry, at calle Uruguay 933 in Montevideo.  They are open from 10:15 am to 3:30 pm, BUT the last time to take a number is 3:00 pm, and it really takes a bit longer than that anyway, so it is probably best to try to arrive by 2:45 pm at the latest.  No appointment necessary.  We arrived at about 3:00 pm but without photocopies, and when we came back with copies several minutes later a guard was standing in front and told me they close at 3:00 pm, and he wasn't going to let me back in.  I told him I thought they closed at 3:30, and he said no, 3:00 pm, and when he saw me standing there unsure what to do next he told me okay, I could go back in, but to hurry up.  I was grateful to him for that, because it saved us a drive back to Montevideo!

The desk for adding foreign certificates to the civil registry.
When you arrive at the Civil Registry, it is kind of hard to know where you're supposed to go.  Walk past the cash registers in front, walk past the staircases on your right side, all the way to the back of the building, where you can turn to the right.  If you turn to the right you will see a long desk, with a bunch of books and maybe film, and then to the right of that there is the desk where foreigners can add their certificates to the registry.  There is a thing for you to take a number on the right wall.  Take a number.

To the right are the numbers to take for a turn.
After they call your number, you hand them your stack of documents, and they will look them over to make sure you have official translations, and to make sure you have a set of photocopies.  Then they will give you a cover sheet (no photocopy of that necessary!) and tell you how to fill it out.  You put your name, local address, cedula number, and phone number at the top.  My phone had died and we recently changed numbers so I left the phone number blank, and she didn't like that, she wanted a phone number ("but, what if we need to reach you to ask you about something during processing???"), but I showed her that my phone was dead and volunteered my e-mail address, and she said to go ahead and put that.  I had just picked up our cedulas so I was able to put cedulas for me and Jeff, but Paisley doesn't have a cedula yet so I left hers blank there, and that didn't bother them. 

This is the cover page you fill out.
On the bottom of the form you write your first name, last name, the country the person was born in, and the date of the birth, and then you sign the form at the bottom.  I did the forms for all three of us, and Jeff didn't come.  I had called ahead to make sure they would be fine with him not coming, and they said that was okay.

So, once your form is filled out, you go to the cashier to pay.  The cost to be added to the registry is $513 pesos (about $25 USD).  When you pay the cashier she uses the cash register to print onto the apostille page (I think it was that page?), so they know you've paid.   

Then you take the whole stack back to the foreign section.  They accepted it, and asked me to take a seat.  Probably about 10 minutes later, the lady gave me my photocopied sets of documents back, with a little receipt type thing stapled to them.  She said we can come back in a month and they'll be added to the civil registry.

This is what you get in the end.
So, that's where we are at this point, waiting for a month.  After that, we will need to get copies of our birth certificates and marriage certificate (Uruguay versions) and take them to immigrations to be added to our file.  Or at least the marriage certificate; that is what they specifically requested, but I have read elsewhere that we needed the birth certificates to be in the registry, and I believe that when we go back to renew our cedulas having our birth certificates in the registry makes it so that we can have cedulas that don't have to be renewed as often (our current cedulas are only good for one year).

An interesting note about birth certificates is that I was kind of confused about one of the stipulations from immigrations, that they wanted a copy of the marriage certificate (the Uruguayan one, after it is in the registry) that was less than 30 days old.  I asked our Spanish teacher about that this morning and she said that here in Uruguay you don't get a permanent birth certificate.  They expire pretty quickly.  So the reason our marriage certificate needs to be less than 30 days old is because they don't want an expired copy.  How about that!



Saturday, February 01, 2014

All About Grocery Stores in Uruguay!

Grocery stores in Uruguay are pretty good.

If you don't have anything specific that you're looking for, they seem quite a bit like grocery stores in the United States.  The big stores are usually air conditioned.  Little stores might not be.

The produce section is pretty good.  They don't have as many items as our stores did in the US, but they do have a lot of stuff, and it is all fresh.  I rarely see fruits that are way too underripe or overripe.  Stuff tends to be seasonal.  So, sometimes there are no strawberries or blueberries.  There are a few items that are organic (like, some of the fresh herbs), but most items don't say.  I had heard before that a lot of stuff is organic and just not labeled but at a cooking class with other "foodies" they said no, most of it is not organic.  It is tough for farms to qualify as organic, so if they meet the requirements, they will usually label it.  They said though that a lot of the meat (beef, particularly) may be close to organic because cows are usually grass-fed.

When you buy produce at grocery stores in Uruguay, you put it in a bag yourself, and then take it to an attendant in the produce department who weighs the item and prints a price and barcode sticker to put on your bag.  If you get up to the front without the sticker they can't weigh it there, so someone has to go back to the produce department for the sticker.

There are a TON of meats and cheeses in the deli section.  Many of the cheeses are not refrigerated.  They seem to love ham here.  There are pre-packed (refrigerated!) sections for meat and cheese, but it is popular to use the deli services where they package stuff fresh for you.  Cheeses seem to be hit-and-miss for us.  Mostly, we just miss good cheddar.  They have some "American" type cheese but we can't really eat that.

Uruguayan grocery stores do not have a large selection of imported products.  Many (most?) products say INDUSTRIO URUGUAYO, or they are from Argentina.  There are a few exceptions, but not a ton.  Whatever you're buying, there are usually only a couple choices for brands.  For example, if you're buying Ziploc type bags in the United States, there are like four brands, plus a store brand, and each kind has a few varieties, and several package sizes.  Here, you usually have three choices: Uruguay gallon zip bags that are pretty thin and have a seal that is tough to close, gallon Ziploc brand bags in a package of 9 bags? I think?, or I usually buy a variety pack by Ziploc that has 3 sandwich bags, 3 quart bags, and 3 gallon bags all with zip tops.  If you want brown sugar, there is one brand (bella union) and it isn't very brown (I may post more about that another time).  If you want molasses, too bad.  Vanilla is made by two brands, and they taste the same, or you can buy one (hard?!) vanilla bean at a time in a spice jar, from the same brand.  

They do have Heinz ketchup, A1 steak sauce, Worcestershire sauce and a few other things like that.  Devoto and Tienda Inglesa carry more import products than some of the other little stores.  Imported products are expensive.  When I buy Toblerones they are usually $80 pesos for 100 gram or $130 for 200 gram packages--that's like $4 for the small one or $6 for the large one.  When Jeff buys Haagen Dazs the tiny individual serving is about $2.50 in US dollars, and the pint size of Haagen Dazs is about $10 US dollars.  Ground beef is usually available in three kinds; I get the best one and it is $180 pesos per kilo (about $9 US dollars per kilo).  I think the cheapest ground beef is usually about $120 or $130 per kilo (about $6 US dollars per kilo).  Blueberries in season were $34 pesos for the tiny containers and now they are usually $49 pesos ($1.50-2.50).  For peanut butter there is only one kind and it has hydrogenated oil so we don't buy it.  Fresh salmon ranges from moderately to very expensive; at Devoto we usually pay $399 pesos per kilo (about $20 per kilo) and sometimes it is a few dollars more.  They do sell Nutella.  They have m&ms some places, and Oreos.  There is usually only one brand of pretzels and it has ingredients that we don't like.

The things we miss the most are our special "short ingredient list" brands in the United States.  Hydrogenated oils are still a big thing here.  Sodium benzoate is popular as a preservative.  A lady we know here desperately misses Karo corn syrup.  There isn't corn syrup here.  You can see a lot of the products that they carry on the stores' websites.

Personal care products are fairly limited.  They have a decent selection, but the products are very similar.  We definitely have not been able to find organic shampoo, aluminum-free deodorant, or fluoride-free toothpaste.  That stuff isn't a thing here yet.

Milk comes in bags, and it is almost always ultra-pasteurized, or UHT long-life treated.  Jeff can't drink it and I choose not to, so we buy fresh milk from a local dairy.  Raw milk is technically illegal here.  At grocery stores we have been able to find good cream that is just pasteurized regularly and doesn't have additives.  Boxed juices usually have sugar added (why, why, why?) but there are some "fresh" brands that don't, and they are yummy.

They do have a "healthy living" type section in many stores.  Our Devoto has a few organic ingredients there (flour and sugar), but it is mostly a sugar free/gluten free/salt free section.  The products are mostly full of other additives that we avoid, so there is little that we like from that section.  They do have rice flour and a bunch of rice products and some gluten free mixes so if someone doesn't care about additives and is just avoiding gluten, there is some stuff for that.  There are a couple stores that carry organic stuff...one is Ecotiendas, in Montevideo centro, and another is called Mercado Verde (I think?) and it is near Arocena shopping.  They have another location in Punta del Este on the peninsula.

Some stores offer loyalty cards, but I don't think you need to use them to get the sale prices.  I think they are just for earning points towards reward prizes.  If you want a loyalty card, you go to the customer service desk, fill out a form with a lot of personal info, and then come back in about a week to pick it up.

As far as I am aware, there are two main competing grocery store chains in the Montevideo area: Tienda Inglesa, and Devoto/Disco/Geant.  I have also seen Tata and MultiAhorro, although I haven't really shopped at those.

Tienda Inglesas really vary in size--there is a huge one at Montevideo Shopping, which is relatively similar to a Walmart, with more food than other items, and another huge one across from Portones Shopping.  There is a regular "grocery store" size Tienda Inglesa in the Arocena shopping area, and a very very tiny Tienda Inglesa in Pocitos.  Tienda Inglesa has a customer loyalty card, and they frequently do big giveaways (often for cars) that you can earn entries into with your purchases; with your receipt they give you tickets to fill out and put in a box.  Tienda Inglesa does something kind of fun which is that (from what we have seen) they tend to have different around-the-world product themes.  So, during Italian Days (or whatever it is called) they have a broader assortment of Italian foods, and even a few little "souvenirs" from Italy.  They set up a special section of the store devoted to the theme, and sometimes some of the employees are dressed up to match the theme.  I saw them do this for Italy, Spain, and maybe Germany, but I don't remember well, and I haven't paid close attention, because I don't usually shop there.  One thing we do buy at Tienda Inglesa is soap.  They have a laundry soap that is a bar of soap that is just very plain coconut oil soap with no extra ingredients, and Jeff likes to use this.  

The Devoto/Disco/Geant chain is what we use most often.  When we were downtown in the Montevideo centro, we shopped at Disco and really liked it.  They kind of advertised having low prices, I think.  But the stuff there was fine.  Now, we mostly shop at Devoto.  Devoto is very very similar to grocery stores from the United States.  Geant is the biggest store in the area, the most similar to Walmart, in Parque Roosevelt (although I believe they just opened another one on Artigas in a new shopping center).  I should probably write more about Geant separately sometime.  Devoto/Disco/Geant also offers a HiperCard where you can earn points to buy prizes.  We do have one of those.  Unlike stores in the US, they ask you at the beginning of every transaction if you have your store card and if you don't give it to them at the beginning then you can't use it.  Of anywhere, Geant's prices are the best.  Devoto sometimes does giveaways (I remember one for a trip to New York), but they don't do them as often as Tienda Inglesa.

Our Devoto that we usually go to offers five separate shopping cart options:
1) regular shopping carts like in the US;
2) regular shopping carts like in the US, with a simple baby seat attached, for laying down infants (there are usually 2-3 of these per store);
3) large(-ish) plastic baskets that you can pull, and they have wheels;
4) another model of the large(-ish) plastic baskets that can be pulled OR they have a handle so you can carry them, they're a bit smaller than the others;
5) baskets just for carrying, like in the US.

Even when stores are busy, it is usually pretty quick to get through lines.  Stores usually have enough check-out lines open so that you don't have to wait for more than 1-2 people, and often you can just walk right up to check out.  There is often a line for people with 10 items or fewer, and many times there are signs saying that pregnant ladies get priority.  I have never seen a self-check out machine here.  When you pay, they often accept Uruguayan pesos or American dollars.  Sometimes if you want to pay with dollars the total has to be above a certain amount.  

They do give you plastic bags at the grocery store, and they are not the ultra-thin save-the-environment kind, they are good.  They don't charge extra for them.  But, they are also starting to encourage people to use reusable bags, and each store has their own reusable bags that you can buy up by the cash registers.  Some of them at our local store say "Yo no contamino."  ("I don't contaminate") large on the outside.

At Tienda Inglesa they don't offer money changing services but they told me they -kind of- do, because you can pay with dollars and they will accept them and give you change in Uruguayan pesos.  At our Devoto they have a cambio (money changing booth) up at the front of the store.  Stores often have little independent stores attached or in front across from where you check-out; our regular grocery store has that cambio, plus a small dry-cleaners, a locksmith/lock store, a 24 hour pharmacy with separate and shared entrances, and an Abitab (payment place) with a separate entrance but as part of the same building.  This type of layout is very common for grocery stores.  The Devoto itself also has a DVD rental place that is inside the store but I think it has its own check-out spot separate from the main check-out lines.

Most grocery stores have sufficient parking lots, especially when you're not in downtown Montevideo.  Some have underground parking, and some have large parking lots.  Our grocery store that we usually go to seldom has a parking problem, and most of the parking has little roofs to cover the cars.  During evening hours (when people get off work) it is a little more crowded.  Almost always, the parking lots have a worker or guard or two that stay in the parking lot all the time.  They often do friendly things, like help you carry groceries to your car if you're wrangling a squirmy toddler, or come up to you to take your cart so that you don't have to take it back.  They seem genuinely friendly.  At the Tienda Inglesa that is in the Arocena area, there is usually someone managing traffic in the parking lot, and helping people into and out of parking spots.  

Stores seem to be fairly worried about theft.  All of the normal-size grocery stores have self-service lockers (where it has a large number attached to a key) so that you can store any bags at the front, and they're kind of strict about it.  The Portones Devoto is attached to the mall, and if you walk into Devoto and forget to put other mall purchases in a locker, someone will come up and tell you you need to use a locker, and insist that you do so before you go into the store.  

There is also a procedure when you buy more expensive items, like electronics.  (It is the same experience that we had when we bought our GPS in Argentina.)  When I bought a printer at Geant, I pulled it off the shelf myself and took it up to the front with the rest of my stuff like I would have done at a Walmart in the United States.  No, they told me, I couldn't do that.  The process is this:
1. Talk to someone in the electronics department, and have them get you an order ticket with your name and info on it.
2. Take the printed order ticket to the customer service desk (like, the place you would go for returns in the US...I don't know whether they do returns here or not) and pay for it.
3. Take the PAID order ticket and receipt to a "pick up" type desk located at the exit of the store.  For Geant it is outside the store, but still in the shopping center.  
4. Someone at the desk reads your order ticket and looks at the items that are waiting to be picked up, to find your item.
5. They open the box, and pull everything out of the box, to make sure everything that is supposed to be included is included.  They put everything back in, and tape it shut.
6. Maybe they have you sign acknowledging that you picked it up, and they sign confirming that they checked it?  I think this happens on some paper, but I don't remember which.
7. You can take your stuff.
It is very disappointing!  I love the excitement of opening something new that I've just bought and pulling items out of the box to discover it all and enjoy it.  Watching someone else open your fun thing is no fun.  I feel kind of jealous, because I want the experience for myself, and a little irritated, because I don't want them touching my stuff, and because it seems like a waste of time.  It seems like it must be a fun job when new cool things come out...can you imagine being the one to get to handle all the new iPhones before anyone else gets to touch them?  Maybe it gets boring to them.

Anyhow, that is about all I can think of to tell you about our grocery stores here!  If you have questions, feel free to ask.  Sorry this is so long and without pictures.  I will try to add some pictures later, if I remember.  The stores are clean and usually relatively modern looking.