21 February 2009

Uruguay 2009, part 5: The Port's Market and the Breakwater

Disponible en español: El Mercado del Puerto y la Escollera

Second day in Montevideo. We had a plan to explore the coast and the atractions of the Old Town (the Ciudad Vieja), where we were staying. First we walked up to Rambla 25 de Agosto, where we were greeted by some imposing buildings but mostly containers and other not-so-touristic sights.

Mercado del Puerto 2 (by pablodf)
A typical bar in the Port's Market

Following that way we arrived in the Port's Market (Mercado del Puerto), an immense old storehouse full of little bars and restaurants, dark but not gloomy and pleasantly cool, with huge skylights to let the sun in.

It was fascinating, if a bit expensive (in Uruguay everything's expensive for Argentinians, even more so if it's about having a good meal of fish or shellfish, or an asado). We didn't stop there for long. The Market is surrounded by shops offering art and crafts, very picturesque yet more city-like (and in agreement to my taste) than in small-town Colonia.

Pescadores (by pablodf) We kept walking. Sunlight was pouring on us, but wind blew some of it away. We ventured onto the Escollera Sarandí, a breakwater that emerges like a massive spine or narwhal's horn from the end of the peninsula where the original Montevideo was founded, into the river-sea. There were some port employees and others there, most of them fishing, sitting or standing on the big blocks placed on both sides. We'd been told, for safety, to go to the Escollera at a reasonable time of day and to avoid displaying our nice cameras around too much, but I didn't have any reasons for alarm (our Uruguayan correspondent might not have known that we live in an insecure, big city, and that through bitter experience we've acquired a certain sense of danger and opportunity). Montevideo, I must say, isn't quite a wonderful view from the Escollera, especially at noon, as the skyline of the Old Town and beyond isn't very impressive (I'm not saying it has to be either).

We spotted some birds, some bugs scuttling among the ever-wet rocks, and a few muddy little crabs. The fishermen seemed to be carrying on with their task more for fun than anything else, judging by the scarce, diminutive catches I saw.

It was a stimulating stroll to start checking out Montevideo, but the heat was overwhelming, so we came back and shut ourselves inside the hostel. The afternoon and the evening awaited us with the promise of witnessing a religious ceremony outside all of our previous experience: the festivities for Iemanjá.

To be continued...

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