Catch up time

Mystic of Holyhead (successor to Lynn Rival)
Rachel and Paul Chandler
Wed 25 Feb 2015 20:39
Winter in the UK didn't agree with us at all.  Apart from a few days over Christmas one of us was suffering from a cold almost all the time.  We returned to Uruguay in need of a rest and did little but recover and acclimatise for the first week.

Here in Puerto Sauce little changes.  February is high summer so there have been a few more people out and about, especially at weekends and at sunset.  Some afternoons the port is busy with children sailing Optimist dinghies, supervised by members of the yacht club, and often a few kayaks are paddled around.  Local sailing boats - from large dinghies to small cruisers - go out for a trip around the bay at the end of the day.  Townspeople drive down to the riverfront and park under the willow trees, then sit in their deck chairs, drink mate and watch the sun go down, enjoying the evening cool.  Various Argentine yachts come and go at the quay but very few of the long-stay cruisers on moorings have owners aboard.

Closely supervised Oppies take advantage of the late afternoon breeze

The lifeboat returns from an evening outing (not a 'shout' as far as we know)

We have been busy getting ourselves and the boat ready to go sailing again.  Some of the navigation equipment needed replacement parts installed.  Bits of plumbing and wiring needed attention.  As everyone knows, attempts to rationalise computer systems and sorting out software upgrades absorbs days rather than hours.

By way of a break from all this we drove to Montevideo for a couple of nights.  It's an easy journey, not much over 2 hours away, and the roads are never busy.  We had arranged to get our liferaft serviced while there.  We also wanted to see some of the carnaval shows which Montevideo is famous for.  We had missed the street parades but throughout the carnaval season - 80 days long and the longest in the world - there are nightly shows at different venues around the city.  Also, despite being high season, getting a reasonably priced hotel in the city centre wasn't difficult.

On the first night we went to the summer (open-air) theatre which is on the sea-front.  Tickets are easily available and it's just a short taxi ride from the centre.  The shows start about 9.30pm and continue into the early hours.  The atmosphere is very informal.  The seats are numbered but you sit on concrete benches and we wished we'd brought cushions!  Stalls selling food and drinks (for the few who don't have their mate gear with them) line the entrance.  Sellers of snacks walk around the auditorium in the breaks with baskets of pastries and other goodies (though no one hiring out cushions).  Each act is about 45 minutes long and packed with activity.  Some are traditional carnival dancing, drumming and singing in exotic costumes but the ones we really liked are called "Murgas".

'Mi Morena' - not a murga, but a lubolo, started the evening, followed by a murga . . .

. . . 'Falta y Resto'.  (Murgas have 13 singers, 3 musicians and a hyperactive musical director)

A Murga is performed by a group of men (very occasionally including a woman), dressed in often very silly costumes, singing and dancing in harmony, accompanied by a few percussion instruments.  From time to time they perform little sketches, taking the piss out of policiticians, celebrities and life in general.  Of course we didn't understand much of it but the singing was really beautiful and the audience were having such a good time we were carried along with it too.

On our second night we went to the Velodrome, where we were promised a less formal atmosphere (hard to imagine).  Here you buy tickets at the door and we got there early to get front seats.  This time we saw 3 Murgas, each very different and all very entertaining.  Our neighbour spoke English so explained to us some of the things everyone was laughing at: jokes about footballers, politicians, conductor-less buses (now being introduced here), mobile phone use, etc.

The musical director of 'Alicia' is missing his prop . . .

. . . there it is (all the MDs seem to use a guitar as a prop)

Costume changes were made on the run, so there was no let up in pace for 45 minutes

Another murga - 'La Gran Muneca'

As we left the velodrome there were still two acts to come

Having delivered the liferaft to the service centre and watched it being opened up, we left it for a day to be checked and re-packed.  Our communications with the men there were somewhat limited as only one spoke English.  However, when we returned, it turned out that Sebastien, who doesn't speak English, recognised us and they had looked up our story on the internet.  They even printed off a photo of Lynn Rival for us to sign!

The crew of LCL Shipchandlers - Claro, Sebastian, Jorge and Alex (+ 2 ordinary chandlers)