Things went better at Babieca this week, with more serving personnel and some dinners being pronounced as excellent. It remains a help to the restaurant if they know in advance how many of us will gather, so an RSVP by Saturday noon will be much appreciated, if you can manage it. Of course, you will be welcome if you only decide at the last minute to come, so don't let a lack of early response keep you from coming.
Items of potential general interest include
1. Several online videos, covering GMOs, a 12 year old topic, and one that has since been removed (gee, I wonder why....).
Mark Dice tries to give away a one-ounce gold coin in Oceanside, California. First woman thinks it has no value because it's Canadian….
2. A recommended novel on the ravages of hyperinflation by the author of "All Quiet on the Western Front", Erich Maria Remarque, entitled "The Black Obelisk". Set in the time of the great inflation in Germany, the central character is a salesman of gravestones, who is trying to sell a large black obelisk that absolutely no one needs. Written with great humor, it is well worth reading.
4. Super chocolate bars recommended by a chocolate lover: It is made by Cadbury BUT you must look for the MADE IN UK flag on the wrapper. It is sooo much better than the regular Cadbury bar.
5. Someone moving to Uruguay asked about cell phones and plans, and now knows more about the topic that he ever wanted to know. Since others might be interested, the info is below, and the flyer on plans isappended to this bulletin .
Sorry this is coming so late again, but please do let me know by tomorrow noon if you think you will be coming on Sunday--and I sure hope to see you then.
You can get to the Mercado del Puerto, and thus to Babieca, on any bus that goes through Ciudad Vieja, and get off at Maciel, the pedestrian street that is the last stop going West, before the bus turns to go back East. If you are driving, the easiest way to get there (given all the one way streets in Ciudad Vieja) is simply to head for the Rambla 25 de Agosto de 1825, and turn onto Maciel, which is right across from where the big port Exit sign is with 2 red circles alerting you to the fact that you cannot turn in there, and park right by the Mercado del Puerto. Of course, if you are coming from outside Montevideo, just drive around the city on the Rambla all the way to where you head back east, and then shortly thereafter, then turn right on Maciel.
Some Point on Cell Phones & Communication
Yes, do get a Smartphone in the USA - they are horrendously expensive here.
If you can do with a non-Smartphone, some of the plans here include a "free" phone if you sign up for, for example, 1 year--you get to choose between 2 or 3 models, but if you sign a contract for 2 years, you can choose between maybe 15 models.
You need to get a FACTORY UNLOCKED phone. There a many iPhones on offer with a software unlock, but the unlocking can be lost when you turn the phone off, and you can only restart the unlocking by calling 911, which is, in fact, illegal, because you are not calling emergency for an emergency. The software unlocked phones seem to be a major pain. So Factory Unlocked, and you have to be sure of the person you are buying from, since they may try to sell you a software unlocked as a factory unlocked.
Since I know nothing about Android phones, I will restrict my comments to iPhones (which I have). The Apple iPhone has a SIM card. The iPhones up to and including the 3gs has a regular size SIM card. The iPhone 4 and later have "mini-SIM cards". The providers here all have regular sized SIM cards. Thus, if you have an older iPhone, you just get the SIM card here, pop it in the phone, and you are good to go. If you get a later iPhone, you have to cut the SIM card down to fit in the iPhone. There are kits you can buy online that are said to cut the card accurately down to the mini-SIM card size, and some geeks say they just use scissors, but coward that I am, I just bought a 3gs model, factory unlocked, and went the easy route.
Also, the older factory unlocked iPhones are much cheaper than the newer models, so you don't have SIRI, but I don't know if that works here anyway, and I can live without talking to my phone.
Uruguay also doesn't have the newer faster networks--we are still at 3G, so if you buy a newer one with all the bells and whistles, it doesn't do you much good here. The only thing that might give you pause is that some of the Apps require the 4g or 4gs iPhone model (American Airlines, for example, but you can get alerts about landing and such sent individually to your phone--you just can't consult the schedule on a regular basis.) I have not suffered because of unavailable Apps for my iPhone.
Please also keep in mind that, while there is little violent crime here, there is snatching and pick-pocketing (yesterday, a man told me someone had tried to pick his pocket while his own hand was in said pocket. A scuffle ensued, but he kept his wallet.) So the cheaper factory unlocked iPhone, if snatched, is a less painful loss.
So my recommendation: Get factory unlocked 3gs iPhones (about US $ 200 in the USA), and they will work fine with the local SIM cards of all providers, and you can get SIM cards for them when you go back to the USA (AT&T Go-Phone) or Europe or anywhere else. There is also a US $ 10 a year App for the iPhone from MagicJack with which you can call any land line or mobile phone number in the USA and Canada for free, and with which you can call anywhere else in the world for pennies a minute ($ .02 per minute to Germany, $ .03 to Argentina, for example). If you also have a MagicJack Plus for free calls to the USA and Canada (that works independently of your computer, and you just need an extra cordless phone to plug in to it, which you plug into your modem and it works as a regular land line, although it is VoiP (Voice over Internet Protocol)), you can have the same or a different number for your iPhone App.
Yes, Uruguay has pay as you go and prepaid plans as well as 6 months, 1 year and 2 year contract plans. Whether you get Antel, Moviestar, or Claro depends on the deals on offer when you choose, as well as who you want to talk to for free, because all the plans offer, depending on how long a contract you choose, 1, 2, or more people you can call for free on that network, and 1, 2, or more people you can text for free, whereby the free call number(s) and the free text number(s) need not be the same. So you either want to get SIM cards (and plans) from the provider the people you call most have, so you can get free calls and texts, or you get, say, and Antel phone and can call Brian for free, and Susan gets a Claro phone, and then she can call me for free.
Attached is a page that gives you the plan options for Claro, just as an example. The broschure is a couple of months old, and I know they had several promotions recently with, for example, free calls to everyone on the Claro network, but it should give you an idea of what some of the options are (presuming you can read it).
The big gotcha is that you have to register your phone when you land at the airport, or you will not be able to buy minutes for it. When you come through the arrival area, and then the baggage scan, the way out leads you to the right, and on that wall is a window and a door to a side room. That is the place to show them your phone(s) and they will write down the serial numbers.
So, and now, as the little boy answered when asked how he like the book about giraffes he got for Christmas, "I now know more about giraffes than I ever wanted to know.".... :-)