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Friday, April 14, 2006

A Day Without Subte (or, Five Hours in Uruguay)

So here I am on a perfect blue sky day writing this instead of being outside or writing more important things (like the last few pages of the first typed draft of my China book, yeah). Why? Well, Natalia is out shopping for wedding dresses and I just ate a heap of meat for lunch and realizing I have not written anything here for awhile. It is Easter weekend, or Semana Santa as it is known here, and a lot of people have gone to the beach (like we were going to do, but aren't) or just enjoying not having to work. I guess maybe since I don't work all that much, it doesn't feel much different. The hope anyway, is that we will at least go to Tigre with some people for an overnight stay, but still waiting on that...

Back from digression. Tuesday, the people in charge of security for the Subte (or Subway) decided to block one of the tracks to protest that they do not receive same pay or benefits as the regular Subte workers. The other lines were all shut down in a show of unity. I found this out when I went to the Subte to go to school and had to pay 8 times as much to take a taxi instead (and I got to school late). The first real effects of the strike were noticable on Tuesday evening at rush hour, when lines for buses ran the for half a city block. The buses were packed and traffic was slow slow. It took 45 minutes to get from school to my gym, a trip that takes about 10 on Subte, and 20 on a normal bus day.

The real pain came yesterday morning, when I had to go to the port to take a boat to Colonia in Uruguay (my visa run). I thought it would be safe to leave around 8:30, as it would take no more than a half hour with a combo of buses and cabs, and probably just 15 minutes. However, as soon as I walked out of the door, I knew things were not right. Traffic was packed solid, five lanes across, headed into downtown, and we live 25 + blocks from the center. Horns were honking. Lines for buses were two or three times the normal length. I just missed my bus (while waiting to cross the street), and then next one did not even stop as people were already on the lowest step leading out the door, hanging on to an inside rail and riding half outside.

Next step, hail a taxi. The only problem, every taxi was full. Every single one. So I had to walk up to a smaller side street and hail one there, which took another 10 minutes. By the time I was on the road, it was already 8:45. Then, it took a half hour. Yes, a half hour to go what usually takes 5 minutes in a cab. We were going at about a block / 2 minute pace, which, if you do the math, would have got me at the port well after the 10 AM leaving time (as we still had 30 blocks to go). So, the taxi driver agrees my best bet is to walk. What follows is a two mile + power walk to the port, an exercise which leaves me sweating and tired, but at the ticket counter with 8 minutes to spare.

The boat left an hour late, though, as a lot of people must have been in the same boat.

The Subte is running again today, as there is less urgency for people traveling into work. Im curious to see what happens Monday, but it is now apparent how helpful (no matter how uncomfortable) the subway is.

Coming soon, pictures and a bit of words about my five hours in Uruguay.


Anonymous shawn grant said...

did I miss something? did you say natalia was buying a wedding dress? i must have missed that blog regarding an engagement. when is the wedding?

7:19 PM  

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