Published: September 4th 2007August 30th 2007
Memorial to canned corned beef
The Frey Bentos memorial at the gates to the old factory that made corned beef and oxo cubes
We wanted to get to Uruguay and the bus company gave us the information that the 1st 2 crossing on the way south would mean we would be dropped off on the side of the road at 5 am and 6 am so we decided to go with a bus company that would drop us at the terminal at Gualeguaychu. So we did another overnight bus trip, paid for a cama seat so we would have some comfort but our bus had seats in front that bent so far back it glued you into your seat so that you could not move your legs. So not much sleep was had, although we had a nice meal and a glass of wine.
The bus stopped alot to let people on and off and at 8am, guess what?, we were dropped off on the side of the road. We walked over to a cafe to have a think about things and Paul went inside to try and find out where we were. There was a taxi driver, who got very excited to think he had some passengers but he already had a passenger, so we were to wait for him and 20
minutes later he came back to take us to the boarder. We were told the bus terminal had closed down!! Not sure if it was true or not.
So we caught a taxi to the boarder, about 30 km away. We stopped at some sort of road block and had to walk to the other side. The taxi driver organised us a ride with someone on the other side of the block and we waited in his truck, for 2 hour. During the wait only 3 other cars went through the block. When a man got out of a taxi on the other side he came over and he was the driver of the truck we were in. He drove us over a very high bridge and into boarder control. It was very strange, it appears that Argentina and Ururguay share the same building. I hope they do because otherwise we are in Uruguay without leaving Argentina and we could have a bit of trouble. Paul said he saw our books stamped twice, but I cant find them.
We then drove off again and we were let off at a turnoff and told Fray Bentos was down there. After walking for ever, a good samaratin picked us up and drove us into town. We were told it was ten km from the boarder to the town centre!! So we were dropped off in the own centre and I walked around the Plaza trying to find the information centre. We found it and a money changing place and a place to stay.
Uruguay is a great country and not alot of tourists get out of the coastal area that is accessible by ferry from Buenos Aires. It is very civilized and modern but has had some hard times with foot and mouth disease and inflation at 40% when the Argentinians took all their money out of the banks. It looks like they are slowly getting back on their feet. They have had some military dictatorships as well. We have seen no sign of any Army.
31st August. We walked down to the Fray Bentos Freezing works, closed down about 25 years ago when the outbreak occurred. During the hight of its life, 5000 trucks of cattle a month came over from Argentina to be slaughtered at the works, 2000 cattle per day. (We saw no trucks while we were waiting at the boarder). They have turned the old factory into a museum, praising and glorifying the products produced there and also the people who worked there. They made alot of Oxo cubes, meat was exported to Europe and they also canned corned beef, tongues and made things out of every bit of the beast. They had a list of the countries that the workers came from and New Zealand was mentioned.
We walked down to a Parilla restaurant for tea and we had to wait until 8pm for the place to open so we went for a walk along the river bank. It is the place to go in the evenings with lots of people sitting talking and being seen. I had a count up of thermos flasks and people drinking mate. 1 person was not drinking to every 10, I think it must be addictive. It is so funny to see a group of young boys all hanging out, hoping a girl will walk by, drinking a cup of tea.
I have seen people drinking all over the place, bus drivers, people on buses, people on bikes and scooters, driving along drinking and holding their thermos under their arms.
Paul had the best steak since leaving Argentina 7 months ago and I can't remember what I had because I had a jug of house wine, the meal cost $630 Uruguay money, which is about $36 us.