One Month Anniversary

Posted on November 4, 2008


On Monday we celebrated our one month Anniversary in Montevideo. Four weeks down, seven to go. Time is moving very fast now. It has been a good four weeks and I am enthusiastic about what the next seven will bring. Some of the highlights from the last four weeks:

– Making so many new friends. I know I have said it a number of times, but Uruguayans are so incredibly friendly. It is hard not to love this country.
– Feeling like I am making a big impact. The company I am working with is responding well to my suggestions and every week here is going better than the last. I can see my ideas and suggestions taking shape already. People who expressed a lot of frustration four weeks ago now see me as an ally and see a better way.
– Enjoying daily beautiful sunrises from my bed.
– The madness of the beautiful, dirty and mean Buenos Aires, more to follow.
– Fresh pasta every night. Raviolis, gnocchis, spaghetti, penne.
– Partying until 5am at THE CLUB with all the kids enjoying Budweiser.
– Deep and not so deep conversations with Lisa and Twinkle, the other two Montevideo Fellows. I am lucky to be here with such good people. They are genuine and are always there to celebrate successes and give advice on dealing with the difficulties.
– Google Talk, telephone home that works well for a free service.
– A patient wife who has let me wander on my adventures even though she is stuck with an empty house, dealing with roofing problems, trying to remember to pay the mortgage on time, and no one to fight for the TV remote with.

I started my anniversary day with a short tour of Montevideo with Edgardo. Edgardo is my regular manana taxi conductor. He picks me up promptly every morning at 8am and we fight through the traffic for twenty minutes until we reach the front gate at Clausen. For the first couple days in Montevideo, I had a different driver each day. Then one day Eduardo picked me up and I knew he was a keeper based on four factors – he had seatbelts that worked, he didn’t drive like he was determined to kill me, he was very friendly and started teaching me words right away, and he allowed me to sit in the front of the cab. In Montevideo it is highly unusual to sit in the front, due to the crime and violent robberies against cab drivers. Usually you are wedged in the back behind a panel of bulletproof glass that doesn’t really fit into the small, subcompact cars.

Edgardo varies the route we follow so that I can learn my way around the city and so he can point out some of the sights. Edgardo speaks about as much English as I speak Spanish, so we have conversations in my broken Spanish. Often, he will point to something and tell me the word in Spanish and I reciprocate by teaching him the word in English. It is amazing the conversations that you can have even with only a few words. Edgardo works every day from 7am to 4pm. He drives about 200 km per shift. He has three sons, the oldest is 15. He also has three dogs, two are German Shepherds. He prefers herbal tea, though he can be convinced to drink rose wine also.

Approaching the Uruguayan National Congress Building
Uruguayan National Congress Building
The University of Uruguay School of Chemistry

The University of Uruguay School of Medicine – highly regarded in South America

I had a good day at work, with my day focused on helping the company to improve their meetings. I gave a training in running more efficient meetings that was very well received. So well received that it is now being translated into Spanish and the HR Manager is going to repeat it for all of the Managers in the company on Thursday. Then I took them through the exercise of evaluating the current meetings they have in place. It was eye opening for them and led to some great conversations. I expect that even as quickly as this week there will be big changes in the number and quality of their meetings. People seemed really excited by the new ways of look at what had once been the hated exercise of meetings.

I closed out the day with a nice meal with mi Amigos at El Veijo Y Del Mar, a favorite restaurant of ours right on the shore. They have good seafood and rice dishes. The wait staff knows us now and even sent us Medio Y Medio on the house to celebrate our anniversary. Medio Y Medio (translated half and half) is one part champagne and one part sweet white wine. That with a dulce de leche flan sent me fat and happy to bed.

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