December 8 Monday. (I am keeping much better track of the days here on paper looking back than I ever did on the ship. I was usually clueless about what day it was.)
We were allowed to leave the ship in Montevideo, Uruguay about 10 a.m. We hadn’t seen any ship tours that looked interesting so we decided to just go into town. One of the leather shops had shuttle buses at the dock to take people to their shop so we hopped on one and spent a few minutes browsing through their leather goods when we got to town. We spent a pleasant morning walking down the streets and browsing through their open market in the town square. One of the popular items being sold was a container and special spoon for a drink called “mate” (mah-tay), a local tea. The tradition was to fix the tea then pass the mug around for everyone to share. We didn’t try it but we bought a few of the spoon-straws which were shaped like hollow paddles with holes in the top of the bowl for straining out the leaves.
Gaucho dancers were performing in the town square so we found a bench and watched for a while then wandered down the street a ways. Montevideo (population 1.3 million ) reminded me a bit of Provo, not a very metropolitan big city. We found the McDonald’s across from the town square and got a hamburger and drink. (For those of you who think we wimped out by going to McDonalds, you must remember how hard it is to find a bathroom–bano-- in a foreign country, especially a bathroom you can trust.) We walked back to the ship. (We do a lot of walking on our trips and even with all the food we eat, I always end up losing weight. Of course, I gain it all back when I get back home.)
December 10 Tuesday At Sea
The ship has many activities to keep the passengers entertained at sea. We had three formal nights on this trip because of all the days at sea. Greg and I usually play at least one game of trivia each sea day. I also took a Spanish class (which I dropped after the first day) and a Portuguese class, which I attended all five days. That gave me the skills of a high schooler who has taken one week of Portuguese. Quite enough to get around Brazil on our own when we got there.....NOT REALLY!!
Portuguese looks a lot like Spanish. If you can read Spanish you can figure out a lot of Portuguese words (I know some French and can figure out some of the words.) But my phrase book describes Portuguese as Spanish spoken by a drunk Frenchman and I believe it. It sounds totally different than Spanish.
The entertainment on board is top rate. Our first big production show was an excellent tango show. Two professional tango dancers were brought on board from Argentina. They were totally amazing.
Most of the passengers were Spanish-speaking South Americans and Brazilians. They really knew how to have a good time on board. Mamba and other Spanish and Brazilian music was playing into the wee hours of the morning and people danced and danced. And we stayed up and watched them.