Fried Churros + Dulce De Leche + Sugar = Mmm
The long awaited trip recap begins, as all international trips do, in an airport.
When I booked my flight to Montevideo, Uruguay, a mere month before departing, I had few worries. Sure, I had to make two connections, one in Miami and one in Panama City, and only an hour or two between each leg, but what could possibly go wrong on Christmas Eve? If problematic travel on Christmas Eve was a common thing, then you'd expect there to be tons of films about the experience.
At the Newark airport, I watched my 8:00 flight to Miami slowly turn into a 1:00 flight. At 12:30, finally knowing there was no way I'd make my connection, I went over to the Continental Airlines Customer Service center in the airport. The line in front resembled one of those Russian bread lines.
In the spirit of Christmas, the people ahead of me in line made way to let me in front, being that my flight to Miami left soon and I had no idea whether or not I should be on it.
"I need to get down to Montevideo," I tell the customer service woman. "I'm meeting my friend down there."
"I'll see what we can do," she said.
I expected the classic brush off. She'd type a few things, then look up at me and with a smile so forced you just want to slap it, say "I'm sorry, there's nothing we can do."
Maybe it was the look of desperation on my face. Maybe it was the aura of the impending Obama administration. Maybe it was the Christmas spirit. But instead of acting like every other customer service person has ever acted towards me, the woman picked up two phones at the same time, typed on two computers, called DIFFERENT airlines and after about 15 minutes, was able to book me on the last available direct flight from Miami to Montevideo. A flight that would arrive only five hours past when I initially was supposed to arrive.
Angel at the airport? I believe so.
I emailed Jay from my iPhone while spending my 8 hour layover at the Miami airport, letting him know my new time of arrival. I had no idea if he would receive the message. But sure enough, as I pulled up in front of our hotel, Jay was at the door, and he had something with him.
"Have you ever had a Alfahor?" he asked.
"An Alpha Whore?"
He handed me a foil package containing a round chocolate hockey puck. With some hesitation, I opened it up and took a bite.
There's nothing like it in the states. Picture a Ring Ding (those Drake's cakes that are soooo good). Instead of merely a cream filling, there's some kind of cookie or wafer, sandwiched between layers of chocolate fudge and dulce de leche, a creamy kind of caramel. The level of deliciousness beats any sort of cookie or dessert cake you can buy at your local bodega.
They're everywhere in Uruguay and Argentina. Which prompted me to ask the question... Why haven't I heard of these delectable delights before?
Even a google image search only came up with this photo, and most don't have nuts:
After my tasty introduction to Uruguayan cuisine, Jay and I hit the town. We walked along the Rio Plata that separates Uruguay from Argentina. The water was muddy brown, either from the sediment in the riverbed or the pollution. We got some delicious pollo and carne empanadas at the only open cafe in town (it was Christmas day, after all) and then took a cab to a beach called Pocitos, where the city faces the South Atlantic.
Travelers Tip: Cabs in Uruguay have meters, but they tally distance, not money. At the end, the driver pulls out a chart, and you pay the money that's listed next to the distance. Why do they do it in this bizarre way? To confuse Americans, of courseI took many pictures, but they were all erased due to the awkwardly close positioning of the "Delete All" and "Delete One" options on my camera. Screw you, Sony.
That kid in the background tried to sell me something called "marijuana" in Spanish.
Jay and I laid out on the beach while a group of Uruguayan kids brazenly smoked something that was not cigarettes. There were some Uruguayan hotties next to us, too. One girl on the beach was riding her boyfriend's lap like it was one of those 50cent mechanical amusements outside the supermarket. The perfect way to spend Christmas.
Pictures? Nope. Erased.
We were walking back toward our hotel along the La Rambla, the Montevideo boardwalk, when some girl called out to Jay and waved. Turned out she was a girl from Switzerland who had been part of a group that Jay went with to an Argentinian soccer game earlier in his travels. We chilled for a while in a rocky alcove off La Rambla which featured a giant broken stone wall. And then there were these rail tracks implanted into the ground. Seeing a used condom lying on one of the rocks, Jay and I figured it was a park like the one we'd seen in Peru, where locals go to take their chicas for romantic sexo de publico.
Then we saw the plaque:
Yes, it was Montevideo's Holocaust Memorial. Nothing says romance like... well... here's to the rebirth of life, I guess.
The sun began to descend in the sky as we made our way back. We stopped to buy some churros from a rather picturesque stand on La Rambla. If the fried dough snacks aren't already fattening enough, in Uruguay, they INJECT them with dulce de leche, and then top them off with some sprinkled sugar. Delicious.
We stopped to watch the sun sink into the Rio Plata before making it back to the hotel. Day 1 ended with a oversauced Uruguayan version of french bread pizza and an ultimately failed attempt to enjoy an "enhanced" view of the city skyline from our hotel's rooftop.
Tomorrow, we'd have to get up early for the day's journey to Buenos Aires, where we planned on catching our afternoon flight to Bariloche, an Argentinian mountain town. First, a bus to Colonia, Uruguay, about an hour away, and then a two hour boat ride to the city and a cab to the airport. After the day of traveling I'd had, I was looking forward to a day where all our meticulously planned travel connections would go smoothly.
Little did I know...