A Travellerspoint blog

Uruguay

Christmas and New Years in Uruguay

A bit of sun, diving, book research and writing down in South America

This was my third trip to Uruguay in 2011, and this time I used the trip mostly as a writing retreat, working on manuscripts for my second and third installment of the Jonathan Brooks spy thriller series.

Here are some pics from Uruguay:

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I also went scuba diving in the murky waters off the main peninsula of Punta del Este. The visibility was horrible (less than two feet), and I lost my GoPro, too.

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Posted by AC Frieden 12:34 Archived in Uruguay Comments (0)

More Aerial Photography over Uruguay

Additional flight over Punta del Este, Uruguay for an upcoming aerial photography book

PUNTA DEL ESTE, Uruguay (Feb. 4, 2011) -- The coast of Uruguay is an ideal setting for aerial photographs. I took the opportunity to fly with a friend in a Schweizer helicopter over the resort town and surroundings. The aerial photography book will feature pictures from this flight as well as a broader flight from last year that included other towns north and south of Punta del Este. As a pilot, any time spent in a plane is awesome, and when pictures turn into publications, that's even more satisfying. This comes a few weeks after hearing news that a recent aerial photograph I took in New York will be featured on the cover of another book, "The Other Islands of New York City" (The Countryman Press; due out in June 2011).

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Posted by AC Frieden 17:50 Archived in Uruguay Comments (0)

Literary Research in Uruguay and Brazil


View Uruguay-Brazil 2009-2010 on AC Frieden's travel map.

PUNTA DEL DIABLO, Uruguay, and CHUI, Brazil (Jan. 3, 2010) -- details coming soon...

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CHUI, BRAZIL

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PUNTA DEL ESTE and LA BARRA, URUGUAY

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MONTEVIDEO, URUGUAY

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---- Travel Essentials Summary (and ratings) ----
Hotels: La Viuda del Diablo (8.5)
Restaurants: La Huella (in Jose Ignacio)(9); SushiClub (in La Barra)(7.5); Restaurant in the Serena Hotel (9)
Bars/Night Clubs: Bar in the La Posta del Congrejo (in La Barra)(8.5);

All photos and text Copyright © 2009-2010 A.C. Frieden. No reproduction permitted without prior written approval by A.C. Frieden. For reproduction rights and higher resolution images, send email to afrieden[at]avendiapublishing.com.

Posted by AC Frieden 18:55 Archived in Uruguay Comments (0)

Investigating Uruguayan Politics

Researching a key election campaign for my upcoming political thriller


View Uruguay 2009 on AC Frieden's travel map.

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (Feb. 10, 2009) – I traveled to Uruguay to continue researching political issues that have a connection to my upcoming novel set in Latin America. As in my prior trip to Uruguay in early 2008 and to other destinations in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Mexico, Panama and Venezuela since 2007, I've interviewed key politicians, officials and authors as well as investigated sites relating to my story. For this particular research trip, I spent some time in the capital, Montevideo, and in the trendy resort town of Punta del Este. And it's exciting to see it now, because in this tense election year, Uruguay may be on the verge of a significant political change (to the right). This may be a indication of things to come, especially on the sustainability of current leftist movements throughout Latin America.

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Above: The Palacio Legislative (Uruguay's parliamentary or capitol building).

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Above: The east side of the Palacio Legislative, facing the newer parliamentary annex building.

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Above: Inside the main atrium of the Palacio Legislative, with the ceremonial guard standing at attention in the center.

Uruguay has a mixed history of dictatorship and democracy, coupled with frequent overt and covert foreign intervention. This makes the country a good example of the paradox encountered in my novel, the manuscript of which is now more than half completed. So, during my visit, I met with Senator Francisco Gallinal of the National Party (aka, the Blancos) at the senator’s offices in the Palacio Legislativo (the parliament building) in Montevideo.

The building is beautiful, inside and out, but it needs some renovation. I was surprised to see that security was quite passive, with few guards and a metal detector that didn't pick up most of the metalic items I carried (cell phone, pens, change, camera, etc.) -- was it even plugged in? Anyway, it was a sharp, pleasant contrast to my visits to government offices in Washington, D.C., where security is thorough and annoying. Once inside, the similarities reappear. Hallways and offices this capitol building resembled so many others. I arrived at Senator Gallinal's office a bit late (the taxi driver took me to the parliament annex, even though I had told him the correct address). And there I was, with my notepad and about 20 questions for the Senator, who greeted me warmly in his office (which also needs some renovation and better lighting -- a result of budget cutbacks, I'm sure).

With his legal background, Senator Gallinal has been instrumental in recent legislative developments, particularly with reforms in health care, education and telecommunications. He has served in the Senate since his election in 2000 and has become a vital ally of Dr. Luis Lacalle, the National Party’s leading presidential candidate for the October 2009 elections. This makes him particularly knowledgeable in the structural/institutional development of the country, both from an economic and social aspect. However, his allegiance to the Blancos party and his constituence cannot be questioned. He sees the future of Uruguay very differently than many others I've spoken to in the country, particularly leftists.

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Above: Senator Francisco Gallinal standing next to me after our hour-long meeting.

I also interviewed Alfonso Lessa, chief editor of Teledoce (Channel 12), Uruguay's leading television station, where Mr. Lessa hosts a popular weekly current events program. Mr. Lessa’s career in journalism includes being an editor at the country’s top selling paper, El Pais. He has also authored several books, including the acclaimed Estado De Guerra, relating to Uruguay’s legacy of dictatorship and the country’s political developments since the restoration of democracy.

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The interview with Mr. Lessa focused a lot on politically important topics relating to Uruguay in particular, and South America in general. Of special interest to me were Lessa’s perspectives on reconciliation with Uruguay’s past dictatorship and the Tupamaro terrorist group, since the press is often a fragile pillar of democracy. It was very interesting to hear first hand the evolving roles of journalists during and after Uruguay’s dictatorship. Mr. Lessa also gave me a tour of the station and let me see the live midday newscast from the studio floor.

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During my stay in Punta del Este, I had the pleasure to interview Dr. Augusto Durán Martínez, a law professor and legal advisor (Prosecretaría de Presidencia) to former Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle (who is now running in the 2009 elections). Dr. Martinez has extensive experience in international law, human rights and constitutional law. We talked at length (mostly in French, which Dr. Martinez speaks very well) about Uruguay’s political problems and issues facing the continent as a whole, among them complex matters relating to MERCOSUR, the OAS and relations with Argentina and Venezuela.

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I also had an extensive discussion in Montevideo with Dr. Alphonse Max Emanueloff, one of Uruguay’s most experienced journalists and political observers. With his background as editor of the daily Ultimas Noticias and other publications, and with his insights into the turbulent years of the dictatorship, Dr. Emanueloff shared his candid views on the Uruguay’s historical left-right political struggles and the failures of the current governing leftist coalition, the Frente Amplio. He has authored numerous books on politics and international relations since receiving his doctorate in political science in the U.K., after which he moved to Uruguay and served as a foreign correspondent for various publications in South America, the U.S., Africa and Australia.

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more info and pictures will be uploaded soon.

----- Travel Essentials Summary (and ratings) -----
Hotels: Hotel Casapueblo (8.0)
Restaurants: Bungalow Suizo (8.0); SOHO (9.0); Napoleon (8.5)

All photos and text Copyright © 2009 A.C. Frieden. No reproduction permitted without prior written approval by A.C. Frieden. For reproduction rights and higher resolution images, send email to afrieden[at]avendiapublishing.com.

Posted by AC Frieden 13:25 Archived in Uruguay Comments (0)

Tales from the Uruguayan Coast

Literary research trip along Uruguay's coast, from Colonia to Punta del Diablo.

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View Argentina & Uruguay 2007-2008 (New Years) on AC Frieden's travel map.

PUNTA DEL ESTE, Uruguay (Jan. 6, 2008) -- So far it's been an unbelievably pleasant journey. After a couple days in Buenos Aires, I took the ferry to Colonia and then hopped on a bus to the Uruguayan capital, Montevideo, where I spend a couple days. After that, I drove to the "St. Tropez" of Latin America -- Punta del Este. It has all the glitz of its European counterpart, with luxurious villas, high-end stores, top restaurants and beautiful beaches, but it has a unique South American character. Indeed, it is a perfect vacation spot, which is why so many Argentineans, Brazilians, Chileans and Europeans come this way. So, it's at times difficult to remind myself that part of this trip is to scope out scenes for my book Where Spies Go To Die (perhaps I should rename it Where Gringos Go To Play).

Exploring the Capital

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(above) Walking around downtown Montevideo on a quiet afternoon on New Years Eve.

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(above) View of Puerto del Buceo and the yacht club from the condo I stayed in that first night in Montevideo.

Heading to Punta del Este

Punta del Este is definitely trendy. The nightlife too, with restaurants open till 4 a.m. and dance clubs till dawn, is abundant. With its modern infrastructure, cleanliness, order, safety, breathtaking residential architecture and expensive shops and cars, it offers a completely different picture of the continent than I had painted over my recent and past travels.

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(above) Horseback riding in Punta del Este.

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(above) Sunset over Punta del Este, viewed from the nearby chic town of La Barra.

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(above) Nearing sunset viewed from the Casapueblo hotel in Punta Ballena, a couple miles southwest of Punta del Este.

Heading North Along the Coast

But in many ways, the traditional Latin American features return once you leave Punta del Este. I headed north toward Rocha, past beautiful hilly terrain dotted with cattle farms. Further northeast, I visited the villages of La Paloma, Cabo Polonio and Punta del Diablo.

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(above) A stopping point just north of the coastal town of La Paloma.

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(above) The lighthouse in Cabo Polonio, a remote Bohemian coastal village that seems completely disconnected from the world. There are no cars, no Starbucks, no fastfood restaurants, no mass tourism, no highrises... A true paradise for those who want to escape. It also has no roads leading to it (though it is only about 7 km from the main highway). I reached it using a 4x4 truck service that crossed the dunes to get to the village. There is no electricity or running water for the few hundred residents of this town, and only a few of them have generators to power some of the posadas and groceries stores. The place is young, filled with many South American and European escapees, all of whom enjoy the seclusion and the Bohemian lifestyle. I must admit, it has its charm. The isolation and calm that you feel walking along the pristine beaches untouched by corporate developers pleasantly disconnects you from the world. It is featured in my novel as the hometown of one of the story's paid assassins.

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(above) A tranquil walk along the beach in Cabo Polonio.

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(above) The view from my window seat right after takeoff from Punta del Este's airport.

All photos and text Copyright © 2008 A.C. Frieden. No reproduction permitted without prior written approval by A.C. Frieden. For reproduction rights and higher resolution images, send email to afrieden[at]avendiapublishing.com.

Posted by AC Frieden 23:58 Archived in Uruguay Comments (0)

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