Uruguay: Bills, Bidets, and Boundaries

Written by   (author of Obvious Conclusions)

Random Observations:  Bills, Bidets, Boundaries, Bicycles

There are 3 main cell phone companies:  Ancel, MovieStar, and CTIMovil.
Nobody here makes a phone call.  If you receive one, it’s important, or the person is rich and lazy. 

It’s really expensive to make a phone call.  Everyone texts everything-it’s kind of hastle.  A text is 1 peso (about a penny).   Nobody is on a monthly plan.  It’s not uncommon for someone to say “oh, my phone is out of money.”  You refill your phone through phone cards.   Many people buy these at these stores called Abitab.  I could not figure out what these stores really did at first.  I thought they were just places that sold lottery tickets.  I have since learrned that many things here are quite…Antiquated…

Do you remember in the old days when you paid your telephone bill, your heating bill, etc. through the mail?  You write a check, put in an envelope, afix a stamp to it, and send it off.  And now, most of you probably use the Internet.

Well, in Uruguay, the old days are the future.  They certainly don’t pay bills over the Internet and most people have not reached the whole put the check in the mail notion either.  Everybody goes to these stores called Abitab to pay their bills.  Yes, they walk over (‘cause not many people have cars), usually with cash, and pay their bills in person.

Most homes don’t have central heat.  They use these little portable heaters and bring them wherever they are in the house.  In the states, we have the Ice Cream Man.  Here, they have the Propane Man.  He drives down the street, honks his horn, and people go out to refill their portable heaters. 

Speaking of heat, take all the long showers and baths you can before you get here because most homes have a very small heating tank.  In my current home, which is nice, hot water lasts maybe 3 or 4 minutes tops.  I have mastered a technique of shampooing and washing in about 30 seconds and then just sitting under the elusive hot water for the next 2 ½ minutes.  The shower exit time is critical.  You must get out just before the hot water stops.  Who wants their shower to end with cold water? 

But, really, who needs a shower when you have bidet.  Clean the privates and get on with your day!  If you don’t know what a bidet is, then you should travel more, study french, or follow the link I created above.  The French love them because they provide a good justification for not showering  J  .  Oh, whatever, I have plenty of French friends and we laugh about this all the time.  If you’re too politically correct, look elsewhere!

Bidets are everywhere here and in every bathroom.  And for the first time, I did try it.  First, I tried without sitting on it just to see where the water comes out.   Mistake!  Water shot all over the bathroom.  If water with that force entered me, I think it might exit through my mouth.  I’ll need to be careful with this one I thought as I cleaned up all the water that now soaked the whole bathroom. 

It’s a sensitive topic to talk to people about…which makes me enjoy the conversation all the more.  “Pardon me, do use a bidet?”     “Oh, yes, of course, they’re great.”  “Ah, interesting,  and what do you like about it?”

Really, it’s all about a dirty bum and so, without fail, the conversation always leads to interesting destinations.  However, one destination was rather unsettling.  One of my conversations led to procedural techniques, which are not easy by the way.  Bidets have two sources of water, two spouts.  I really have yet to figure out what both are for.  One, as I’ve discovered, shoots water straight up your bum.  Anyway, in this procedural conversation, I asked what transpired immediately afterward.  Because, you can’t really exit the bathroom with a dripping wet bum.  (I’m using the word bum instead of ass because ass is crass…and my parents may read this J)  Anyway, they said, “well, no you don’t walk out with a wet bum.  You use the bidet towel.”

The bidet towel?  The bidet towel?  Excuse me?  I think this is the towel that I thought was the general bathroom towel…the one that I use to wash my face.  Well, apparently, I now have a closer relationship with my housemates than I would have guessed.

And beds?  Single beds are still very common here.  Maybe that’s true in the states too…but nobody I know still has a single bed.  Everyone has queen, king, or a California king, which I had because I lived in Califonria.  You could fit like 6 people in my bed at home.  Here, you can barely fit me.  And I move a lot when I sleep.  In my California king, I had plenty of room to move.  Here, I think I just spin around all night because if I actually move, I’ll fall off the bed.  I’m sitting in this very bed right now on the Internet…

Which seems strange…

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Richard Cummings

Richard Cummings is writer, traveler, and web content developer.

Get your copy of his latest book entitled Obvious Conclusions, stories of a Midwestern emigrant influenced and corrupted by many years living in San Francisco and abroad. It just received its first outstanding review "...reminiscent of David Sedaris or Augusten Burroughs" on Amazon UK.
Richard Cummings
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Richard CummingsUruguay: Bills, Bidets, and Boundaries

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