Sunday, 2 December 2012
BA, LA, KL, NY, all iconic binomial cities, even our translator in the Mongolian capital, a city of ‘gers’ and Soviet era apartment blocks was patriotically keen to use the title UB. But has anyone heard of BU? No it’s not a txt speak expletive, but an aggrandisement, a marketing ploy of a small municipal council in northern Uruguay. ‘Bella Union: Sugarcane Capital of the Nation’.
So in the interests of research we head into a local ‘taverna’, to see if they serve the local product. The ‘café con leche’ arrives with the inevitable glass of carbonated water and the mandatory stack of sugar satchets. They’re local. However, the real reason that were in a café is that we’re killing time. BU might be a one company town, with three duty-free emporia and a full hand of government offices, but it has one major saving grace: it has a boat crossing to Argentina. Only the ‘lancha’ is small and today the wind is up, a stiff breeze that’s fighting a strong current, setting up racks of standing, stationary waves. The first crossing is cancelled. Grounded in BU. Having to drink coffee. It’s the easiest way to buy some WiFi access. Only it’s clunk-click slow, which leaves too much time to stare at the wall mounted TV and the ubiquitous day time fare of talking heads supping the sponsors’ water and clutching the stereotypical yerba maté paraphernalia. Maybe we’ll get the graphics for a weather forecast. The strap line across the bottom is a depressing 13°C. The pictures are of flooded houses and rain pocked streets. The doors to the café clatter in their metal frames, the euc leaves rattle across the dug-up plaza. It doesn’t take a prophet to know that there won’t be any sailings today. The non-amphibious alternatives involve Brazilian frontiers and bridges that terminate on motorways, so it’s time to see what BU has to offer.
Two Centennial murals, a bloody dog fight and a lesson in patience.