From La Viruta to Montevideo

Sallycat I’m in Uruguay. And I’m eating sugary, made in the moment churros (long, thin, yummy donuts covered in sugar) by the Montevideo ocean. Well, not quite the ocean. The water looks vast from here, but it’s really still the Rio de la Plata. At least, it is according to the fishermen casting off from the rocks beneath La Rambla, the wide promenade that hugs the rio’s edge in front of our hotel. And these boys should know about the water, right? The fact that it’s muddy when it shouldn’t be. The fact that the fish aren’t biting like they should be. The fishermen chat with us and share the thought that Mother Earth seems to have new plans of late. I can’t help agreeing with them. Those rivers in Buenos Aires a couple of weeks back were nothing compared to what she was just about to do on the other side of the South American continent, were they?

I didn’t feel tremors in Buenos Aires at the moment of the earthquake (though in the highest buildings some did, I understand), but I did feel a bit unsettled at what is going on with our planet and as the aftershocks continue, I still do. I also feel very very sad for the people in Chile.

I remember when I was about eight years old, I’d lie awake and worry about what would happen if I got separated from my Mum and Dad in the event of a nuclear attack; I pictured myself shutting all the windows then hiding under the dining room table. Maybe if I was a kid right now, I’d be having nightmares about the end of the world. Instead, I’m forty seven and doing my best not to go there; my own time-up is certain to come, whichever way, and I suppose I think that until it does, I must concentrate on living.

We already had our tickets for the overnight Buquebus on Sunday 28th February, so we tried to get our body clocks ready to stay up all night with a medialunas breakfast at La Viruta. I haven’t been there for a while, but needed to pass by and check my facts one last time before sending the finished Happy Tango manuscript to the book designers, so we set our alarm for 4am and managed to crawl out of bed and taxi it down there. We were too late for the breakfast (already sold out) but the dance floor was calm-ish by then and the surround-sound-effect acoustics were all-encompassing; the minute I got into C.’s arms and closed my eyes… well, the world outside, good or sad, was gone.

Some do not like La Viruta: more of  a ‘pick-up joint’ than a milonga; long tandas (on weekends) of six – an endurance test (if you find yourself with a partner who can’t dance); the blackout, for the penultimate tango, that leaves the wary (of being snogged by a stranger?) scuttling from the dance floor. I know, I know… there are downsides. Yet I, safely accompanied by my love, can’t help adoring something about the place, even in all its scruffiness. And C., though he complains the crowd is getting younger and younger (and it is), still smiles at the fact that it seems to be the only milonga (or baile as La Viruta calls it on its paper programme) in town that plays one of his favourite tangos, La Bruja. On Sunday in any case, we left all gripes at home and surrendered to the happy memories that the place holds for us. We stayed to kiss in the dark ourselves, watched the younger generation hit the floor for the brightly lit rock n roll, cumbia and salsa at 6am, and I stumbled out into calle Armenia and daylight saying, Oh I am sooooo happy I did that.

It’s good to reconnect with your passions (for tango or for whatever). Mine had got lost somewhere in the cross checks, fact checks, spell checks, proofreadings, publishing company start-ups, ISBN applications, permissions emails…  not to mention the fears that I’ve left something out, put too much in, pissed someone off, done it wrong, not done a good enough job… ah, the overwhelming, spiralling out of control VOD, letting rip on the subject of my first book.

In the face of all that nonsense, what was the effect of one night dancing in La Viruta till dawn with the man I love? Hellooo beautiful Barbie! Our taxi sped away down Cordoba towards home and she whispered to me,

Just one more week of fact checks, dear Sallycat, and then let’s set this bloody brilliant book on its way to do its job helping people from all over the world to find their own Happy Tango in Buenos Aires!

And I replied,

Yes Barbie, let’s. But first, how about we go to Montevideo to fix our need of a valid visa, hire bicycles to explore an unfamiliar city, and eat churros in the sun. When we’ve relaxed a bit, we can read the manuscript one last time with fresh eyes and plan our final weekend of milonga trekking and reccy-ing: Villa Malcolm, La Glorieta, Milonga10… how does that sound? We’d better hope Carlos is on for it all though? Shall we ask him?

We did. And he was.

So, that’s what we’re up to this week. Me, C., and the little voices in my head. We’re in Montevideo. Keeping one beady eye on the next milestone along the bumpy road to the publication of our book. Recovering our balance. And life adventuring, as usual.

And here are the pics to prove it.

Tags: , ,


  1. Debbi’s avatar

    lovely lovely lovely!!! I think if I had ever had an experience like that ar La Viruta I might not have hated the place so much!
    Happy trails beautiful!!!

  2. jamesy’s avatar

    Hi Sal
    Not a bad way to renew a visa, better than queing in some stuffy old office and with Churros on top. Last time had some of those I was halfway up a mountain in Andorra Skiing. Amazing how things encircle the Globe, bit like Tango really.
    I am glad that we may see the book soon, and I am sure once you have sent it on its way it will open up another chapter in your journey.
    Luv JB

  3. ChristineH’s avatar

    Love the pictures, reminded me of the lovely few days I spent in Uruguay on my last visit. I stayed with a lovely couple that I found on the CouchSurfing site. We went to a couple of Milongas (very quiet) and then to the beach. I seem to remember than you need pretty strong insect repellent!!

    I hope that your little break enabled you to recharge your batteries ready for the ‘final push’.

    Really looking forward to warmth and sunshine when we arrive in a couple of weeks time.


  4. tangobob’s avatar

    Ha, glad someone likes La Viruta. Seriously enjoy your break and don’t ponder too much on your mortality. You’ve got a few years to catch up on me yet.
    Besos Bob
    .-= tangobob´s last blog ..Tango Tyrant? =-.

  5. Still Life in Southeast Asia’s avatar

    Like Jamesy said, there are worse places to renew a visa. Montevideo has so many charms. I can almost see myself living there more than Buenos Aires. Lovely place!

    Keep us updated on the book publishing.
    .-= Still Life in Southeast Asia´s last blog ..Red Cross Snake Farm =-.

  6. Arlene’s avatar

    Great pictures Sally! How appropriate that pink bicycle is! Good luck with the book and just enjoy the now! xx
    .-= Arlene´s last blog ..Ask Arlene…How to know when to leave a Tango teacher? =-.

  7. sallycat’s avatar

    Hi everyone!

    I’m so sorry I haven’t replied to each comment this time. Was busy bicycling the Montevideo coast and now working 24/7 to keep the book in my head while prepare to send it to the book designer (after that, very little chance for adjustments you see). Just can’t get distracted by anything, even lovely comments on my blog!
    I’m almost there though, so close to hitting the send button now… hours rather than days away I hope. Let’s see.
    News very soon.

    Thank you all for your wishes for my trip and the book.
    I am so grateful to know that you are out there and that you stick with me.

    Warmest hugs, SC

  8. margo’s avatar

    Thank you for feeling for us. =) Slowly the country will be rebuilt, we’ve gotten so much help from abroad, it’s incredible.

    I been reading more of your blog today and I just love it. What great posts. I just had to say it.


    1. sallycat’s avatar

      Hello Margo,
      Am so happy you are enjoying my blog, and I felt very touched today to connect in a tiny way with Chile via you.

      Thank you so much for commenting, and I’m delighted to have made you smile with my posts. I am going to check your blog out too… am really looking forward to the moment when my book is sent to the designers (just a few days away now) and I can breathe in space (without manuscripts whirling in my mind) and catch up on other people’s blogs… I am enjoying the whole process of publishing a book (honest!) but confess I am dreaming slightly of the next stage of it… the stage where the manuscript is out of my hands :)

      I send you a warm hug, SC

      1. margo’s avatar

        Mil Gracias! You’ve made me smile again. The book sounds so great! Best of luck from your now regular reader!


  9. tavo’s avatar

    come to La Paloma !!!!
    .-= tavo´s last blog ..Marzo es perfecto!!! =-.

    1. sallycat’s avatar

      Well tavo, I gotta say it does look rather gorgeous… maybe next time :)

  10. Diana’s avatar

    Hi Sally! I love your site. I’m in Buenos Aires for the semester, and it’s so much fun being here and seeing so many of the things you’ve written about. I went to La Ideal tonight and got my first taste of first real (non-show) tango dancing. I was wondering if you would send me your email address- I promise I won’t expect a response until your e-book craze is finished!

    1. sallycat’s avatar

      Hi Diana,
      Very happy to hear you enjoyed your first night on the tango town :)
      Keep enjoying!

      I’ll try to be in touch… Yeah, things have been a bit hectic. Hoping they’ll calm down soon.
      Till then, here’s to Happy Tango!


Comments are now closed.