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August 27, 2005
Amy writes:

El Anglo meat factory - close up of Victorian generator
See our Uruguay photos.

We've seen some of the greatest landmarks in the world - Ankor Wat, Ayers Rock, Machu Picchu and now, El Anglo meat factory in Fray Bentos.

The factory churned out horrible tinned meat for over 100 years before it closed in 1979. It's now a haunting, decaying complex of buildings in which victorian machinery lies where it was abandoned, under decades of grime. It's hard to believe that at it's peak the factory made this town the richest in South America, slaughtering over 12,000 animals every day.

A huge warehouse of meat hooks lay rusting through one window, ancient machinery covered in dust in another. Cracks in the walls, lots of broken windows, birds nesting in the old packing rooms. A brick chimney towered above us as our guide pointed out the big glass windows of the slaughter house. For somewhere that once employed 5000 people, this was now the loneliest place I'd ever been. In a 'shivers down my spine' way.

The highlights of the on-site museum were the two-headed calf pickled in a jar since 1938 and the exhibit showing the many faces of tinned meat through the ages including the delicous-sounding 'Breakfast Tongues'.

It was enough to put Jody off meat for half a day, which was a good thing too as none of the restaurants in the tiny hamlet of Fray Bentos claimed to have any. While everyone else we met was lovely and friendly, most restaurant owners stared as if we were aliens, tried to avoid serving us, then would say they didn't have any food left while other punters, locals I'm sure, tucked into juicy steaks.

Wanting to escape the weirdness, we holed up in our hotel room (strangely the best we've had in South America) drinking chocolate milk. Like Argentina, the lunch options in Uruguay are limited to hotdogs, burgers and greasy breaded chicken - so chocolate milk actually seemed healthy.

The food in the country's capital, Montevideo, was more than we could have hoped for. In fact, we both agree it's probably the best meat we've ever eaten!

The Mercado del Puerto (translated as 'market by the port') looks like a British train station, was once a meat market and now houses the many restaurants that punters flock to for lunch. We've never seen happier faces! There's the tradional asado favourites (beef, sausages, pork) along with some delicacies you'd never get elsewhere, like Morcilla Dulce (sweet black pudding). I never thought I'd say it, but blood congealed with orange peel is delicious! This meal restored my faith in food. Montevideo was pretty tranquil for a capital city but that was the reason we liked it. A good place to stroll and relax. The calm before the storm.

Where are we? In the storm that is Buenos Aires, Argentina's capital. A sprawling hectic city. And what are we doing? Buying lots of shoes.

posted at 10:08 PM | link

6 Comments:

  • My wife and I are heading to Uruguay for a week in November so I'm glad I found your amazing photos and stories. We'll be trying to get to a football match in Montevideo, but don't know where to find out who's playing and how to get tickets. How did you manage it in Buenos Aires?

    By Blogger James, at 4:26 AM  

  • bueno, me alegro que te haya gustado uruguay

    By Blogger Diego, at 2:30 PM  

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Jody and Amy have finished their 10 month adventure around the world, that began Nov 2, 2004, and ended Sep 2, 2005. They're back home in London now, doing normal things, like going to work and drinking tap water. You can see a map of what was their planned route, but we didn't quite follow it.
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