Thursday, April 27, 2006

Football, Nacional fell 2-1

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Nacional badge

Tonight Nacional fell to its rival, the Brazilian’s “Internacional de Porto Alegre”, in its first leg quarterfinals match, in the Libertadores de America cup. It’s a shame, because the game was played here, in Nacional's stadium (el parque central), and winning in Porto Alegre its going to be real hard. It’s been long time since any Uruguayan club made it to the finals, near twenty years now.

Nacional first team, football uruguayEl Club Nacional de Futbol is one of the two biggest, and more ancient football teams in Uruguay, it has more than a hundred years old, founded in may 1899, which is a lot to say when the sport itself is around that time old. Nicknamed el bolso, Nacional is actually considered among the firsts true South American football teams, since prior to the foundation of Nacional all football teams would only allow European players. Also Nacional’s stadium hosted the first match in the first world cup ever.

I could go on babbling about el bolso’s glorious history but you could get that info somewhere else.I’d rather tell you a little story, first hand, just to put you in context about what this team means to a lot of Uruguayans. My father is a Nacional supporter, always been, his brother, my uncle, is, and always been, a big fan of Peñarol, the other ancient Uruguayan football team, Nacional’s nemesis. When I was born, some years from now, my uncle was decided to make a Peñarol’s fan out of me, at all costs, so he went and bought this little peñarol’s official team baby outfit, hoping that it would become the first football garment I wear charming the little creature to be a follower of the dark side forever I guess, or at least to take pictures of me in it in order to black mail me in the future, or my father or whatever. Anyway, when my grandma found out about this, the legend goes she went berserk. She was a big Nacional’s supporter and couldn’t believe my uncle’s nerve. They say she gave him the lecture of his life, about how if he wanted a baby to wear that kind of (evil?)outfit he would have to have it himself. My uncle still keeps the Peñarol’s baby outfit to this present day, I've seen it. I am a Nacional supporter, always been :)

Nacional supporters Uruguay
(images taken from Nacional's official site and here)

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Monday, April 10, 2006

Trekking in la Sierra de las Animas, Maldonado

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Panoramic picture of Sierra de las Animas, Maldonado, Uruguay La Sierra de las Animas is the name of a couple of hills in Maldonado (actually a sierra) of no more than 508 meters high (did I ever mention that Uruguay is a flat country?). It's actually the second highest "peak" in Uruguay, being the first one el cerro catedral with something like ten more meters high, not much more (dont take my word for it, go get some encyclopedia and correct me).

It's a very popular trekking spot in Uruguay, there are a couple of different walks to choose from. The one we did was to make it to the top of the hill, which is about a two to three hour walk, but there is also another one called "El cañadon de los espejos". The last one is named after pools of rainwater with small waterfalls you arrive to when you reach to the end of the path. The place is said to be very beautiful after rainy days with the waterfalls in their full glamour.

Arrival at sierra de las animasSierra de las animasSierra de las animas

There used to be a third walk to the "pozos azules" (or blue pools) which is now closed, and there is also a whole discussion about which ones are the true legendary blue pools which I won't go into.

La Sierra de las Animas is also very popular among mountain bikers who carry their bikes to the top and then slide from there.

Once we arrived to the place we payed the 40 uruguayan pesos fee, and listened carefully to the pleasetakegoodcareofthepark fifteen minutes lecture. The place is maintained as an ecological park and we learned that it's forbidden even to spit fruit seeds while walking in order to protect the original flora (killing anything that walks or crawls or flies is of course out of the question).

When you are on the top of the hill you understand why they used to call it Mirador Nacional (National watcher...err, no.. watchpost, sightseer...err, something like that) as you can see a great part of Maldonado and even Montevideo or so they say in clear days.

We crossed a bunch of horses on the way to the top, and one snake and one impressive tarantula on the way down.

If you are the kind of person that likes walking, watching nature and just talking with someone in the way to the top (to the peak) you probably would've enjoyed it.

Sierra de las animas

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