a detour to south america: my week in Uruguay (Part 3)

December 26th, 2014:

We all woke up to a spectacular morning and trickled in to the kitchen for a light breakfast of toast, dulce de leche, and fresh plums and peaches.  Ingun was extra excited for the morning because Nacho and the kids were coming up to El Campo to get the horses ready to ride!  I, personally, am terrified of horses.  Mostly because last time I was at El Campo I was thrown off the back of one after it was stung by a horse fly.  It backed up kicking in to a fence and me, not being an expert in anything equestrian, fell off terrified of being trampled.  Ingun and the little cousins, on the other hand, love horses and are great at riding them, so I was more than happy to snap photos in the sun all morning, starting with a jumping picture of course :)


While Nacho and Cookie were getting the horses saddled, the cousins decided to play some football with their new Christmas gifts.  Alec was half referee (for the on-field arguments that broke out) and half opposing team, and they all ended up kicking around in a circle.  It was about 95º outside but they played for quite a while!



When it was time to ride, Cookie and Nacho had saddled up two horses to take turns on.  Ingun and Cookie went first, followed by Alec, little Sofia, and Paloma. They were all total naturals… especially Sofi who is only 7 and took charge of the horse as if it was a tiny dog!


My mom and dad helped Nacho cool off the horses at the end of their ride with some cool water straight from the well.  I wouldn’t even get close enough to hold their reins, but I did manage to pet one of their noses briefly.  Progress!


We were all super ready to take a dip in the water before leaving La Paloma to go back to Montevideo, so we packed up, said goodbye to El Campo, and went back down to the beach house.  On my way out, I noticed a list of “golden rules” next to the door on the farm.  It was both funny and sweet– a list of reminders to keep the grass cut and plants trimmed, to clean up whatever you make dirty, but also to be good to one another and be happy. I love the thought and humor that went in to this simple piece of paper and it made me smile to know that my family has our priorities in line!


We spent the early afternoon at the beach and enjoyed some final moments of sun and sand.  My uncles brought out their small windsurfing/sailboat-thingie and took it out for a spin in the inlet.  It was pretty windy that afternoon again and the boat flipped over once or twice even under the firm hand of my expert sailor uncles.  Somehow they convinced my dad to go out with them and he took a nice little dump in to the water and walked all the way back from the other side of the shore soaking wet.  It was a pretty funny sight to see :)


When it was finally time to say our goodbyes and give the last hugs and kisses to the little ones, we made sure to get a final photo in front of the beach house.  I’m pretty sure its the only house in the world that has our name on it, and I know its a special place I can always come back to :)


We got on the road and braved the absolute torrential downpour to get back to Montevideo by the early evening.  Because it was my second to last night in Uruguay, we wanted to take Charito out to a nice dinner to thank her for hosting us and being generally an angel as always!  A few recommendations for a great milanesa restaurant in Positos, a cute area of Montevideo, took us to a restaurant called “Milamores”.

If you haven’t heard of a milanesa, it is a very typical Uruguayan dish that comes straight from Italy.  Its a very thin pounded piece of meat, often beef or veal, breaded and fried with all kinds of toppings.  This restaurant’s menu had nothing but milanesas of every variation and it took us a good 20 minutes to even read through (and translate for the non-Spanish speakers) everything that they had to offer.  We all ended up with different kinds… from a caprese to one with a mustard sauce, to Ingun’s: a milanesa topped with two fried eggs and three strips of bacon.  YUM.  Here we all are at dinner!


In my tradition of always finding animals in every country that I visit, I found another beautiful kitten who posed for me in the doorway of Milamores as we were leaving.  A perfect ending to a wonderful day filled with dear family!


Stay tuned for my last post about the old city and making gnocchi!

a detour to south america: my week in Uruguay (Part 2)

December 25th, 2014:

Christmas Day was beach day for all of us!  I was looking forward to getting some sun, enjoying the water, but most of all, getting to spend more time with family!  Truthfully, we could have been stuck inside while it poured down rain and I would have been happy as a clam getting to play with my little cousins and spend time with my aunts and uncles!  Luckily it did not rain, however, and we had a beautiful sunny day to spend at the beach.  The beach closest to our house, about 10 feet away, is more of an inlet and has tons of cool shells to collect.  The water was beautiful and we set up our umbrellas and towels before jumping in.


Unfortunately it was pretty windy in the morning, so Yaya suggested that we head to another beach on the other side of La Paloma, about 10 minutes away, where the wind wouldn’t be blowing so hard.  We packed up the army of kids and stuff and piled in the car.  I love the “if you can’t carry it, it doesn’t come with us” mentality, so all the kids helped carry their items down to the shore.  They’re such well behaved munchkins!


I had a great time chatting and taking pictures and playing in the water all afternoon.  La Paloma is so peaceful and not crowded at all– there were only about 5 other people on the beach with us!



We decided to take a Boschi grandchildren photo where everyone lined up in height order next to the water.  With a little coaxing and some height disagreements, we ended up with an awesome shot!  The only three not pictured here are Emi, Flor, and Santiago– we missed them!  In order below: Felipe, Agustin, Matias, Sofia, Mateo, Luli, Juan Tomas, Paloma, Agustina, Magela and Diego.


It started to get windy on this beach too, and the sand storm (although SUPER cool to see!) was kicking up, so we packed up to head back to the beach house.  Nacho guided us home and stopped at this really cool little surfing beach for us to peek at on the way.  Perfect opportunity for another jumping picture!


We arrived back at the beach house to a delicious lunch of leftover grilled pork, salads, and tons of beautiful quiche: leek and onion, broccoli and cheddar, and an interesting sweet/savory one with ham, cheese, apple, and sugar.  It was the perfect light lunch before the amazing asado we were going to have for dinner!  The kids played with their Christmas gifts outside while the adults relaxed in the shade.


After a little nap, we came back together for Christmas dinner– a traditional “asado”, or grilled feast.  There were all kinds of meats: chorizo (a type of sausage), ribs, steak, and some of the more exotic parts of the cow: kidney, small intestine, liver, etc. Everything is grilled on these beautiful barbecues that every single Uruguayan has at their homes, with big grates for grilling and a place for firewood that turns in to the hot coals on the side.


Diego and Jorge Enrique were the grill masters and kept the delicious food coming all night.  It wasn’t like a buffet of meats– they came out in small pieces for everyone to munch on with a piece or two of bread.  When the steak came off the grill, Diego asked us how we like ours cooked.  Susana and I both love our steaks almost “mooing”, so we got beautiful rare pieces that melted in our mouths.  I’m still dreaming about how good everything was!

At the end of the night, we wanted to take a group photo of all the Oyhenarts and all of the Boschis together.  It was not an easy feat but we managed to get some good combinations.  My favorite was the shot of all the adults!  What a wonderful way to spend Christmas :)


Stay tuned tomorrow for my last day in La Paloma and fun in Montevideo!

a detour to South America: my week in Uruguay (Part 1)

December 22 & 23, 2014

For Christmas this year, my family and I took a trip down south to Uruguay to spend the holidays with family. If you have not had the pleasure to visit, or are googling a map of South America to see which country I’m referring to, let me give you a little background. Uruguay is hands-down the most beautiful and peaceful country in South America with gorgeous beaches, delicious food, and fantastic people.  There are only about 3 million Uruguayans, with almost half of them living in the capital of Montevideo.

My father was born in Uruguay and moved to the US with his parents and brother when he was just two years old.  Since then, he’s visited many times and I had the priviledge of going once in the winter of 2002, summer of 2009, and this summer of 2014 as well.  I should mention that their seasons are the opposite of our seasons here in Washington, DC, which was an absolute joy as we left 36º and rainy DC weather for the sand and 90º sunshine of Montevideo.

This trip was to be a particularly special one as my mom and Ingun were making their first visits to Uruguay.  My mom, dad, and I flew from DC –> Miami –> Montevideo while Alec and Ingun took a several flights from Oslo –> Paris –> Buenos Aires –> Montevideo.

After a significant delay and nearly roasting to death on the plane in Miami, we all arrived safely in Montevideo on Tuesday afternoon, ready to see family, eat good food, and take a nice long nap.  My great-aunt Charito and her beau Dario came with Alec and Ingun to pick us up at the airport with huge smiles and big hugs.  We were whisked away to Charito’s apartment for a lunch of Torta Pascualina, baked zapallitos (squash) with salsa blanca, caprese and a carrot and peanut salad.  It was absolutely delicious and hit all of my cravings for Uruguayan food all at once!  Maybe I’ll make torta pascualina next for my food blog! :)


After lunch, we decided to take a quick detour at the Carrasco Lawn & Tennis Club before Alec, Ingun, mom and dad went off to their respective hotels for a nap.  My great grandfather was the president of the Club long ago and his name was even on a plaque on the wall!  I should take this opportunity to quickly mention that because Uruguay is such a small country, my relatives know EVERYONE.  The entire trip we couldn’t go anywhere without Charito saying hello to an old friend, and at the Club it was no different!  It always fascinates me that this is the one place in the world where my last name, Oyhenart, and my family names, Aviles, Boschi, and Martinez, are well known to everyone.  Its pretty cool :)

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We emerged from our naps a few hours later, showered and refreshed and ready for the highlight of the day: gnocchi!  My dad is a food lover, especially Uruguayan food, so Charito promised him a dinner of gnocchi for his first night in town.  She invited aunts, uncles, and cousins to join in and we had a spectacular night eating inside and outside on the patio, catching up and chowing down!  The gnocchi were served with a sinful porcini mushroom sauce and a delicious red sauce with braised chicken. It was so good!


In good old Uruguayan fashion, we finished the evening around 3AM and, much like jet lagged zombies, pattered off to bed to get ready for another day of family and fun!

December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve in Uruguay, like many other places in the world, is the big day of celebration (unlike the 25th in the USA).  We had plans to drive to our favorite beach town, La Paloma, to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with the Boschi side of the family:  Jorge and Susana (the matriarch and patriarch) were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary and all of their kids (Jorge Enrique, Susi (Cookie), Ignacio (Nacho) and Adriana (Yaya)) were going to be their with all of THEIR kids… way too many for me to type out :)

Its about a 3 hour drive from Montevideo to La Paloma so we decided to split the difference and stop in Punta del Este, one of the most famous and popular destinations in Uruguay, for lunch.  Just outside of Punta, we stopped at an overlook with breathtaking views of the city and the water.  Alec and I decided to get a sibling Christmas picture!


Next on my list of Uruguayan foods that I was craving was a “chivito”, or steak sandwich with every topping you can imagine. There is a great chiviteria in Punta del Este called Marcos, so naturally we stopped there for our fix.  My mom and I split a chivito but Alec, Ingun and my dad all took one for the team and finished one themselves.  We all decided to get the classic preparation: steak, ham, peppers, onions, fried egg, lettuce, tomato, and mayo.  Its a beast of a sandwich but is so, so good! Here’s my lunch:


We stayed a few nights in Punta del Este on my last trip to Uruguay in 2009, but since we were en route to La Paloma and didn’t have time to stay on this visit, I made sure that we showed my mom and Ingun my very favorite feature of the town: Los Dedos.  There is a spot on the beach where five stone fingers come out of the sand and look like a hand has been buried.  Its the coolest little piece of artwork and has become a symbol of the town.  Naturally I had to take a jumping picture with them!


Full and happy, we continued on to La Paloma and arrived around 7PM.  Our family owns a farm outside of town called “El Casco”, but we have always called it “El Campo”, or “the farm”.  It sits on a bazillion hectares (a quadrillion acres it seems like) where we have a beautiful farm house, barn, and tons of land for horses and cattle.  We were going to stay at El Campo for those two evenings so we headed up while it was still light outside to settle in before going to the beach house.  Check out this view!


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We all piled in to the car and headed down with a sack of Christmas presents to the beach house right on the water where the rest of the family had gathered for dinner. Nearly everyone from the Boschi clan was there (minus Emi, Flor and Santiago), so we had a grand total of 17 Boschis plus the 5 of us ready to celebrate Christmas Eve with a barbecue dinner and some fireworks on the beach!  Dinner was slow cooked grilled pork and tons of different cold salads, sort of “picnic style”, with wine and beer all around.


The little ones played with sparklers and had great fun writing their names with the glow from the sparks.  It was so neat to see how grown up they all were just 5 years after my last visit.  New cousins I’d never met, old ones who were no longer little babies– and they all had incredible patients with me as I regained my Spanish fluency :)


We distracted the kids with fireworks on the beach as the clock struck midnight on the 24th marking the arrival of Christmas Day.  As they marveled at the huge firework display over the beach, my aunts and uncles and I rushed in to the house to put the presents under the tree.  In Uruguay, Santa Clause is called “Papa Noel” and he brings presents at midnight.  The kids came bursting in to the house as soon as the last spark fell with wide eyes and huge smiles as they saw that Papa Noel had been there.  “But I was watching the whole time!” one yelled, confused as to how he didn’t catch the man in the act. “How did he get in the house?” I asked one of them, pretending to be very confused.  “Papa Noel has keys to everyone’s house, of course”, came the reply of the littlest one.  It was such a sweet moment!

Here’s the before:


And the after!


The best gifts were the football kits that my little cousins Matias and Agustin got from Papa Noel.  They were absolutely thrilled when they saw the set of gloves, shoes, shirt and pants from their favorite football players.  Agustin, only 4 years old, knows every single flag of each country that played in the World Cup, along with every player and their team AND their jersey number! He is adorable.  Here they are in their new kits:


All in all, it was a great Christmas Eve to spend in my favorite spot: La Paloma.  Sun, sand, good food and family… what more could you ask for?