This is the third in our series of articles documenting the Sharing the Point South America 2012 Tour.
It was an early wake up call to get to the ferry for the trip to Montevideo, Uruguay. We had all agreed to a short night the night before because we were going to have to catch the 7:30am ferry, with a mandatory 6:30am check in.
That’s not how things roll, though, in the Oleson/Noel family tour. They still hadn’t actually seen a real Argentinian tango club. Joel, Paul, Ricardo and Michael went on the hunt and found a place where locals go to tango in the evening. Only hitch? It seems like tango is only for the over-60 crowd nowadays. Even with those restrictions, the guys had fun talking to the clientele and learning a couple steps.
Arriving in Montevideo
It was a three and a half hour ferry ride from Buenos Aires to Montevideo. The ferry was surprisingly spacious, even to the point of having a “duty free” shop on board. It was all the same crap that you can find in the airport, but more convenient because you could pick it up right there. In other words, I bought nothing.
The ride into the ferry terminal at Montevideo gave us a quick flavor of the town. It is a port city which sprang up to cover the waterfronts along the bay. The port harbors navy boats, tour ships and shipping frigates. We saw much more of the harbor when we overlooked the entire city from its highest point later that day.
Our first taste of the bartering culture within Uruguay came when we tried to get a taxi outside the ferry terminal. Our bags were rounded up and thrown in the back of a taxi before we had a chance to negotiate. When it turned out our driver was trying to charge us double the going rate, the bags were quickly removed and put into two separate cars for the ride into town.
The drive to the hotel made it apparent that we were not in an affluent area of the city. Not that it was dangerous or anything, just that we were no longer in a contemporary metropolitan area. The buildings were low and flat with very little color, other than massive wall art. But this proved to be deceptive as we toured the city later that day.
Our hotel was directly across the street from the beach, which made it kind of nice. The second big windfall was that the Microsoft office hooked up directly to the hotel… out one door, into the next.
We dumped our bags at the hotel and headed out for lunch back at the seaport marketplace. Our intention was to get a light lunch and then do some sightseeing, but once again, the Meat Gods grabbed us. Though not of the quantity and proportions of their Argentinian neighbors, the Uruguay food culture still is extremely meat prevalent.
That lunch in Montevideo was the first time we played the “stack the phone” game. For those of you who are always nose down in email, twitter or facebook, you’ll appreciate this one. Everyone who had a cell phone, stacked it on the table before we ordered lunch. The rule was whoever picked up their phone before the meal was over had to pick up the check. It got a pretty big laugh when we stacked up the phones, but the message got across that sometimes, you just have to turn the damn thing off.
After lunch, we walked the marketplace with Gabriel Lopez, the local sponsor for many of the things we were to do over the next day. Gabriel is an extremely gracious host, who I have met several times at SharePoint Conferences in the United States. He was one of the first people I called when we started planning the tour.
True to his character, Gabriel took the day to show us around Montevideo, starting with the panoramic views from the top of the citadel, then to the old residential area of town with huge mansions, followed by a stop at an ice cream parlor, ending with our first SharePoint meeting, knee deep in the bay on which Montevideo sits.
Lest you think it’s all fun and games on these types of trips, there is constant discussion of SharePoint, especially when the locals have a chance to get us all in a group and talk about what is happening in their region.
Gabriel’s company, SharePlus, deals with mobile apps and was just purchased by Infragistics. One of our discussions centered on the position of mobile in the SharePoint arena. He wanted to know if there was VC capital available for that type of market. That morphed into a discussion of the purpose of SharePoint hosting within the overall environment of the SharePoint Community. And Joel had an interesting insight into where he thinks hosting fits in that scenario …
During our tour of Montevideo, we stopped at an ice cream parlor where the SharePoint discussions continued. I asked Gabriel about the local response to the event. Was he satisfied with the registration and potential turnout for the event the next day? It turned out, that this was the first ever exclusively SharePoint event in Uruguay.
This was pretty satisfying to hear. If the purpose of Sharing the Point is to visit underserved areas in the world, then we had hit center target on this visit.
After our drive around town, we were taken to the speaker dinner where we met the local sponsors: Fabian Imaz (Siderys), Juan Suarez and Leticia Jawad (arKanosoft), Iang Yim and Marcelo Lopez (UruIT), Ricardo Szyfer (Microsoft). It was an enjoyable two hours, talking about local concerns of the SharePoint Community, how these companies were providing services around the platform and their plans for growing their companies.
The next morning, we walked out of the hotel, took a left, walked 50 feet and entered the Microsoft offices. We had one large room for the day to give presentations, but it was to a packed audience. It was nice to find out that most people spoke English, so we wouldn’t need the live translators that used in our other locations.
During a break between session, Joel, Michael, Paul and I jumped into a cab to hit the center of town for a quick walk. It was a nice, low key area with some beautiful architecture and an open market in the main plaza. Michael has a great set of photos of our walk around for that day, including images from the drive with Gabriel.
All in all, our stay in Uruguay was exactly what we were looking for when we began Sharing the Point. This is a market that is on the upswing and deserves recognition from the SharePoint Community. Little did we know that leaving the country would be one of the most difficult parts of our travels.
“Your plane has crashed down. We have had to cancel the flight.” …
Still yet to come in the series:
- Sharing the Point: Santiago, Chile
- Sharing the Point: King George Island, Antarctica
- Sharing the Point: Punta Arenas, Chile
- Sharing the Point: Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego Province, Argentina