Sunday, November 26, 2006


We woke early, with heavy heads thanks to a late night in the bar saying fair-well to our out-going crew, who are heading home after their 4 month shift. As we edged towards Montevideo, a pilot came aboard to guide us through busy shipping lanes and into port. We passed everything from tiny fishing boats to an enormous Dutch cruise-ship, before Captain Marshall took the helm to personally ease the Shackleton alongside Saga Sea, a long range Norwegian factory trawler. We tied up, stern-to the wharf and lowered the gangplank to allow the local customs officials aboard. Bottles of single malt changed hands to ‘ease’ the paperwork and by 12:00 we collected our dollars and shore pass and were ready to hit the town.

The Meat Market is the first building that comes into view on leaving the port gate. Not a dire night club, the market is an old railway station housing some of the best eateries in Monte. The crew guided us straight to Ottonello’s, a large quadrangle bar surrounding a giant wood fuelled barbeque on which every type of cut and fillet imaginable was sizzling.

Filled with excellent steak, we headed into the faded colonial streets of Montevideo. My only previous experience of a non-European country was Tanzania, three years ago. Travelling by myself, I had found the constant bothering from touts and pushers a nuisance that took a couple of weeks to get used to. Thankfully Uruguay is a lot more developed and we were free to roam the streets and markets with no hassle at all.

Later that evening, we headed back into town to sample the pubs and bars. Despite finishing his tour in a wheelchair, Andy was still keen to party and guided us expertly through the grid-form city. We grabbed a pizza in a local café and joined other crew members at a terrace bar on the street. Monte looks towards Italy for a lot of its cultural influence, so as the evening progressed the bars became livelier with bands playing and people dancing. Our party reeled from one bar to the next until we parted company at about 3am, the Fids returning to ship and the crew heading to ‘houses of excellent repute’.

Monte was fun.

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