July 17- Last night after our ferry ride from Buenos Aires to Colonia, we took a bus to Montevideo which was a 3 hour trip. We got to the bus terminal in Las Treses and stumbled upon Whitney Shay, a fellow American from San Diego who asked if we'd like to split an uber. We did and exchanged info upon parting.
We arrived at Casa Sarandi, a quaint little hotel we are staying at for 2 nights. The owner, Karen Higgs, met us and gave us info on Montevideo. We told her we were interested in visiting the Andes 1972 museum and meeting survivors of that crash. She said she would arrange for the creator of the museum, Jorg Thomsen, to meet us at the museum at 10 am and give us a private tour, but she didn't have any contacts to get us in touch with survivors.
Our morning started off wandering around Old Town Montevideo to try and find the museum on Rincon street. We arrived on time and met Jorg, a really nice Swedish guy. He gave us a personal tour and told us many things not mentioned on the displays. I asked him how the survivors made the sunglasses they had on in the pictures. He said they had taken the moldable plastic off the pilot's logbook and then used the stretchy wire from the plane seat covers pockets to secure them to their faces. He told us how they mentally survived and had hope for the future, which helped keep the remaining 16 survivors alive.
We toured the museum and watched videos there. Jorg asked us about Alaska and what brought us to the museum. I told him we came to Montevideo specifically
to see the museum and meet the survivors. He said the survivors rarely come in as they don't like the attention. As we wandered thru the exhibits, Jorg returned and whispered to us to come back at 3:45 exactly. Curious as to why, my raised eyebrow indicating
my question, he said, "I have contacted Eduardo Strauch, who's jacket is on exhibit upstairs. He is one of the survivors and has agreed to come meet you!"
WOW! We were excited!!
So we left the museum and headed to the central plaza, where we ran into Whitney, our uber share gal. The three of us went to coffee and had a great chat, then headed to the port market to see the "Mercado del Puerto", aka Disneyland for carnivores. We opened the market doors and were hit with swirling smells of grilled meats of all kinds and people everywhere! It was a smorgasbord of meat! We decided on a ribeye steak and a bottle of Uruguayan Tannat wine. It was amazing! Tender, sweet, full of flavor that burst with every bite.
After the museum, we found a coffee shop
with amazing mochas. We sat and enjoyed our drinks, killing time until 3:45. Back to the museum we went. Jorg met us at the door and told us to go look around some more, so we did. After a few minutes we were secretly introduced to Eduardo Strauch, survivor
of flight 571, which crashed in the Andes mountains in 1972. He was very interested in Alaska and we talked about our home state with him for quite some time. I asked him how they procured water at the crash site. He said they took the air vent and placed
it in the sun, the water dripped drop by drop and that's how they drank. He said water was very hard to get and it was so cold out that it froze often. The sun was only out for limited days while they were stuck there for 72 days. I told him we teach survival
skills to people and he said, " oh yes! People must learn these things! We were young and didn't know any survival skills then. It was very hard to figure it out, but we did. "
Eduardo signed our copy of the book "Alive" and then we had our picture taken with him. He said he would like to come visit us in Alaska one day. We gave him our contact info. He gave me a big strong hug and kissed my cheek, then gave Nate a solid handshake. It was an incredible experience to meet Eduardo. He told us he was writing a book about his experience and having it published in English. We will be getting that book! Eduardo gave me another hug and kiss on the cheek and ducked out the front door, obviously getting uncomfortable as attention was being generated with our interaction. So awesome to have this experience!! Loving Uruguay!!
P.s. I was informed by the guru of Uruguay herself, Mrs Karen Higgs, who wrote the guru'guay guide to Uruguay and the guru'guay guide to Montevideo found on Amazon (we are staying at her wonderful downtown Casa Sarandi) that Jorg is actually 100% Uruguayan and of Danish decent, not Swedish!