Montevideo and the Polatschek Family Tree



El 2 de Mayo de 2012

My Dear Family and Friends,

Forty years ago, in 1972, my father Otto decided to draw a Polatschek Family Tree.  He wrote to his sister Ida Kiewe in London and to his cousins around the world to gather information.

 Eventually, with pen and paper, Otto drew a chart.  He included the names and dates of his relatives, past and present.  In addition, he added as much information as possible about his many uncles, aunts and cousins who had “disappeared” during the Holocaust in Europe in the 1940’s. 

When the large chart was complete, Otto mailed copies to his relatives in Europe, Canada, California, South America, South Africa and Israel.

Over the years, my father and I discussed our Family Tree.   I was curious about where his (my) relatives had lived in Europe and where their descendants were now living.

Montevideo: City Tour


República Oriental del Uruguay

May 3, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

Soon after I purchased my Lonely Planet Argentina travel guide, I wrote a strong letter to the editor.  I told him I was disappointed that the front cover, the spine and the inside cover neglected to indicate any reference to Uruguay.  The small Uruguay chapter is at the very end of the book and appears to be just an afterthought.

The editor responded with some silly explanation but will consider my recommendation for the next edition.   (I checked.  The latest addition is modified per my comment.)

Uruguay does form a buffer state between its enormous and popular neighbors, Brazil to the north and Argentina to the south

Uruguay East: Tranquil, Raucous, Creative, Unique

Punte del Este
May 5, 2012
Dear Friends,
My cousin Diana was worried.
Diana knew of my international travels.  So she was concerned that she would be unable to show me any sights in Uruguay that I would find interesting.
"No te prucupes" I told Diana.   "Please don't worry."  After all, not every country can boast a Machu Picchu or a Great Wall or a Taj Mahal.
I have found in my travels, whether in a remote village in the mountains of Northern Thailand or in a small city in the rural American South, I always discover something unique.
And so it shall be ... as Diana and Guillermo and I drive east from Montevideo.

Retirement at Punta del Este

Punta del Este


May 6, 2012

Dear Friends,

"Jan, I thought you were so courageous to retire to Bangkok."  I have heard this comment many times, most recently from my brother-in-law Stephen Wiesenfeld.  

I respond that the decision regarding my retirement location was not made impulsively.  I think of it as a "process."  I traveled to Southeast Asia several times.  I feel comfortable and safe and "at home" in Bangkok.  It was an easy decision. 

Colonia del Sacramento

Colonia del Sacramento


May 7, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

I am sitting in the breezy shade of enormous plain trees, nursing my café con leche at El Drugstore Restaurant and Bar.   I have been sitting here for hours.  Hours!    Under the trees, I enjoy the sunny and mild fall weather. 

Listening to the birds. 

Listening to the music.

I am mesmerized by the guitar duo “Dos en Do.”