Sunday, April 26, 2015


I'd like to welcome  Jerold Last to the blog as part of the Escape with Dollycas tour. Jerold writes the Roger and Suzanne South American Mystery series. The Deadly Dog Show is the 6th in the series.


By Jerold Last

Given the fusion of travel and reading characteristic of Dollycas, I want to briefly discuss my real-life experiences in some of the actual places featured in my other books in the Roger and Suzanne mystery series in addition to “The Deadly Dog Show”. These books use exotic locales, mostly in South America, as a setting for their story.

In the summer of 2013 I flew to and from Montevideo from my home in Northern California. The trip takes about 25 hours airport to airport including the layovers for connecting flights; it’s a long way south and east of my home in Northern California to that part of South America. According to American Airlines, it’s about 7,000 air miles one-way. Our route took me from Sacramento to Dallas-Fort Worth to Miami to Montevideo and vice-versa. Miami-Montevideo and the return trip are overnight flights where an hour or two of sleep makes all the difference in how you’ll feel when you get there.

The overall impression I got from my previous trips to Montevideo was that little had changed over the 31 years I’d been going back and forth. This time it was different. New construction of apartments and buildings for businesses was evident as we drove west from the airport in the Carrasco neighborhood, all along The Ramblas bordering the Rio de la Plata as we drove into the heart of the city, and in Pocitos, the upscale neighborhood between downtown and Carrasco Elaine and I had lived in back in 1999. The book cover for my novel “The Matador Murders” is a photo of the actual area in Pocitos near the Rio de la Plata where we lived in Montevideo. Occasional new high-rise apartment buildings were going up seemingly everywhere downtown and along the Ramblas, inland from the river. Several buildings were being remodeled and modernized.

Gentrification of neighborhoods extended to restaurants. In 1982 you had your choice of beef or beef in any Uruguayan restaurant. It was very good beef, free range fed, either very large portions of the best of cuts individually or the parillada compleada (essentially all the parts of the cow barbecued at the same time), a meal guaranteed not to let you walk away hungry. If one were a vegan, you were dead meat at dinner (figuratively, at least). In 1999, you could find one or two restaurants in Montevideo with a rudimentary salad bar (lettuce, tomato, potato salad, canned beets or peas) to complement the beef. It is significant that even now, Uruguayans use the word “meat” as a synonym for beef. But, it’s even more significant that the menus in the better restaurants now have chicken, pork, and often a vegetarian selection available for dinner in the new Montevideo.

We ate at a popular superb new restaurant (Tandory, expensive by Uruguayan standards, but worth every peso of the bill) on an obscure side street in a residential area. Tandory’s offerings were every bit as good (or better) than the best restaurants of Sacramento or the San Francisco Bay area. The style was a fusion of Uruguayan and Thai flavors that really, really worked well. High points of my meal were Mollejas al jerez (Sweetbreads with mushrooms in a sherry-based gravy) and Red Naam Pescado (fish) coated with coconut and lemongrass, with a risotto of banana and cilantro. This went very well with a nice bottle of a red Tannat wine from the menu.

We went to another dinner a few nights later at a restaurant two blocks north from our old apartment. I didn’t recognize anything we saw---trendy restaurants, a new parking garage, banks, and a new shopping mall. Everything was new since 1999. We drove two blocks south and everything was the same---the same apartment building, the same small park where the Saturday morning Feria described in my novel “The Ambivalent Corpse” was held, the same buildings all around the park. The new construction at random in the better neighborhoods speaks well for the current state of the economy and the strength of the Uruguayan peso compared to the U.S. dollar. At the airport, I got 18+ pesos for my dollars when I exchanged currency. The last time I’d visited, just a few years earlier, the exchange rate was 28 pesos to the dollar.

The course on toxins produced by blue-green algae I helped teach at the University of the Republic went very well. There were about 60 registered attendees from Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, and Colombia, 46 scheduled contact hours (but a lot longer for the students taking the laboratory practical portion of the course), over a 5-day period from Monday to Friday. My lectures (presented in English with slides I prepared in Spanish) were well attended and went smoothly. Thanks to the improved version of Google Translator now available, it was easy to do the bulk of translating by computer followed by very careful proofreading.

The other guest faculty member was from Rio de Janiero. She lectured in Portuguese. It was the first time I ever listened to several hours of classes back to back in Portuguese, and I was pleased to find myself understanding a lot more than I expected to. A highlight was a “for-fun final exam”, played after the real exam, set up as a three-team competition in “Jeopardy” format. The students really got into that part of the course.

Saturday afternoon the world was put on hold for 3.5 hours to watch the under-20 FIFA World Cup Football (Soccer) Championship match between France and Uruguay from Istanbul, Turkey. I refereed youth soccer for about ten years here in Northern California while my sons were growing up, so I know the rules, which impressed my hosts quite a bit. France finally won a 0-0 match (two overtimes) by a score of 4-1 on penalty kicks (“penals” in Spanish). It was an exciting event for the Uruguayans, who had never done better than fourth place in previous World Cup under-20 competitions.

The author is generously giving one reader an e-copy of his short story The Dog With No Name. Simply leave a comment on this post no later than Monday, April 27th at 11:59pm EST telling us if you've traveled to South America or have attended a dog show. Be sure to leave your e-mail address so that I may contact you should you win, along with your preferred e-reader format!


  1. sadly, I have done neither....tho I'm more interested in visiting South America....

    cyn209 at juno dot com

  2. Uruguay and Argentina, at least in the major cities, are in many ways more like visiting Europe (Italy and Spain) a generation ago than South America. Tropical South America (Brazil, Bolivia, and Peru northwards) is much more interesting culturally. Definitely worth adding to one's bucket list!

  3. I have never traveled to any of the countries in South America, although I have been told Rio de Janeiro is one place to go during Carnival. I've attend a very small dog show that was held at a local college. My husband threatened he wouldn't take me to any more if I didn't quit trying to take home one of each variety. lol! Your trip sounded interesting too.

  4. I have never been to South America, but I have been to some local dog shows. The dogs have always been so beautiful.


  5. Congratulations Mary Preston. You are the winner of the e-book!