M/Cing to SA: Uruguay
We’re basically never happy. Going up Peru’s coast, we yearned for something other than desert. In the Altiplano, we would have killed for temperatures above 50F and altitudes below 10,000ft.. In Brazil we were dieing of 93F and endless manicured fields. So now we were convinced the Atlantic would be something different. And Uruguay would be much better than…wherever we are at the moment : )
We plotted our route south from the Iguacu Falls over a bottle of vino blanco: south through the very northern tip of Argentina, make a hard left after 250 miles and sprint across the very lower part of Brazil to the coastal town of Pelotas, Brazil. From there, ride down the coast of Brazil and enter Uruguay at the Chuy border town. Then, take Rutas 9/10/15/10/9/1 south along the coast, hitting all the little coastal towns between the border and Montevideo. After a bottle of vino blanco, it sounded like a plan to us.
We hauled freight for three days as we flew down Argentina and then crossed Brazil. Our freight hauling was made all the easier for KR because of two recent innovations: (1) A pillow. Talk about a “duh” moment, KR’s butt was starting to hurt and she came up with this wonderful addition to NV. Worked like a charm; and (2) Better living through chemistry, in this case we bought high power muscle relaxers for Karen’s back and the pain she’s been dealing with for weeks suddenly went away. I had a smile in my rear view mirror once again.
We rolled into Chuy to cross into Uruguay early one morning with absolutely no anxiety. That’s what seven border crossings and countless Immigration, Customs and Police bureaucrats will do to you — dumb down your senses. It helps that the last several crossings have been in remote, out-of-the-way towns where the the sharpest bureaucrats in the box probably aren’t sent for duty. But, once you’ve bribed a couple of officials, made “critical” mistakes that turned out not to be critical, and had all the bad luck and poor timing possible, you just learn to deal with it. And so we have and so we did at yet another crossing.
Ever since we made the decision to head to Buenos Aires sooner than later, we haven’t given any of the country we’ve passed through its due. We’re in too much of a self-imposed hurry. Same thing for Uruguay’s coast, but this time we did get the feel for three different kinds of beach towns.
First up was the one closest to our hearts, Punta del Diablo, a rundown, laid-back, party till you can’t crawl down the beach any longer, beautiful, rustic little town hard on the rocks 250 miles north of Montevideo. Streets are mud and sand, all the “buildings” are lean-tos or something equally sturdy. I especially liked it as this was the off season and 90% of the vacation rentals were empty. Only a few oddball tourists like ourselves and the year rounders were around. Letting one’s hair down isn’t an issue in Punta del Diablo…
Next up was the exact opposite; the coast around Punta del Este is one of the places where the rich and famous play. Huge, dramatic homes command sweeping views of the ocean and beach. Art galleries and furniture boutiques out number any other type of retail establishment. We spent a wonderful morning at a french cafe in Jose Ignacio, sipping coffee (or Chardonay depending on which seat of NV one occupied), checking email, and browsing the jewelry shops. Here the strange looks we got were not what we were use to — strange and wondrous — but strange in the sense of… who are these grungy looking people and why are they here?
Finally, we stayed overnight in an example of Beaches Past: Piriapolis. Named for its Italian founder, Piriapolis is the resort you’d love to go to … in the 1970s! Lots of stylish buildings past their sell by dates, a proud town history that few care about any longer, and few people even our age tend to make one feel like we missed the good times . And the room wasn’t even cheap!
Our final day in Uruguay was spent in Colonia, a Carmel-by-the-Sea kinda place except its not by the sea but the Rio de la Plata. Cobble stone streets, really really old buildings, outside cafes left and right, and interesting old cars parked about, all make for a favorite day trip for Argentinians, just across the river by ferry. We dug deep and stayed in a really expensive hotel, wondered the streets looking in all the shops, and sipped wine and nibbled on cheese to our hearts content. Which for me was about an hour and a half and I was wondering what the ferry schedule was like. KR, being the laid back person she is, lasted a whole afternoon before she was thinking ferry as well.
Buenos Aires here we come!
What – no surfing! The river looks dirty but the scenery is awesome. The expensive house just goes to prove, once again, that lots of money doesn’t necessarily equate to lots of taste. Be safe and keep writing!