Falling for Uruguay
04.06.2012 - 10.06.2012
We jumped across the border on an overnight bus from Buenos Aires to spend a bit of time travelling around Uruguay, which was a bit of a ploy to delay Spanish lessons for a little longer. We almost instantly fell in love with Montevideo, the capital, and then as our travels expanded over the rest of the country, we fell in love with Uruguay. It probably all started with the place we stayed, the place I'm also sitting now (although written there, this is being posted from Argentina), called 'Ukelele hostel' it's a huge beautiful old home in the middle of the city, with the nicest owners who just opened it up a month ago. I don't wanna to spend too much time describing our lodgings, but this place is easily the nicest hostel I've ever stayed. The owners Pati and Jope were way too good to us.
Second to the hostel was the food, Tamoura acted as a bit of a guide here (no surprise really) as she had read a little about the food and led us to a local 'chivitos' place which are essentially a crazy steak burger with more toppings than you can count on your fingers and these monsters were delicious. Second thing Tam let drop is that the uruguayan's are famous for their sweets, and hence started her addiction with alfajores, which are a kind of dulce de leche filled, chocolate covered cake/cookie.... No surprises she has been finding these all over town.
You can find them all over South America with each place having their own varieties. Empanadas are another delicous South American specialty we have been enjoying.
We visited the market in town which was less of a buy souvenirs or produce market and more of a MEAT market.
Argentina and Uruguay love meat and theres so much of it around. You would have trouble eating out here as a vegetarian. The meat market was restarants each with their own giant slanted grill covered in meat and every part of a cow you can think of.
We have really enjoyed walking around Montevideo, it has a beutiful mix of various styles and eras of architecture and art seems to find its place everywhere in this city. We had a wonderful day walking the coastline on the la rambla's stretch and could see how inviting those beaches might have been if the weather had been a little warmer. We visited Museums and the cemetary which was actually really beautiful, and sought out various bakeries and sweet stores and in short we loved everything about Montevideo.
When we left Montevideo we made our way up the coast to some beach towns which due to the season were more like ghost towns which had its appeal. THe coast was beautiful even if was cold. We stopped at two beachy towns then went to Cabo Polonio, the little hamlet on a peninsula of the coast surrounded by dunes.
Our first introduction to Cabo Polonio came after we got off the bus on the side of the road where we were told to wait for our next vehicle. After waiting a little while, a large 4wd truck arrived with seats in the tray and a tarp over the top. Our fellow passagers for the ride over the sand dunes were 2 locals, one quiet fisherman type, and the other was to be our entertainment for the bus ride. He too could have been described as a fisherman type (as could most locals in this village), except his shoes didnt match and he had a pension for yelling out about random things and then laughing histerically.
The ride was a quick and bumpy 30 minutes up and down sand dunes the whole time with the man with odd shoes was taking swigs of whisky out of a dog food bag and smacking the seat as hard as he could with an open palm as if to propel his steed over the oncoming dune. We enjoyed our introduction thoroughly and managed to find the little one room cottage we had rented for the next few days. After picking up the keys from another local, we had a chance to properly check out our surroundings. Cabo Polonio is a tiny little fishing/hippie village on uruguay's coast. It is not accesible by car, and the only way in is to walk or take the 4 wd bus, we chose the bus as with the alternate 8km on sand dunes with packs, it seemed an easy choice. There is no electricity or running water and the place was reccomended to us by a local uruguayan we met in our hostel. Our little hut was about 20 m off the ocean and we were able to watch sea lions and seals play from the kitchen window.
We went to the top of the lighthouse for a gorgeous view and got a birds eye view of the marine life below. THe next day we did the 10 km walk along the beach to the next village. We saw more seals and dolphins, and some cows grazing in the dune grass. Its a funny sight to see cows on the beach. the walk was absolutely gorgeous. We took our time enjoying the views and finally arrived in the next town after a few hours. After a exploring this quiet town we made our way back this time cutting across the giant dunes. Neither of us had ever experienced being on dunes like that.
We spent two nights in Cabo Polonio then caught a bus back to Montevideo, and back to Ukelele to hang out with Pati and Jope. We did a few day trips to nearby country towns with cobblestone streets and more pretty views.
Sam was hoping to catch a soccer match and Uruguay happened to be playing Peru the following Sunday so we stayed to see it. It was fun but no alcohol allowed. Since Im not exactly a sports fan the fun of going is having a beer and talking to people. But I still enjoyed it for the crowd and the boys singing and swearing behind us.
Next up, back to BA for some Spanish lessons.