Most visitors to South America don’t place Uruguay very high on their list of priorities, and perhaps it’s understandable. There’s lots to see down here where the toilets flush counter-clockwise: Macchu Picchu astounds, Buenos Aires enchants, and Rio (though I haven’t been) amazes, if just for the photos of very skimpy bikinis on Brazilian bodies. (Alliteration, anyone?)
I would like to cast my vote for Uruguay. Though we didn’t have much time to explore, I was thoroughly impressed by what I saw. Impressed enough, actually, to consider the country for when I (tentatively) decide to return to South America next September.
We took the Buquebus ferry from Buenos Aires to Montevideo-for all of you folks out there thinking I’ve been kicking it in the 3rd World, the Buquebus is the fastest commercial ferry on Earth.
The trip there was pretty uneventful-after a brief stop in the capital city of Montevideo, we continued on to Punta del Diablo. You may have heard of this town’s more high-profile counterpart-Punta del Este is a “world-class” beach resort a la Ibiza or Phuket.
Punta del Diablo is way more up my alley-totally laid back beach vibe. If you were going to contrast the two using musicians as adjectives, it would be Jack Johnson and Daft Punk. I prefer the former any day of the week. PdD (us Americans need acronyms for everything) is a small fishing village that just started embracing tourism about 10 years ago. It’s one of those places that hasn’t made it into the Lonely Planet yet-the kind of spot you just have to catch at the right time.
Another plus is that most visitors are Argentine. It was really interesting to get to know Porteños outside of Buenos Aires. I made more Argentine friends in a week in Uruguay than I have in three months in Buenos Aires. I guess sun and the beach will do that to you.
One of the best parts of the trip was our accommodation. My mom works with a Uruguayan-American, and her mother-prepare for randomness-owns a cabaña resort in Punta del Diablo. Though unfortunately she couldn’t be there, her staff showed us incredible hospitality.
We made tons of friends at the local hostel. A 26 year old American guy named Brian opened up El Diablo Tranquilo (the Calm Devil) last year, and the place has found tons of success. Maybe a bit too much success, in fact-things seem to be really stressful. I used to dream of opening up a hostel down here (and coincidentally, my name was always Tranquilo), but after seeing how crazy the day to day grind is, I’m glad i gave it up. Maybe someday?
Most of our time was spent soaking up fierce primals, but we tried surfing one day as well. The last time I’d done it was Australia back in 2004-maybe I’ve lost some skill in my old age, but I didn’t come close to standing up this time.
We also threw a raging asado-about 10 folks from the hostel came and ate, drank, smoked, and talked late into the night.
All in all, the trip was a blast. Being back in Buenos Aires now makes me itch to get back on the road. I’ve settled into a somewhat boring routine here of work and play, and there’s so much to see in Argentina. We’re making plans for Cordoba and Rosario, and there are other ideas in the mix as well. We’re definitely meeting up near the Iguazu Falls in 2 weeks, and after that Patagonia. Yeeeeehaw!