Published: March 9th 2012March 8th 2012
After another hefty bus journey we reached Torres, another beach resort with big waves, but decided we´d skip its attractions and use it as a pit stop on our way inland to the mountains. After a night in the fairly-unhomely Resio Medusa, we got a bus to Praia Grande, which, despite meaning "big beach" can be found about 20km inland. Not only were we most definitely the only gringoes in town, but we were also the only ones who spoke English. After eventually working out that the bus didn´t leave until the following day and presuming that there would be nowhere to stay we headed to the tourist/taxi office to see how we could make it to the big draw of the area, Parque Nacional de Aparados da Serra. After a lot of writing down numbers, one of their guys said he would take us to the park for a reasonablish fee. He turned out to be one of the nicest people and we got on quite well, despite the fact that his only English was "beautiful girls" (when referring to Carnaval) and our only Portuguese was still pretty much "obrigado" (thank you). He turned out to be our guide at
the national park and we went on a trail atop Itaimbezinho (as cool and long as it sounds), the second deepest water-filled canyon in the world.
It was extraordinary. Google it. Sheer white cliffs delve into an amazingly deep ravine and our pictures don't really do justic to the size of it. We continued to communicate with our driver (to this day we still don't know his name) with whistles, grunts and obrigados, and ended up getting a lift to Cambara do Sul to stay the night. Our pousada was the nicest we'll stay at and we met Luis there, a Bolivian who lives in Germany and speaks three languages, who persuaded us to go on a walk up the inside of the canyon. It was another awesome experience as we witnessed the size of nature, discovered tubing without tubes and saw, amongst other things, a host of waterfalls, a snake, a pineapple and a humungous wild tarantula that was really rather wicked.
The following morning, after a lie in to catch up on some sleep, we went to the local rodeo, or rodeio, as they call it. We arrived in time to see a version of the
bucking bronco with horses, that was fun, and stood with people dressed in ridiculous outfits eating copious amounts of meat off a caveman-like wooden stake.
We left Cambara and took four buses to get to our next proper destination, Punta del Diablo in Uruguay, the third of which we went first class because it was the only one left and actually got some sleep.
After crossing the Uruguayan border with no arrests or abductions, we hit Punta del Diablo at about 9 in the morning, surrounded by immense quiet, apart from the waves. We found a hostel and hit the beach, enjoying another good day of body-surfing, a more refined act than most people give credit for. Punta del Diablo is a wild but chilled out place that consists of surfers and fishermen predominantly. The coast resembles that of Cornwall, and as we were to find out the day after, so did the weather. We stayed another day at another beach tending to more insect bites and sunburn, gearing up for a walk up the coast into the national park.
The walk started in the clouds and within ten minutes it had started raining. We got wetter
and wetter, the lightning (which was an intriguing shade of red) arrived and heard the biggest crack of thunder ever. Our guide led us to a fisherman's hut, who was very friendly, although we had no idea what he was saying (the limited Spanish we do know is pretty much pointless considering the speed they talk at over here). After drying off slightly, we went to a turtle sanctuary and learnt a bit about there conservation, an interesting topic.
A later-than-planned bus from Punta del Diablo took us to Montevideo where we finally found a hotel after a while searching. On the metaphorical menu this morning was a bit of sleep. The literal menu, at around about lunchtime, provided us with obscenely large steaks at the Mercado del Puerto, a place vegetarians would shrink in horror at. It consists of about twenty steak houses all under one, corrugated-iron roof. We followed this by a (slow) walk along the waterfront and a look at the city's (slightly limited) attractions.
The plan was to stay at Colonia tomorrow but I think we're going to stay to get our first taste of Latin American football in a Montevidean derby tomorrow, before
heading over to Buenos Aires the following day. Exciting times.
No videos due to slow upload, maybe next time...if you´re lucky.
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