Published: February 2nd 2012January 19th 2012
Chao Buenos Aires, bienvenido Uruguay!
Checked out of our apartment in the early morning, and after a harrowing taxi run, caught our BusqueBus ferry to Colonia. Heard this place is pretty amazing, but we were already heading to Punta del Este by bus. Although pretty tired, we passed along some gorgeous countryside, with vast green fields, eucalyptus and pine trees, and quaint villages using horse and trailer carriage to get around. Dosing in and out, we made it to Punta del Este by early afternoon. As we approached the city, I noticed some of the pijo qualities we were bound to encounter. All the billboards had ads promoting beautiful people, high class accomodations, and other ritzy elements. Ballers on a budget, we knew we could make it work...
On arrival, equipped with an address and minimal directions, we attempted to find our hostel. After second and third guessing ourselves, we asked a few different people where a certain street was; half the people were visiting tourists like ourselves, and the other half had never heard of the street. Eventually, we talked to someone who asked the name of the hostel we were staying and pointed it out, 2 blocks
Punta del Este
The clothes come to you!
from the bus terminal...Awesome.
This being the first hostel we would stay at during this 5 month adventure, we didn´t know what to expect. The reviews online sounded awesome so it should be excellent right?! The staff was very nice, and showed us around the hostel and to our room - a 6x14x12 ft room with 6 beds, stacked 3 high in line with each other. It´s really too bad I didn´t get take a photo of it. Regardless, as Chloe fretted, I kept the mood high, telling her to take the bottom bunk and that the only time we would be in there would be to sleep! To myself, I pondered if the next 5 months would be this cramped...sh*t.
After putting our backpacks down (and taking up half the walkway between the wall and the beds), we started trekking around the town, which was packed full of tourists, the majority being Argentine. Wandering between tourist trinket shops, clothing stores, and boutiques, I noticed my stomach grumbling for food so we booked it back in the direction of the hostel, away from the more expensive prominade. We ended up at a cool looking parilla (bbq) spot, close
to the hostel. Not really knowing what we were getting into, and not having showered, but being very hungry at 11pm, we sat down. We sat next to the grill where the chef, who happened to be the owner as well, chatted us up and explained all the different cuts of meat that on paper, were completely lost to me. We ended up having an amazing meal, between an asado, a few different empanadas, salad, and a bottle of wine; costing us around $40. As we had been walking around before, we realized they didn´t take credit cards and we didn´t have enough cash to pay for the meal (currencies get confusing sometimes, in Uruguay its 20-1). So, I left Chloe at the table and fast walked through the streets trying to find an ATM. After denied at the bus station and the casino since they were out of money, I finally found one on the same expensive prominade we were on earlier that day. By this time Chloe had been sitting by herself for over a half hour...I started jogging back with my full pocket and flip flops, arriving half sweating to the parilla, where upon the waiter chuckled
and brought a bottle of cold water with no questions. I had been gone for about 45 minutes and Chloe had been asked by numerous men if she was ok, as if she had been ditched by her date! The owner bought us a couple shots of a local liquor, where upon we thanked him and the staff, paid and headed back to the hostel.
As it turns out, the hostel holds a pretty good party with their built in bar. Chloe was pretty cansada so she tried going to bed while 30 or so 19 year olds (mostly girls) laughed and drank on the rooftop patio adjacent to our room. Knowing myself, I couldn´t let a fun opportunity like this pass me by. So I bought some cerveza from the bar, and started chatting with some Chileans; many of whom once finding out I was from the US, wanted to try and speak English with me. Fortunately for Chloe, the hostel guys had brought everyone down from the roof so the dorm rooms and the neighboors could try and sleep. I decided soon there after, around 3:30am, to let the single guys have their fun and went to
Punta del Este
Chloe back in her element!
bed in my 6 bed closet.
The next day, Chloe and I headed to the beach. As it turns out, the sun is extremely powerful and the water is very cold in Punta del Este. Even though you would be boiling, you couldn´t hang out in the water for longer than a few minutes; interesting contrast. So, the next few days consisted of relaxing on the swealtering beach packed full of sunbathers and people selling various clothing, drinks, and empanadas. Although Chloe may have become a confirmed addict to sunscreen, we both agreed we may have tanned ourselves a little too fast. The nights basically repeated themselves, and I noticed that the hostel bar attracted a local crowd; which in this case turned out to be not so cool - skeezy guys and a girl who seemed to be a groupie to the hostel guys, adding to this she was over 30 with a kid...In Punta del Este, I guess people don´t go out to the clubs until 4am, and don´t come back until hours past the sunrise. I guess I could have rocked that schedule when I was 19 and single, but times have changed for me I
Punta del Este beaches, watch out!
guess. Damn I am old?!
Moving on to Punta del Diablo was a relief. Although Punta del Este had some nice beaches and a decent nightlife, it felt like a small city that was trying hard to be upscale, without really accomplishing it. As we approached Punta del Diablo, we could see the hoards of backpackers at the dirt lot bus terminal, soacked to the bone after the downpour we had just drove through. Checking into our hostel after a short drive through a muddy dirt road, we noted we had booked a good one. With a big property overlooking the small town and beach 1 minute away, swimming pool and good sized bar accompanying it. I laughed when we entered our 10 bed dorm room. Not because it was a closet like our last one; it was big, with its own kitchen and bathroom. I laughed since I was the only boy in the room, the rest being more 18-21 year old Argentine and Chilean girls. As it turned out, the hostel only had about 3% of the 120 beds occupied by guys! Holy estrogen here we come!
Punta del Diablo turned out to be a pretty
The best in the world - Messi, Rolandinho, and Forlan (we were in Uruguay, they had to add him...)
cool hippy surfer pueblo, with 2 decent sized beaches separated by sand dunes. The centro consisted of a 3 block curved dirt road with local merchants, street vendors and pescadarias (fresh fish shops). The next couple days were almost routine - breakfast, beach, a caipirinha or beer with lunch, back to the beach to play in the waves, cheap dinner consisting of a chivito and fries (or salad for Chloe), some more drinks at the hostel and then bed around 2 am. More than once I was quoted saying, ¨This is the live ain´t it?!¨ Chloe on the other hand said maybe we should buy some property and live here part of the year...We obviously really enjoyed the vibe! Unfortunately, our time to leave came too soon, and were off to Montevideo. Or so we thought...
After loading onto the bus, we noticed a couple women in our seats, so we took a pair a few rows back. Naturally, we were in someone´s seat. By this time the bus was already rolling down the road. We asked the women in our seats if they were in the correct seats, and it seemed as though we were double booked! So,
upon asking the driver about the situation, he looked at my ticket and said we had tickets for the following day. Son of a...there were no empty seats , so our options were to stand for 5 hours or hop off. Hop off we did, and walked the 2 miles back to the bus top in 30 degree weather in 80% humidity! Maybe we were meant to stay here, but our hostel was already booked and we had a flight to catch 2 days later to Patagonia. We bought new tickets and took off in our approved seats a few hours later. Check the ticket after you buy it, idiot!
Montevideo was cool, kind of like a smaller Buenos Aires without all the dog crap everywhere. I found a burrito spot that was set up in a Chipotle fashion, where you choose your ingredients. It was a delicious change of pace from all the empanadas, pizzas, and chivitos I had been eating since arriving. As it turns out, a friend of Chloe had started the chain that now exists in 4 countries in South America. Genius idea...Our time in Montevideo was pretty uneventful, but we used it as a
jumping off point to somewhere very exciting - PATAGONIA!!
There are more photos below