Published: February 24th 2009February 22nd 2009
As of yesterday, I can officially say I’ve been to Uruguay! I went with ISA on a day trip to Colonia del Sacramento, a tiny city on the coast that’s only a three hour ferry ride away from Buenos Aires. It was declared a UNESCO world heritage site back in the 1990s.
The whole city is full of quaint architecture and cobblestone streets—a refreshing change from life in the big city. There are a lot of shops run by local artisans (and a lot of tourist trap shops as well), so the main thing we did was eat and shop.
When I heard we were going to take a ferry, I figured our seat would be a lawn chair on an open air deck, but this ferry was substantially more comfortable. There was a mini-arcade, a duty-free shop, places to buy food, and comfy seats. Since we had first class tickets, our seats were a bit bigger and comfier. I had more room on the ferry than on my 9 hour flight to Buenos Aires (Delta, take notes from Buquebus!). They also had shows in the dining area. The ferry was huge, but since it was windy and the
Buenos Aires from the ferry
water was a bit choppy, the ship did its fair share of pitching and rolling. Our ferry was an hour late getting in because they had trouble anchoring due to the wind. As a result, we only had around 5 hours in the city.
We had a city tour to teach us about the history of Colonia, but between taking pictures and feeling like my stomach would eat itself (it was past 2:00 and I ate breakfast at 7:00) I didn’t catch too much of it. I’ve found that I can’t multitask if I want to understand Spanish—I really need to focus on the person who is speaking in order to understand! So while I wish I could tell you more about the lovely history of Colonia, I got too hungry and decided to ditch the tour with some friends in order to eat. The meal was worth it. I got homemade raviolis, complete with fresh pesto sauce and a drink, for u$s11. It was a meal that probably would have cost at least $25 a plate back home.
While shopping, I finally found a mate! My host mom never drinks mate, so I want to learn how
to prepare it myself since I’d like to have it every now and then. (I miss having tea!) I have this odd but simple dream to become a regular mate drinker. But before I use my mate I have to learn how to cure it. I think it involves letting yerba mate (the tea) sit in the mate (the gourd) for a day, and then scraping out all the soft material. I read that this process may have to be repeated for several days until your mate is ready to use. If you don’t cure it, it affects the taste of the tea. I’m hoping to consult a regular mate drinker tomorrow and figure this process out.
Since the mate (really, the prospect of future mate drinking) is the only thing remotely interesting to retell about shopping, I’ll let the pictures of Colonia speak for themselves...once I get them posted! (I’ve found it takes a long time to load them, so I’m doing it a little at a time.)
Other than the trip to Colonia, this past week was pretty quiet. I went to Mataderos, a barrio on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, last Sunday. On Sundays there’s
View from the top of a lighthouse
a feria with different vendors in the center of the barrio. While the feria there has been billed as a “must-see,” I thought it wasn’t all that thrilling. It was pretty small, and while there were some nice artisan stalls, others were more like a garage sale or had cheap manufactured items. The little museo in town was worth a visit though. However, Mataderos is a definitely a place that I wouldn’t go wandering around past dark. We talked to a local woman who said insecurity and crime is a problem, especially after soccer games at the local field, or “cancha” as it’s called.
As a heads up, this may be my last entry for a while. On Friday I’ll be headed to Ushuaia and then El Calafate. Both cities are in the southern region of Argentina, known as Patagonia, and have amazing scenery. Ushuaia is the southernmost city in the world, and El Calafate is near Parque Nacional Los Glaciares, home to the famous Moreno Glacier. So I’ll post some pictures of glaciers, snowcapped mountains, and maybe even a penguin or two for all of you when I return.
There are more photos below