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Published: January 19th 2009
Amazing moonlight at Santa Theresa. You could see everything.
I jumped ship from everyone else in La Paloma, and headed up to Punta del Diablo by myself, not really knowing what to expect. I showed up and had to spend the next few hours going from hotel to hotel looking for a room. Every single one was booked full for the next few days, if not weeks or month. Finally, after several hours of searching, I found one where someone had canceled so I was able to spend the night and take a look around the city. It is a ton of cabanas running along the rocky coastline, with many more behind it in a more organized grid. There is a single main street running down to the ocean front, then heading across the back of it, turning more into a pedestrian boardwalk with the occasional car. Off to the other side of the beach is a huge boardwalk with tons of little vendors and some of the best seafood empenadas. In general, the food in town was phenomenal and cheap, which was completely unexpected. Along the main street there are tons of small stands, offering Asian woks and tacos, which were amazing. However, the best food has to go
to a tiny red shop, shaped like a boat, which had amazing fried calamari, burgers, and ice cold beer.
The city is crazy laid back and a great place just to relax. There are quite a few bars that go all night, but it is a far way from the ridiculous clubs in La Paloma, which was appreciated! To give a descriptive anecdote, I was walking back from the beaches after one sunset and came along a live band playing at a bar along the boardwalk/road behind the main beach. The on lookers were dancing in the street, moving out of the way for the occasional car. Eventually we (I joined in immediately) weren´t moving out of the way fast enough, and a line formed. Shortly there after, a cop came, to tell the band to stop. Well, the crowd wasn´t having any of that. So, the band played a few more songs, the cop car stayed where it was waiting for the crowd to disperse and for the band to wrap up its set; meanwhile, the line of cars behind the cops grew to somewhere near twenty. Many of the drivers simply got out and joined the throngs
of people dancing in the street. Yeah, it was a pretty laid back place.
I couldn´t find a single room open on the second night I was in town, so I made a reservation at one place for three nights away and figured I´d rough it camping in nearby Santa Theresa. Burton showed up at the last second, we bought a tarp and some rope at the hardware store, a few snacks and a bottle of wine to help us sleep, and then we got walking. It is a two kilometer walk down the beach and along the rocky shoreline to a small ridge where the scene opens up to an enormous bay with large wind caused white capped waves filling it. Another kilometer of walking down the nearly deserted, fifty feet wide, white sand beach and you come to the first of many campsites in Santa Theresa park. We clambered on in and started looking for a place to throw up our tarp amidst the innumerable other campers. I´ve never seen a more packed camp grounds, other than at Bonnaroo. We were looking at one spot, pretty near to another family, wondering if it would be okay to
camp so close to them, even though there wasn´t another option, when they approached us. At first they weren´t too happy about the prospect of having new neighbors, but when we said it was just the two of us for two nights, they were more than welcoming. Laughingly, we pondered exactly what we could do with one tarp to form some sort of campsite. It didn´t seem as easy once we were there, but it was actually an incredible shelter... for the first night. It blocked the wind, provided some nice cover in the morning sun, and was really easy. We were proud. Bear Grylls eat your heart out... Then the second night came. We were walking back from the fort, from which the National Park derives its name (which was actually really impressive, with enormous walls and perfectly preserved, or restored, grounds), when we felt the first rain showers. It was the first, and only, rain we had in our three weeks in Uruguay. Then I remembered those scenes from Man vs. Wild where Bear is sitting in some ridiculous shelter he constructed with a shoe lace and some leaves, freezing cold, dripping wet, complaining of not sleeping and
of being eaten by bugs. That is what we were looking at, until the family next to us came running up saying they had an unused tent for that night and that we were welcome to sleep in it. (As I said in my last blog, the Uruguayans are the most generous and accommodating people!)
So, we weathered the unexpected storm well and headed back into Punta del Diablo the next day. We checked into Nativos, a great restaurant/hotel/bar where we had reservations and cleaned up a bit. Drew and Eric came up for the day, we gave them the requisite five minute tour and went to grab some delicious munchies. Later that night we headed out and had a great night on the town, actually meeting some other backpackers out of the blue while waiting for our tacos at one of the street stalls. They were the first backpackers we had met since we came into Uruguay so we partied with them for the night and appreciated speaking English again. We left the uber-chilled out scene we had been soaking up in Diablo and headed for Punta del Este which proved to be the opposite extreme, but equally
No Dogs, No Guns.
I mean... Really?
amazing, beach life.
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