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Published: February 22nd 2010
Punta del Diablo
Days 22 - 27
Due to the way I had planned the trip, I knew I would have some spare days between seeing the falls and meeting up with Nath and Dean in Salvador for carnival. I was unsure where to go or what to do during this time and nobody had recommended anything that really stood out, so I decided to meet Kate (the Aussie girl who I met in Florianopolis) in Uruguay for a few days which meant I would see a familiar face for my birthday on the 3rd. Having only met Kate for a few hours on the last morning in Florianopolis, I was now going to spend the next few days with a complete stranger in the hope that you share an experience which forms another part of the puzzle.
The 14 hour bus journey to Concordia (on the Argentine border) passed reasonably quickly and when I was dropped at the side of the road in literally the middle of nowhere, a middle aged lady in a beaten up old car that had the remains of a taxi sign on its roof, came to my rescue. This lady couldn’t speak a word of English
Punta del Diablo
which meant the 30 minute ride to the border crossing was rather quiet, however having obviously done this hundreds of times before, she took control, led me into the immigration office and had the necessaries done to the passport. She took me into Uruguay, collecting her fare at the bus station as I’d hoped I’d agreed. Thanks little old lady, not sure how I’d have done that without you!
Having told Kate I would meet her at our hostel in the early evening, it soon became clear that I would be late…very late! The next available bus heading in the direction I wanted to go was going to take 6 hours and wasn’t until 13:00, or a 4 hour wait. I would then have to change buses in Montevideo for the final 4 hours to Punta del Diablo, where I was eventually let off the bus at 01:00, a full 32 hours after embarking at the falls. Now I really feel I am travelling!
Little did I know but Punta del Diablo is a tiny little town, popular with the hippy community. The roads aren’t paved and the street names virtually unheard of, which wasn’t very helpful for
me as all I had was an address. After 45 minutes of aimlessly walking around, I got to a hostel with a Swedish guy I had befriended and asked the owner for some help. He wasn’t sure, but pointed me in the ‘right’ direction, which to his credit was correct, finally stumbling into a local who for some unexplained reason just blurted the hostel name at me and then kindly led me to it. I would have struggled to find Elida Elena hostel in the bright sunshine, so you can image how I felt at 02:00 in the morning! This was the first time that things hadn’t quite gone right on the trip so far and I wondered how I would react to these situations when I was preparing to come away. Now it has happened, my reaction was just to laugh - this is what I have signed up to so not point complaining - all part of the fun and things have a habit of working out all right in the end. I hope I can still say this in 13 months time!
So having met Kate in the small hours, we were up quite early and
View from Hostel
Birthday afternoon...the rain came
went to the beach to make the most of the sunshine. This was the first time I had spent my birthday on the beach - I hope its not my last! The rain came mid afternoon so drinks were taken back in the hostel before going out for some dinner in the evening. I don’t think I’ll have my birthday in Punta del Diablo again but it was an interesting way to spend it…thanks Kate for a good day!
The next day we decided to leave this strange little hippy retreat, which I think would have been so much nicer had the weather been good and the roads/paths not flooded and filthy. A pipe also burst in our hostel which was pretty much the nail in the coffin…we wanted civilization again, which we got in the shape of Punta del Este, 2 hours west along the coast. When we got off the bus we thought it was more our scene - the roads were paved for a start - however on closer inspection it was beach resort town and reminded me of places in Spain . Not what I had come away for. We stayed at the F&F Guesthouse
View from Hostel
Birthday afternoon...the rain came
which was a converted house and really quite nice, run by a couple of guys who seemed more interested in partying with the guests than actually making a profit…although I’m sure they did that too as the place was pretty expensive - again, not what I came away for! We met up with a couple of Aussie guys, Myles and Andrew and sat around the patio table having a few beers and doing the normal introductions, which do get a bit tedious - I don’t mind hearing other peoples stories, I just get bored of telling mine over and over again - I’m thinking of getting a t-shirt printed and wearing it wherever I check into.
The next day we went for a walk around town, which consisted mainly of hotels, cafes, restaurants and designer shops, which are hard not to go into at times, especially when you wouldn’t think twice if you were actually on holiday. We had some seafood for lunch at the port and then continued our lazy stroll around the peninsular, stopping and sitting for a good hour on the wharf, watching people and the world go by, which was really relaxing. I’m glad we got
Sober as always
out and did this as I was more than happy chilling at the beach all day, but I suppose I have to make the most of places, even if I don’t really like them - it‘s certainly not very likely that I‘ll revisit here. That evening was again spent chilling out with a few beers, listening to an American guy, Bronson, play a few covers on his guitar before he went to play a gig in town. We opted to stay in, opened a bottle of vodka and then joined in with the owners and a group of Chileans and Argentineans ’play’ drinking games, consisting of the rest of the group singing a song (in Spanish…obviously) then shouting tu pa tu pa tu pa until the person with the drink has downed it. Not very original, but when the drink was half vodka, half mixer, the desired affect was achieved. Cooper would have approved!!
There is not much else to say about Punta del Este. If you like commercial beach resorts then this place is ideal, though quite a long way from the UK - I’m sure a better experience would be had in France or Spain. I’m sure
there are better/cheaper places further along the coast and had the weather been more favourable, I am sure my experience would have been more positive.
I don’t for one minute regret making the detour to Uruguay, however I don’t think it will live too long in the memory either. I guess the lesser experiences are part of the process and I don’t expect to discover amazing place after amazing place. Having said that, I hope that the opposite occurs, whereby I accidentally stumble across real gems of places…and I‘m sure I will appreciate them all the more after this encounter!
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