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Published: June 30th 2012
Monday 14th May 2012 - Buenos Aires to Colonia, Uruguay
We've been home over 2 weeks now and so it's well over a month since we made the ferry crossing across the Rio Del Plata. As expected I got slack towards the end but with 4 more weeks still to write about, the job's not finished yet. Maybe I'll have forgotten any of the bad bits and will write a cheery account or maybe the hum drum monosyllabic petty pace from day to day, to quote Macbeth, will bring me back to earth with a thud. Anyhow, enough of the crap, we bused it to near the port in BA which left us a nice 1 mile yomp along the mean streets with our 18kg back packs plus my 7kg book bag, which pleased Stacie greatly on this most hot and sunny of mornings. BA ferry port was high calibre and we were impressed. The River Plate was a dirty brown colour and the crossing took an hour before we arrived in Uruguay at a rustique Colonia del Sacramento, the picture postcard destination of this country of 3 million people that have won more Copa Americas than both Argentina and
Brazil. 5 hostels later and we managed to find somewhere to stay in a town and country that would prove to be the most expensive place to visit in all of South America. Our next door room mates were Ed and Lucy, who'd brought along their 6 month old son Ruben who'd donned his backpack shortly after the cord had been cut. A lovely english couple but I'm not so sure I'd have placed my trust in the Argentine health service with my first born like they had. We only had 1 night in Colonia so we had to make the most of it and toured the town which didn't take too long. The highlight of this once Portuguese smuggling settlement was climbing the lighthouse for a grand view of the place. A nice town all in all but we didn't think quite deserving of the rave reviews we'd been given on it.
Tuesday 15th May 2012 - Colonia to Montevideo
Maybe the biggest joy of Uruguay is that it's a small place, the buses are fantastic and the journeys are therefore short and pleasant. Also musn't forget that Uruguayans are nothing like Argies which is rather refreshing
when trying to cross the road. A couple of hours later and we were entering into the capital of Montevideo which I'm sure could easily be mistaken for an old eastern bloc city with its grey unimaginative architecture. For people and guide books to compare it favourably to Buenos Aires is a complete myth with it being as different as New York is to Moscow. Nevertheless, despite the drowsy buildings, it's a nice place and with the far friendlier and more laid back townsfolk is much more welcoming than other places we'd visited. A trip into the Days Inn next to the bus station was followed by a quick retreat after being quoted $100 a night which the receptionist suggested was a fair price in this 3rd world country. Instead we took another bus into the centre of town at Independence Square and signed up for a few nights in Hotel Palacio, a nice enough lodging with a classic 1920s gated elevator.
Wednesday 16th May 2012 - Montevideo
I'd made the call to our new Uruguayan friends in Rocha who we'd met on the Salt Flats of Bolivia and perhaps reluctantly they'd suggested we come to their house
on Saturday. After making a grandiose gesture to put us up at his home and give us the keys to his beach apartment, in the back of our minds we always thought he didn't expect us to call and it was just a bit more bravado from another South American. Montevideo was small and it didn't take us long to tour the old quarters. The highlight for me was a trip to the Mercado del Puerto and a nice juicy Chovito, an egg and steak sandwich.
Thursday 17th May 2012 - Montevideo
With our weekend accommodation booked, it felt like we were a little in limbo hanging round the city so we whiled away the time walking aimlessly around the place, making ham and cheese sandwiches in our room and having repeated trips up and down on the antique elevator.
Friday 18th May 2012 - Montevideo to Piriapolis to Punta del Este
We'd heard Piriapolis was a nice quiet beach resort and just over an hour away from Montevideo but on arriving realised it was in fact a deathly silent beach resort that had more or less closed for the Winter and we'd be sleeping on
the beach if we were to stay here. After realising I'd left my credit card in the machine back at the Montevideo bus terminal and after making some frantic calls to get it sent to me, we hopped on a bus down the road to the world famous, well famous in Uruguay anyway, beach resort of Punta del Este and home to some of the biggest posers you'll ever come across. Only thing was they too were hibernating for the winter and I can only imagine what big posers they might be. We secured bedding in the only hostel open in town and after repeated trips back and forth to the bus station to get my credit card back along with a short pitstop at BK, we hit the sack for the night.
Saturday 19th May 2012 - Punta del Este to Rocha
A quick 5 minute walk along the lovely beach in Punta was unfortunately all we managed here as we returned to the hostel to wait for Carlos to come and take us to his home in Rocha and whilst waiting we were treated to the start of the Champions League final and a nasty road
traffic accident in front of our very eyes. Carlos and his lovely wife Elizabeth arrived shortly after the ambulance had disappeared and took us on a scenic route back to their home which involved driving along the coast to enjoy some of Uruguays many fantastic beaches which it is most definitely famous for. We think Carlos is 58 and one of the top surgeons in Uruguay and were therefore a little surprised to arrive at his brand new cribs style bachelor pad. A few hours later and some of the leading doctors in Uruguay had joined us with their sons for a rip roaring Asado (barbecue) around the campfire. The food and wine were amazing and we were treated to non stop Beatles classics all night in our honour by the multi talented guitar playing doctor families. 2 noteable moments were when Carlos Palacio, regarded as the top plastic surgeon in Uruguay and self proclaimed fanatic about anything English, went understandably bersek after I described a picture of his prized 1983 Land Rover Defender as "a nice jeep", good banter. The 2nd was after I politely declined the opportunity to go up on stage and sing along to a rendition
of Twist & Shout to which Palacio retorted, "oh, you're so English!". Having consumed a couple of bottles of vino it was suggested to me that now might be an opportune moment to go hit the sack.
Sunday 20th May 2012 - Rocha
A late start with a slightly heavy head ensued and we spent most of the day touring the local coasts of La Paloma in the back of Carlos' VW. In Uruguay it's sacrosanct to never eat dinner before 9.30pm which I found rather bizarre as we seemed to sit around twiddling our thumbs for a couple of hours hungry whilst we waited for the all clear which involved shovelling some takeaway pizza down us at about 9.31pm and then shortly after being told it was time to go to bed. Odd!
Monday 21st May 2012 - Rocha to Chuy or Chui in Brazil
We think having reluctantly followed through on their gracious invitation to their home they were now eager for us to continue our journey which meant jumping on a bus to the Brazilian border. Carlos was indeed a lovely man and I really do hope we get the opportunity to meet
him again some day. Unfortunately for us it meant we arrived in the crap hole border town of Chuy in the early afternoon and would be stranded here for a night as there were no more buses into the heart of Brazil.
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