After spending 4 days in the big city of Montevideo we felt it was time to hit the countryside and see what the Uruguayian coastline looked like. We took a 4 hour bus ride up to La Paloma with the hope that we would be able to catch some surfing in this sleepy little surf town. From all that we read this was to be a good place to hang out for a couple days and not pay the big city prices... lesson learned, don´t believe everything you read! It wasn´t that it was outrageously expensive or anything, it´s just that you pay big city prices (US$ 40 for a double room) to stay in a complete dump. We stayed at the Ibirahipa Hostel just off the main strip and were not impressed with the lack of cleanliness in the hostel. It was just plain disgusting! We ended up having a great time with the other guests due to the full day monsoon that rolled into town and kept us indoors. We haven´t seen rain and wind like that since Malaysia.
Having spent most of our time indoors in a dirty hostel we decided that La Paloma wasn´t for us and moved on to the infamous white sandy beach resort town of Punta del Este. And it did not disppoint! The best comparison would be that it is the Cancun of South America (see attached picture). We had a tough time finding cheap accomodation in this glitzy vacation destination but ending up finding a hostel with dorm rooms. There really isn´t much more to say about Punta del Este other than that it was very modern and chic with loads of desinger stores and high end restaurants, it has beautiful beaches and marinas, and it is filled with things to do. If you´re ever planning to visit Buenos Aires or Uruguay we´d highly recommend you put it on your itinerary!
Our 8 days in Uruguay was at its end, so it was time to make the long trek back to Colonia to catch the slow ferry back to Argentina. We arrived late in the evening and stayed another couple days in Buenos Aires before flying to Lima, Peru, which is where this blog is currently being written. We start our 10 GAP Adventure Tour of the Amazon Jungle, Cusco and the Sacred City, and of course the 4 day hike up the Inca Trail to Manchu Picchu tomorrow morning!
Hopefully will have some pictures posted as well but uploading pictures have been a challenge using Internet Cafes exclusively.
Argentina and Uruguay Observations from a Canadian Couple
We felt that rather than only spit out our travel path we should also comment on some of the strange and unique observations that we´ve had along the way.
- In Uruguay, garbage removal is done by horse and carriage
- The women are beautiful... the men look good too if your into that Futball player look alike... but there is an unbelievably high percentage of very good looking women.
- Dinner starts at 10:00 pm everynight and is typically done outdoors, either on a patio, in a courtyard, or even on the sidewalk of a cobblestone road.
- Beer is almost exclusively served in 1 litre bottles and is cheaper than bottled water.
- Cheese is put on almost everything, even corn on the cob!
- There is an usually high volume of weird looking vehicles made by unknown manufacturers... where do they all come from?!
- All drivers honk there horns regardless... this can mean "go ahead", "thank you", "I´m right beside you", "hurry up" or "go F-yourself"!
- 2 lane roads really mean 5 lane roads... and the middle line is just a guideline. As a passenger, you just have to hold your breath and go along for the ride... surprisingly there are very few car accidents.
- McDonalds is not a quick fill up like in North America. It is a full on destination for all types. The venues are HUGE with multiple floors and seating for hundreds. They look like mall food courts with ice cream counters, McCafe espresso bars, Internet cafes, vending machines and display fridges selling sandwiches and salads similar to a 7/11... it is quite the show and always jam packed at any hour of the day!
- Fast food restaurants do not serve fish or vegetarian options... it´s beef and chicken or go home.
- You can spend days with your neck tilted backwards in admiration of the European architecture and craftsmanship of the enormous heritage buildings.
- Every block has a magazine/newspaper stand that displays several pornographic magazines for all to see. Maxim Magazine is a porn mag out here with full nudity on the cover... interesting, no?
- Recycling of plastic and glass bottles is virtually non-existant and many end up in the garbage, on the side of the road, or in the parks... GET ON WITH IT PEOPLE!!
- Most people will try to speak English with you to help the translation process. In fact, many of them enjoy the opportunity to brush up on their English skills... this makes life SO much easier!
- Buses are very efficient and comfortable. They are not as cheap as Ecuador or Peru but they are also much safer and do not have to contend with the mighty Andes.
- Guess what... taxi drivers will try to rip you off!
- Hostels in the big cities are more like after hour parties with very loud music and heavy drinking until early in the morning. If its sleep you want, find a 2 star hotel instead. It will cost you less anyways and you´ll have a bathroom!
- A very trendy and fashionable thing to do is drink matcha and yerba mate tea in wooden cups that look like small engraved bowls, many of them quite detailed. You carry around a thermos of hot water and drink the tea using a pipe-like, metal straw that has a filter at the opposite end so that you do not swallow the loose tea. Seems like a hastle to me but it is very popular, especially in Uruguay.
I could go on and on but I think you get the picture...