After unloading from the ferry about 10 minutes after leaving Argentina, we followed the other passengers to the migration office. Our passports were stamped, bags checked for fruit and nuts, and we were in Uruguay.
Earlier we had taken a screenshot of the google map directions to our hostel, about a 2km walk from the ferry terminal. We started making our way and were followed for some time by a dog barking at us madly. Maybe that was a bad sign?
Pressing on, we found ourselves in a distinctively residential area. We were on the right street, but the street numbers were more like 1134, rather than the 134 we were looking for. When we were sure we had hit the right spot, Lindsay popped into a corner store to ask if they knew where the hotel was. There was a lot of commotion as there was a crowd of about 10 Uruguayans discussing who knows what, looking at the map on Lindsay's phone, looking at her, having more discussions and pointing in varying directions.
Meanwhile Fergus was waiting on the opposite street corner with our bags, wondering why people were going in and out of this corner store and Lindsay wasn't returning.
Eventually everyone went out onto the street. One girl using google translate on her phone asked "Did you really walk all that way?". Another man asked Lindsay, in Spanish, if she was married, at which time she pointed to her travelling companion across the street.
While this was going on, another few people were pushing a ute out a driveway to clutch start it, before they ushered us into the back with our bags. It's strange how things you would never do in Australia suddenly seem completely fine because you are in a country where it's completely normal. While we held on to the back of the ute and a female passenger also came for the ride in the front with a baby on her lap, the lovely man drive us right to our hostel. We couldn't thank him enough!
After checking in we went to check out town. After consulting the map of Salto we obtained from our hostel owner, we discovered that our hostel was in fact exactly 2 blocks from the ferry terminal. Google Maps 1, Lindsay and Fergus 0!
Our next task was to work out how the hell we were going to get to the Gaucho Ranch Panagea the next day (Tuesday), about an hour from Tacuarembo. The owner collects guests from Tacuarembo, however buses only seem to run on Mondays and Thursdays. Juan Manuel, our host, informs us there is a bus on Tuesdays, at 3.30pm, no 4pm. We should get this bus and ask the driver to drop us at the Paso de Victor bridge at kilometre marker 189 on route 31. Riiiight.
At the bus terminal, we check all the signs of all the bus companies, enquire with them about the bus on route 31, can't understand their responses except that we should ask the tourist information office. The lady at the tourist info didn't speak English either.
At a complete loss, we were standing in the middle of the bus terminal discussing how we really needed to find someone who spoke English, and at that very moment a German backpacker named Anne walked by. Anne looked at us and smiled, and said she spoke both English and Spanish and did we need her help? Yes please!
After explaining our situation, Anne decided she would also like to come and stay on the ranch. She spoke to some bus companies and we got some more info. We exchanged contact details so Anne could let us know if she decided to come along.
We left the bus terminal still not entirely sure what bus we needed, but decided to just return the next day and work it out then.
We had a quiet evening and cooked some stodgy pasta in our hostel for dinner. In the morning, we had received an email from Anne saying she would like to join us, so we agreed to meet at the bus terminal in the afternoon. Anne had discovered after we parted ways that there was actually a daily bus to Tacuarembo on route 31 at 4pm. It turned out we just hadn't been able to find out about it the day before as that bus company didn't have a ticket office.
After wandering around Salto and eating some sandwiches by the river, we returned to the bus terminal and made some more enquiries just to make sure this bus was in fact real. Sure enough, just before 4pm, a J.T. bus rolled in. We (Anne) explained where we would like to disembark, we got a response (not sure what) and they threw our bags on. So, off we went!
This bus turned out to be quite a popular local bus, with people getting on and off all the way along. We had been informed we would reach our marker at around 6.30pm, but that came and went and night had well and truly fallen when the bus pulled to a stop and we received our signal that this was our stop. In the darkness we could make out a white truck, and then the friendly voice of Juan Manuel to greet us. Phew! We would not have to spend the night by the roadside in the middle of the Uruguayan Campo (country).