We boarded a bus to Montevideo late Saturday afternoon, saying goodbye to our favourite little beach town of Punta del Diablo. Our priority at this point was to get to the border of Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil at Iguazu Falls as soon as possible and hopefully see a little bit of ´Gaucho`country along the way. The next two days proved to hold many life lessons - in Latin America entire towns shut down on Sundays, one can only spend so many hours in a bus terminal before losing their mind, and they serve free Coffee Liqueur on long trips for a reason.
Arriving in Montevideo we decided to grab a quick bite before hopping on the next bus to Tacuarembo at 11pm that night. McDonalds was the restaurant of the hour, and it might suprise you to know that it´s actually pretty good in South America (or maybe our standards have just lowered that much upon arrival!) A few Big Mac Meals later and we were on our way north through central Uruguay to a token Gaucho (cowboy) town. What I had hoped would be a town filled with gun-slinging, chaps-wearing cowboys, proved to be nothing of the sort at 4am when we arrived on Sunday morning. Our first bright idea was to catch the earliest bus on Sunday to Salta, the closest and most efficient border crossing into Argentina. To our dismay, absolutely NO buses leave town on Sundays for our desired destination - super. Our next best option was a few hours south of Salto which meant backtracking, but at that point we just wanted to keep moving and being on a bus going in any direction seemed more logical than standing still.
Instead of spending the next 10 hours in the bus station like the hobos we were quickly becoming (and smelling), we stumbled to the center to find a room at the only open hotel in town. The guy at the front desk was less than accommodating, charging us full price for two rooms when we only needed one for a nap, a shower, and a place to drop our packs that were growing heavier by the minute (smart guy - we really didn´t have many options). Nonetheless, the beds were little tastes of Heaven and the first showers in two days were glorious. We passed most of the morning unconscious and the afternoon searching for better ways to get to the border (even attempted to rent a car but decided $250USD was a little more than we could spare for a 2hr drive). Realizing the bus to another border crossing at Paysandu at 6pm remained our best bet we finally decided to chill out, doing some much needed blogging and enjoying a classic - Wedding Crashers - in the hotel lobby.
Boarding our third bus that evening, I was really excited that we would be driving part of the way in daylight. The whole purpose of the trip to Tacuarembo was for me to see cows. That´s right, Papa Charlton was promised pictures of different cows in every country and he would get them. The quality of the pictures might be lacking, due to the fact that we were whipping by the cattle at 100 km/hr, but I was poised at the window doing my best to capture them in all their Uruguayan glory for about 2 hours. We didn´t really have the Gaucho experience in Tacuarembo that we had hoped for and we had deviated from the the most efficient route to arrive at our final destination, but atleast we got some quality bonding time, have travelled with each Uruguayan bus agency, and know that our love only grows stronger for one another the greasier we get.
Our tiny mistake proved easy enough to rectify. We arrived in Paysandu where we were lucky enough to catch the last bus to Salto (our ORGINAL plan!). Two hours later we found ourselves in Salto, hired a taxi to cross the border into Argentina, and arrived in Concordia at 2 am. Our next bus to Posadas was 2 hours late, so we slept super-comfortably on the plastic arena-like seats until 6am awaiting its arrival (we´re getting there inch by inch!!!).
The ENTIRE next day was spent on the bus (who could have guessed?) but in our deliriously exhausted state we passed right out and slept for over half of the 9 hour trip. The Argentinean countryside was beautiful (more cows too!), and if you didn´t know where you were you could have been in Alberta. After a brief one hour stop in Posadas, recharging our batteries with some Empanadas and Quilmes, we jumped on our next bus for the 4 hour trip to Iguazu falls!
Whew. Who´d have thought that we would actually make it in one piece and without killing one another? Or journey from the most southeastern coast of Uruguay to the most northern border of Argentina took us 6 buses, 1 taxi, 30 hours, and loads of patience. Learning alot about what we are capable of and even more from our mistakes, we arrived in Iguazu Falls ready for the next phase of our adventure. Hoooraaaay!