Blog: Crossing Uruguay
In a daze we were awoken at 3am and told that we had reached our destination. None of the other 7 passengers on the bus got off, and by the time we had got our bags and started to wake up, the bus pulled away. We were standing in front of a closed building (which apparently was the bus station) on a completely deserted dirt road, with no signs of life except for the barking dogs somewhere in the distance. Because we figured it would be easy to deal with the Brazil – Uruguay border formalities, we decided to go to the border town Chui, which we were not completely sure which country it was actually in. It turned out we were on the Brazilian side. We found a sign with roads on it and from this we were able to decide which direction Uruguay was in and we started walking. We wandered around town for 20 minutes when we stumbled on a bar still blasting techno music, and had a crowd of young people standing in front, most of them stumbling drunk in random directions. We then tried a different route, but kept ending up in the same area, so we decided that instead of walking around with all of our possessions we should just go back to the bus station and wait. We found a less lit area to prop ourselves up and we sat and waited. This is when the stray dogs started showing up. The first two were very friendly, seemingly just happy to have someone to lie around with. Then third one came, and our two guardians both got up and chased it away, returning to their previous spots. We sat there in this state for 3 hours, figuring we looked like proper hobos, which was confirmed when other people showed up to wait for the bus and stood a fair distance away. Eventually the bus station opened and we asked the attendant how to get to Uruguay and he told us to walk one block up and two blocks over and we would be there. Apparently the road we had crossed several times in our attempts to “find” Uruguay, was the border and we easily found the bus station (just a tiny store front). We got tickets, for a bus leaving in 3 hours, and we got ourselves some food and sat in a park while the locals all avoided us; either because of the smell or the 6 or 7 dogs that we had accumulated in the past 6 hours. We got on the bus and fell asleep for the 2 hour ride to Punta del Diablo.
The remainder of our stay in Uruguay (did i mention, yeah you are!) was slightly less eventful than our first 6 hours. Punta del Diablo was a tiny fishing village with some of the most amazing looking surf waves we had seen along the east coast of South America, and was somewhere given the time we would have easily stayed a week, but we had a limited amount of money and had to move to a town with an ATM. We arrived in Punta del Este (by the way, Punta means Peninsula, along with other things i should keep to myself), which in the summertime is one of the most happening/expensive places in South America, where American celebrities like Leo DiCaprio as well as models or other rich people come to visit. Unfortunately for us, it was well into fall, and the town was a really nice looking ghost town. We spent two days there drinking with the one other person at the hostel, but being that we were getting excessively bored, we got out of there as soon as possible.
Our final stop was Montevideo (population 1.3 million), and is the capital of Uruguay (population 4 million), and for the first time since Brazil really took time to relax. The final weeks in Brazil were hectic, trying to leave, getting stuck in towns for longer than we should, and just trying to find a bus that would get us to Uruguay. But this place was different. The people wandered the streets without the haste that the rest of South Americans did. Everyone looked relaxed, happy, and calm as they wandered with one hand on their mate cup and a thermos of hot water in the other. We were told later that there is an art that only Uruguayans have in carrying their thermos under their arm,, and even the Argentineans don’t possess the same skills (first of all, if you don’t know what Mate is, ask me when i get back and secondly, this story was told by a Uruguayan… but i tend to believe it; Argentines sit with their Mate, Uruguayans walk EVERYWHERE with it). For 5 days we took in the city like the people, with no real rush to see the sights, and lots of wandering around. We did one or two things a day, one of the highlights was the market and the amazing Bife de Lomo (steak) that we had their; Cows outnumber people 4 to 1 in Uruguay, so the beef there is fairly amazing.
After our relaxing stay in Montevideo, we caught a bus to Colonia do Sacramento, and unfortunately did not have time to see the town before catching the ferry to Buenos Aries, Argentina. We had an amazing time in Uruguay, but needed to get on with our trip, as we figured we were running out of time. We made a tentative schedule as to how much time we could spend everywhere and made plans for a two week stay in Buenos Aries, which would leave us enough time to see the rest of the country as well as Chile, Bolivia and Peru……. Only 20 minutes into the boat trip we got bored and in an attempt to kill the 3 hours before our arrival in Buenos Aries, went to stand on the upstairs deck when we saw a guy in a Jamaica Futball jersey who waved us over to “stand in his circle”. He was Javier (who we just call “J”) and he lived in Colonia and was going to visit friends in Buenos Aries, and fortunately spoke fluent English. We sat down with his friends, all Spanish speakers, and he helped translate for us while we drank cup after cup of Mate. This managed to eat up the rest of the ferry trip and in no time we were closing in on Buenos Aries. We stood on the deck and watched in amazement as the massive city of Buenos Aries came closer and closer in to view. The skyline was lit up and as we got closer and closer the city just kept looking bigger and bigger. We both stood and watched in amazement as the city, home to 13 million people, began to reveal itself, and as the boat docked, we knew that our 2 week stay in Buenos Aries was going to be amazing……..