Friday, January 7, 2011

Uruguay Travels, cont...

We have returned from our holidays in Uruguay,and the trip back was the opposite of the trip there. It went very smoothly and everyone was very helpful, in Uruguay and Paraguay! Bus from the hotel to the airport was easy to get and empty, at the airport we only had to pay $25 for both our bags, flight was quick, got into Paraguay fine and it cost us $2 and 2 buses to get from the airport all the way to Carapegua!!

So Christmas at the beach... didn't feel like a holiday at all really! There were no trees, no presents, stockings, nada. But it was ok, it was like taking a break from Christmas really. Nick and I went to the beach after a lazy breakfast. We had gone into town the night before, since Christmas Eve is when people really celebrate down here, like in Paraguay with the countdown to midnight and the fireworks. Luna, the dog from the hostel came with us into town but then we lost her when a firework went off by us and she ran away. Thank goodness when we got back that night she had found her way back!! So, beach Christmas day, Luna came with us again. It was almost like with the hostel you get a dog! She was so sweet and slept outside our door and followed us to the beach and stayed with us. It was really nice to have a dog that can be off leash and not run off and everyone knows who she is. The day was pretty uneventful other than Nick getting trapped in the ocean by this huge yellow lab that wanted to attack him. He was totally fixated on Nick and was watching him and wouldn't let him leave, when he tried to the dog would go after him until Nick backpedaled far enough into the water. Really weird. Finally I was gonna go get a stick or rock or something but instead talked to some people who helped lead him away and we found another place far away from the dog to sit. That's one case for leashing dogs I guess.

Luna, beach dog
La Pedrera beach, guy kite surfing
The rest of our time in La Pedrera was very tranquilo. Hung out on the beach and tried to not get red skin. Did not do much swimming though because the waves were very rough and it's pretty windy at the beach. Very different temps compared with Paraguay.
Zombie Bunker house
After four nights in La Pedrera we hopped on a bus to Punta del Diablo. Luna waited with us on the side of the road for the bus, hopping about in the tall grass like a fox, until the bus came and she came up to say goodbye to us. We didn't want to leave her! Once in Punta we didn't know where the house we were renting was! Only the beach it was by and what it looked like. We had to hike about with our huge backpacks up sand dunes to get a vantage point, then we saw it. The zombie bunker. At least that's what it looked like it could be. Such a contrast from our hostel in La Pedrera. This was very modern, concrete and new as opposed to wooden, old and decorated, but it was a cool place. Brian, Ricardo and Elmer were already there and had stocked the fridge and lined the shelf with 14 bottles of wine. Turns out all three of them are really great cooks so Nick and I ate veeeeery well that week!
Brian cookin
Punta del Diablo was at one point a small fishing town, now it's very touristy but not built up like Cancun. There are many very unique looking houses just plopped about in random ways. Apparently there are 600 residents in the winter and in the summer it changes to 25,000!!! When we arrived the explosion hadn't happened yet and it was nice to walk around and look at the shops and hang on the beach.

Some houses in Punta del Diablo
Lighthouse at Cabo Palonio
Sea Lions
Then came New Years Eve. That day the five of us took a day trip to a place called Cabo Polonia, veery cool place. To keep the environment intact you are not allowed to drive anything down there so there is this huge shuttle truck that buses people out every hour. We got to sit on the top part of it and got a great ride out of it. This place was a total hippy town and veeryy tranquilo. There was a small circle where the shuttle dropped us off that served as the main square I guess. One grocery store, some shops and eateries and a bunch of houses. At one part of the point was a lighthouse and a colony of sea lions! It was a really great place to check out. When it was time to leave we found out the bus we needed to take was not coming. We got back home on pure luck that night, arriving at about 10pm! 2 hours till NYE! We got ready and headed down to the beach where many people were waiting, there was no official countdown everyone just guessed, but at what was close to 12am everyone started shooting off fireworks on the beach, it was AMAZING. Better than any controlled fireworks show I'd been to. They were going off everywhere! It was a great vibe. More dangerous? yes. More fun? YES! After we had a great dinner out and then went to bed.

Fireworks on the beach!
the next day it was like an explooosion. The tourists started pouring in. Brazilians and Argentinians mostly. So different from when we first got there. On the morning of the 2nd at 4am Nick, Ricardo and I bussed out to Montevideo. Nick and I had 2 nights left and Ricardo left that same day back for Paraguay.

Montevideo at first kinda seemed like Asuncion to me, but then we got to the 'Old City' part and it was amazing! Old colonial architecture, museums, huge monument and mausoleum of General Artigas, the father of Uruguay. After a bumpy start trying to find a place to stay we ended up at an old mansion turned hotel. It was very colonial feeling and very charming, there was a bar right under it but it didn't keep us up at night. We just wandered about the Old City really, looking at the cool stores and the street vendors and old buildings. Went into some museums and at one point walked by someones house or shop, not sure what it was but it was filled with instruments made out of found objects. They guy even showed us how to play a few, such a cool thing to stumble across but we weren't sure if we had just walked into someones living room. We also walked by someone painting in his house and we could see what he was doing from the window, something I have not seen in Py.

And then we left. I don't know if I'll ever find myself in Uruguay again but we did learn things we could have done differently if there is a next time. Or if anyone needs advice, we can help. Good times though, good times.