Needing to extend our visas (by just a few days) and wanting to visit each of the neighbours (however briefly – just a few hours in Brazil and Paraguay), we have decided to pay a visit to Uruguay. The country is half the size of England, with a population of 3 million and just an hour hop across from Buenos Aires.
We sped across the Rio de la Plata to Colonia and spent 2 nights in the old town. It’s a beautiful peninsula with Potugese fortified walls, UNESCO Heritage status, lots of vintage cars, cobbled streets and some nice little restaurants. On the afternoon of day one we wandered through the streets, climbed to the top of the lighthouse (from where you can just make out the BA skyline) and watched a beautiful sunset from the beach.
On our second day we explored the museums (50 Uruguayan Pesos is about £1.10 and offers access to 8 little museums) and had a beautiful dinner of picadas – a selection of locally cured meats and cheeses from the area, washed down with a delicious local red wine (a Tannat).
Next we headed to the east coast for beaches and sunshine. Beaches we found – the sunshine took a little longer to find! The coastal towns really have 2 months of a summer season; December and January. So, popping-by and looking for a campsite is considered somewhat unusual on a windy, grey August day! In fact the campsite we had in mind was displaying a ‘no entry’ sign with a message to call a mobile number if you wished to stay. Two kilometres from the town (La Paloma), with no fellow campers and the woods full of empty holiday cabins didn’t feel tempting, so we settled for a wee beach-side hotel with a view across Bahía Chica (Little Bay).
We’re two blocks from the lighthouse, perfectly aligned for sunrise (7.15am – not too early), saw a sea lion on the beach yesterday, are willing some whales and dolphins to pass the bay while we’re here and can fall asleep to the sounds of crashing Atlantic waves and seabirds at night.
25th August is Independence Day so we’re hoping to join in with the local celebrations. Our next stop will be the capital, Montevideo, where we are hoping to meet a couple of SERVAS hosts and learn a bit more about Uruguayo history and how it feels to be a little country squished between the huge neighbours of Argentina and Brazil.