The One in Punta del Este

Trip Start Jul 20, 2007
Trip End Dec 14, 2007

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Sunday, December 2, 2007

    Looks like I'm still procrastinating. I've done so much writing today, but none of it has to do with that essay still looming over my head, I've given myself Monday as the I-absolutely-no-turning-back-its-almost-two-weeks-late-now-and-you're-leaving-on-Friday day to turn in the essay. Better start it!!

    Maybe I'll start it after I mention what we did in Punta. Because if I don't time will just keep getting farther and farther past the date of the trip and I'll start forgetting all the small but incredibly fascinating details that you're all just hovering in your chairs to read.

    M, D, and I left Bariloche on Tuesday and spent the night in BA, where we were all too tried and somewhat lazy to do anything but sit in the hotel and order room service. By then my sunburn had come out in all its glory so I spent most of the night writhing in pain.

    Wednesday we got up and headed to Punta del Este. Easy flight, easy customs, 30 min drive along the beach to the hotel, no problems there. The hotel was absolutely beautiful, unfortunately not on the beach, but i got to sit by the gorgeous pool covered by several towels and a big umbrella (my most recent experience with the sun didn't leave me begging for more). Grabbed some lunch and just sat by the pool. While we were lounging by the pool opening bottle #2 or 3 of wine Boo and Lauren arrived (those are my siblings, sort of. Boo is actually blood-related)!! So the fam got to be together for a few short days over thanksgiving.

    Punta del Este is apparently THE place to be in South America for the summer, as in The omg-you-didn't-go-to-all-the-fabulous-parties-and-schmooze-with-all-the-fabulous-models-and-lay-out-on-the-beach-all-day -and-just-be-so-fabulous?-Oh.Well. Sucks. To. Be. You.- Place. Unfortunately for us we're just not that cool, we didn't do any of that. We came about a month too early (well really about two months too early because things don't get going until well into January). The season didn't officially start until the beginning of December and like any good summer town, many of its popular restaurants, stores, and even hotels don't open or fill up until much later in the month. We ran into a few glitches with that, but still enjoyed ourselves thoroughly since 1, we'd never been there before, and 2, its not like we went there to see-and-be-seen, anyway.

    Whenever we tried to go to any of the dinner recommendations we'd been given by a friend, they obviously weren't open yet. So that was sometimes a bit disappointing, but we managed both nights to find great places regardless. Wednesday night we ate at Lo de Tere, or something along those lines. Good food, good fun, lots of wine. They also had an interesting menu, not only because of the customary mistranslations into English, but also because of the names of many of their dishes. I'm pretty sure Lauren either had Robert Redford or Brad Pitt for dinner, haha.

    There was a casino in the hotel (along with a spa and a movie theater) so we hung out there for a little while each night, too. It was actually my first time in one. I've never really had any desire to go and, along with the fact that everything was in Spanish and we couldn't find the directions for any of the slots, Lauren and I sort of just stuffed coins into the machine for about 20 min and pressed some flashy buttons until we decided to play roulette, or maybe black jack, or maybe both. Anyway we broke $ into chips and played. You can tell I'm not a gambler because the whole time I was thinking about whether or not we'd made our money back and was more concerned about that than any "luck" or "streaks" involved. Once we started to make back money I'd separate it from the pile we were using, only Lauren would start talking chips from my separated pile I made and then I'd make another pile and then she'd try and use those chips, etc etc, At the end of the night we made about $10. I don't see a bright future in any casinos for us.

    I have no idea what we did Thursday. Oh well. I think we might have explored the part of town that was supposed to have all the shops but they were closed (of course). Thursday night, of course, was thanksgiving dinner!! But, imagine trying to find one of those in Uruguay. We went to the Uruguayan Yacht Club and at ethings like gnocchi, pasta, fish, and steak. Extremely delicious, but not your typical thanksgiving fare. After dinner we spent more time in the casino. It was actually a rather depressing setting because it wasn't in season yet so the hotel was by no means at full capacity. Many of the guards gathered around the few tables that were being operated just to have something remotely interesting to watch.

    Friday we had a car drive us to Josť Ignacio which is about 30km away from Punta and is supposed to be even more "THE place to go" than Punta is. Shakira was there at the same time apparently planning a wedding or something along those lines (we obviously didn't see her though). So we drove out to see it. It was an overcast day, but still warm enough out not to cause us any major discomfort. We got out to walk around part of the little town, let Boo visit the one surf shop (he actually went surfing the day before with a guide, apparently cold but fun (not the guide, the water.) The guide apparently was a cute Uruguayan girl who also had some Spanish friends), took some pictures at a lighthouse, fulfilled our American-given duty to be swindled by crafts sellers, and oh!, it was suddenly lunch time.

    One of the places we had wanted to try for dinner a few days ago was La Huella (the footprint) in Josť Ignacio, but given our timing it hadn't open when we wanted to go. However our trip out on Friday did turn out to be the first day of the first weekend it opened for the season.

It was a very beach-chic spot, if that is any type of description, in the sense that its set right on the beach surrounded by dunes (had it been sunny I'm sure it would have been absolutely breathtaking). The beach part: There was a porch that wrapped around the entire beachfront side that was filled with tables and lounge areas. The chic part: the staff uniforms were from Lacoste, and they had plush blankets available to drape over diners should they get cold while dining outside. The food also happened to be delicious!

Right as we getting up to leave Lauren saw an acquaintance she had met last summer in the Hamptons. By acquaintence, I mean a Ralph Lauren modeling polo player named Nacho who has a beautiful, cute, young wife and two kids, but Lauren has just a bit of the tiniest crush on him. Anyway we're 11,000 miles from home and there he is. Ha, had a good laugh about that one. But Lauren's just as beautiful as they are so once she reminded them of where they met, they could place how they recognized her, too (see Lauren's comment to previous blog post "Birthday"). Then it was off to Buenos Aires for another whirlwind tour.

    Friday night, back in BsAs, we ate at Sucre joined by my friends Harper and Liana. The food was excellent, and I had tuna for the first time in months and it was soooo delicious. Then it was back to the hotel (we stayed at the Park Hyatt in Recoleta). Being the supercool kids we are, we just stayed there and hung out all night. Lauren went to bed early, though, because she wanted to be sure she was rested for her big Saturday of touring the city. It was great when she woke me up at 8:45!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (please note: previous sentence is meant to be dripping in extreme sarcasm).

Things we did on our whirlwind tour of Buenos Aires:
1.    picked up clothes at my apartment where Laur and Drew got to meet my host mom and brother
2.    walked around parts of Recoleta
3.    visited the Recoleta cemetery where we were simultaneously captivated and somewhat confused by the entire experience/ custom of huge family tombs with plaques and statues. The place was also teeming with stray cats.
4.    Visited the Recoleta artisan fair, although we got there on the early side so not all the booths were set up
a.    I did manage to be somewhat organized that day and found a few gifts to bring home
b.    Boo got a mate
c.    Lauren got a cool bracelet with shimmery, clinky argentine coins

That afternoon Lauren and I went to polo (the world championships). It was a quite an affair, a little too much for us. There were two games. We wanted to get a beer when we got there, however when we tried to order them the lady told us they don't go on sale until after the matches were over. I'm not much of a polo going person myself, but I always thought of it as the elitist version of football, i.e. its not a question that one will drink before, during, and after either event, its more like an obligation.

However, after being let down about the beer,  we were informed that if we wanted, we could go to the Chandon area and drink all the wine and champagne that our little hearts could desire. So that's basically what we did through the first match, we had more fun people watching. For the second game everyone went into the real stadium. We were directly above the little bell dinger man. I don't know much about polo other than it appears to have 5 periods and includes 4 horses per team, and the little bell dinger man seemed to be the one keeping track of the time. It was all fun and games, an interesting experience but a little out of my league.

We got back from the match and soon after, the fam left to go home. But! Since their flight was late at night they wanted to have a room to use for the day instead of being forced to check out and sit in the lobby from 10am until they left at 8pm. That meant that they had to keep the room overnight, so I got to stay there! Thoroughly exhausted from the week, I ordered room service and fell asleep watching the Sound of Music with Harper. Good thanksgiving all in all.

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