Vamos al Mundial! (and Cabo Polonio)

Trip Start Oct 14, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Ali's Place

Flag of Uruguay  ,
Saturday, November 21, 2009

Well, Cabo Polonio was just as amazing as they said. It's hard to describe it in words, but basically its a tiny village which is only accessible by 4X4 trucks. The people here live with no electricty or running water, and that's by choice. There are no real roads, except for one or two sand paths, and the 100 or so houses are sprinkled about in a seemingly random fashion. Everyone in this place is either a fisherman or a hippy, which is evident by the way some of these house are painted. The "skyline" of Cabo Polonio is dominated by a lighthouse and there is a relatively large colony of sea lions living nearby, so after I dropped my things off at a hostel (one of only two in the town), I went to check them out. I sat for about an hour, watching them screaming, playing, and swimming about. Afterwards, I climed the 132 steps to the top of the lighthouse for a breathtaking view.

After dinner, I walked over to the west beach to the see the sunset which was quite beautiful. It was a very clear night, and so after a few beers around candlelight with some new friends, I snuck out and spread a blanket on the beach to enjoy the pristine night sky. With no light pollution within kilometers, this had to be the most amazing night sky I have ever seen. Every now and then I would see a shooting star. I could have stayed there all night, but it was very windy and quite cold, so I went to bed. Cabo Polonio is sandwiched between two beaches, one to the east and one to the west and this allowed me to catch the sun rise over the east beach just a few hours over watching it set over the west beach. I woke up at 5:30 am after only a few hours of sleep and it was totally worth it! The sunrise was even more beautiful than the sunset and I must have snapped 100 pictures. This is paradise...

I took an afternoon truck back to the main road, and befriended Leo on the half hour ride who turned out to be quite an interesting character. He's a 50-something year old lawyer who has been living in Cabo Polonio for the last 20 years and was heading to Montevideo for a few days. He agreed to give me a lift in exchange for paying the three tolls on the way, so I threw my pack in the back of his car and off we went. We spent most of the ride talking about his travels and about the politics of Cabo Polonio. Apparently the government wants to remove the population and exchange it for a few big resorts and he is fighting to preserve it as-is. After about 5 hours, Leo dropped me off at the center of the city, where I was picked up by my host Alison.

Ali was planning a trip to New York almost a year ago, and had contacted me for some information and possibly a place to stay. Although she ended up not coming, we kept in touch and finally got to meet. It was pretty late by the time we made it back to her place, so we just chatted a bit over some mate and then called it a night. The next morning, I caught a bus to the old city and spent most of the day walking around and seeing some sites. Restaurants at Mercado del Puerto serve the biggest steaks I have ever seen, and the Salvo Palace was once the tallest building in South America. The architecture is stunning but not all of the building are kept up properly, so some of them are crumbling. I was also pleased to find some people playing chess on the street, so I joined them for little while, and I would stop by sometimes over the next few days for a quick game.

Uruguay was playing Costa Rica in a world cup qualifying match that night in Montevideo, but unfortunately, I was unable to get tickets, so I went with Ali to her friend Gonzalo's apartment to catch the game. Uruguay had won the first leg in Costa Rica and needed only a draw that night to qualify for the world cup. They acheived it, and the whole city went wild. We stepped out of Gonzalo's apartment and into a throng of wild fans who were making their way from the stadium down the main avenue. I was not expecting such a large celebration, full of chanting, singing, and fireworks. After about an hour it was turning into a borderline riot (at least one bus station was totally destroyed) so we went back home.

The next afternoon, I met up with my uncle Mike and aunt Sharyn, who are in Montevideo from Buenos for a few days. I watched them relish their huge lamb stakes at a local market, while I quitely ate my poor salad and some grilled cheese (not a sandwich, they actually put a piece of cheese on a wooden board, and grill it). I'll stay in Montevideo for a few more days, and then start heading west towards Buenos Aires, with one or two stops on the way.

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uzi evron on

if you found paradise why did you leave so fast? waht iks the hurry?

GroovyD on

Because paradise isn't but one...

Katemari on

I'm so glad you went to Cabo Polonio!
I love this place. I love Uruguayans!
I really think you should rethink your vegetarianism though. You are missing the best meats on Earth, baby.

Keep having fun!!!

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