Trip Start Oct 17, 2012
Trip End Mar 27, 2013

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Where I stayed
El Viajero Hostel Ciudad Vieja Montevideo
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of Uruguay  , Montevideo,
Friday, October 26, 2012

We arrived in Montevideo, Uruguay on a Friday early afternoon. The plan was to spend the night here and then bus up to Punta del Diablo and find some camping space near the beach there as well as in Cabo Polonio. Exhausted from our 7am ferry to boat to bus transit so far, we purchased our next days bus tickets, took a cab to our hostel (which is amazingly cheap) and lazily walked around the old city and beach boardwalks. We are in an old part of town with mostly original architecture, though a lot of it is not being kept up. And, to accentuate the beautiful architecture, there is street art everywhere here, which we both enjoy-- actual art, not just someone graffitiing their name everywhere.

While we enjoy all of this sightseeing, we are actually on a mission, and per usual, it is to find food. However, stores seemed to be shutting down by afternoon, and since we couldn't find anything obvious in our price range that would be open for dinner, which is around 10pm here, we opted for the hostels Asado, or BBQ. A lot of hostels have a group dinner you can buy in to on weekend nights or, sometimes every night f the week. They are generally fairly priced, though it would still be cheaper to make your own dinner, but you get to mingle with your fellow travelers, and you don't have to cook. We spoke to a few people at the hostel about places they had been and got some good tips on places to eat in B.A., and to surf in Ecuador. After midnight, when people were starting to go out, we met a couch surfer we had been taking to online named Alejandro outside of our hostel. He and a friend of his had offered to show us Uruguay, starting by taking us to the bus terminal to return our tickets so we could take a bus with him to La Paloma instead of Punta del Diablo. We didn't know much about La Paloma, but since we didn't know much about anything, we decided to trust his judgement and accept his offer to show us around Rocha, the province where La Paloma and Cabo Polonio is located.

Walking around Montevideo we kept running into people smoking marijuana and drinking on the boardwalk. Alejandro informed us that it is legal to drink in public. Also, an interesting note, the beer is sold by the liter, no 16oz cans here! Perfect for sharing. Alejandro also mentioned that marijuana is not illegal here and most people smoke marijuana and cigarettes. He seems to be right; pretty much everyone here smokes a ton of cigarettes, some weed, and drinks mate all day.
Alejandro and his cousin work on a farm growing mostly corn, and are interested in high yield crops. However, despite the legality, the agricultural know how, the land availability, the high demand for the product, the high cost of the yield, and the durability of the plant, they (and pretty much nobody else here) grows their own marijuana, and we never came across anyone trying to sell it. Everywhere we have been we have been offered weed for free that has been imported from Paraguay and is dry and brown, and of obvious poor quality (like those smushed up bricks of weed you see in movies that doesn't resemble a plant at all).
While everyone seems to be drinking and smoking all day and all night, this is no Vegas or Amsterdam. People are not going crazy and there are no more littered cigarette butts or broken glass on the street than any big American city. Also, they have no-smoking laws for any enclosed spaces like bars, restaurants, shops, and all of the cigarette packages have pictures of dying people saying, basically, "don't smoke this- it will kill you." It's strange to see so many people smoking around you, but you kind of get used to it. Because its so widespread and accepted, it's still social.--In the US people leave the bar to go smoke alone outside, but here there is just as big a group outside of the bar drinking and smoking as there are people inside drinking (and probably eating). I suppose everyone has their vice.
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My Review Of The Place I Stayed

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