Hippie Colony

Trip Start Mar 11, 2010
Trip End Jul 31, 2010

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Flag of Uruguay  ,
Thursday, March 11, 2010

My current number: +59891067955

Before reading on you may want to go back to the previous entry which I have updated with text and pics.

Whilst Punta is no doubt the top destination for summer fun, the whole of the Atlantic coast is lined by never-ending beaches interspersed by a range of cute and less-so villages. One such village is Cabo Polonio. Whilst I had heard about it from Catherine, it is not well known by international tourists and thus seldom in travel books.

It is not surprising either. After having navigated around Punta with the very efficient bus system I thought I would try my hand to get up there. I therefore got the directions which involved firstly going up to a nearby town called San Carlos, approximately an hour away. Unfortunately when I reached San Carlos and asked for the next bus to Cabo Polonio, I was told it was 3 hours later… and that the journey took 3 hours!!! That's not it, as when you get there you still have to wait for a 30 min 4x4 ride as no cars can make it to the place! It did not take long to decide my day would be better spent back in Punta, hiring a car even though my budget did not really allow it, and heading to the local beaches!

Day two – ah the joys of having your own wheels! Picked up a small Fiat Polio from the local AVIS branch and headed straight up the coast. As I now had my own dedicated transportation, I also decide to stop in the various little villages - some cute and peaceful, others not so. Of the ones I saw, I would definitely suggest Jose Ignacio and La Pedrera, either to escape the crowds (which I did not witness) of Punta, or for something a bit more romantic (same ;-). Anyhow, after 180km and just over 2 hours of driving, I reach the 4x4 station which will take me to this mysterious Cabo Polonio.

What a place this Cabo Polonio! Basically a hippie settlement located on a small peninsula, it is worlds apart from the typical coastal villages. Small houses (or huts) decorated with lively paintings in a multitude of colours are randomly placed on the grasses behind the lighthouse. It is the lack of order and density that make this place charming along with the fact that only a couple of houses have electricity to cater for the basic necessities. Otherwise, it is all about getting away from it all, slow and quiet living, meditation in an inspiring landscape.

Beyond the lighthouse are three small island populated during part of the year with seal colonies (see the many black dots in the photo) to which the government has forbidden boat access since last year – shame but probably a good thing! There are of course beaches on either side of the peninsula but what makes them special is the vast sand dunes in the background – one could think they were in a desert.

In the evening, the lack of electricity makes this an even more special place as inhabitants travel with lanterns and the small houses light up with the glow of many candles. Unfortunately I was not able to stay and witness this, but would definitely come back for a night or two.

Instead I headed back to Punta via the more inland route. For those who ask what Uruguay might look like other than its beaches… have a look at the last photo – cows, cows, cows, eating away in fields dotted by palm trees – how curious!
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