Traversing this great country
Small, it took a week
Much to Bronwen's delight we decided to spend another week in Uruguay. We enjoyed a glorious 3 days in Punta del Diablo, a tiny tranquil beach town on the east coast of the country. We stayed at the only hostel there, which was full of surfers and people regenerating in the midst of trips like ours. There was absolutely nothing to do except enjoy the sea. Eli even got in a bit of fishing with a pole borrowed from the hostel. For all you potential honeymooners out there, put this town on the list!
We left feeling energized, and set out to weave our way across Uruguay back into Argentina. We stopped for a night in Mercedes and 2 nights in Salto, both sweet little riverside towns with only a few restaurants and several beautiful plazas. In Salto we had one of our favorite evenings yet, watching the sunset at the waterfront with a few beers and panchos (hot dogs), then happening upon an outdoor screening of Uruguayan short films! Good stuff!
From Salto we crossed back into Argentina by boat, a little cruiser that zipped us across the Rio Uruguay to Concordia. We had our most hilarious border session ever, with the immigration officer who stamped our passports exclaiming "Up Obama! Up Obama!" in English for the entire 15 minutes we were there. Then the customs inspector was absolutely tickled to find a mate in Bron's bag ("you drink the mate?!"), and joyfully showed it around to his customs buddies. Delightful.
With 10 hours to kill in Concordia before we had to catch a train, we concentrated our efforts on trying to stay awake and hydrated in the muggy heat. Most memorable was our dinner: THE best steak perhaps of our lives (so good Bron completely forgot to get out her camera - no steak shot!), accompanied by a perfectly adequate red wine with the unfortunate name Viejo Toro (Old Bull).
Our final adventure of the week was the train trip on the Gran Capitan, which connects Buenos Aires to Posadas and was a popular route in the 1950's. Not too many (or any) upgrades since then, and in fact the train was not in service for a number of years and is trying to get back on track (literally and figuratively, haha). Its very cheap and, we now know, infamous for delays. The posted schedule is a pickup in Concordia at 10 pm, arriving in Posadas at noon the next day. The Gran Capitan rolled into crumbling Concordia station around 1 am, and finally pulled away near 3 am. We opted for 1st class tickets, which meant for $14 we had our own (slightly broken) seats instead of
Tourist Class communal benches. The route itself was beautiful, miles and miles of green fields, cows and wild birds including flamingos and nandus, mate fields, and several rusted out train cars that apparently had been rolled off the tracks. The only real issue was that we didn't get into Posadas until 8 pm so we had to stretch our packets of cookies, crackers, and jam (intended as breakfast) over three meals. Hungry but satisfied by the train ride we made it into Posadas found lodging, and collapsed into bed! We're looking forward to seeing what more Argentina has in store for us.