Bienvenidos a America del Sur

Trip Start Sep 22, 2010
Trip End May 17, 2011

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Flag of Uruguay  , Montevideo,
Thursday, February 3, 2011

Leaving Hawaii is always tough, but one canceled flight and free night at the LAX Radison later, we were excited to be in South America (although we did sleep for our first 22 hours in Buenos Aires, no joke!).

We spent our time in humongous BA wandering around and trying to get used to the shockingly high prices of South America (when coming from Asia).  The prices led us to our first stay in dorm beds as well as our first trip to the grocery store since three meals a day at a restaurant was no longer in our repertoire.   The Palermo and Recoletta neighborhoods were highlights of our stay, and we wish we had devoted more time to the city in retrospect. 

After a few days in BA, we took the ferry over to Uruguay, an amazing country that´s surprisingly off the radar for many travelers.  We started in Colonia del Sacramento, a town that looks like it hasn´t changed in centuries, from the cobbled streets to the old fort walls and lighthouse.  Colonia is where we started enjoying one of South America´s best things: cheap wine.  We stayed in one of our favorite hostels and met some great people, one who was a dead-ringer for our friend from Hawaii (see the long-hair with the guitar in the photos).  He spearheaded a rambunctious evening, which led us to get scolded by the hostel lady.  

From Colonia, we ventured over to Montevideo, which seemed like a mini version of BA, but with plenty of unique character.  We saw beautiful plazas, tons of street-side artists, and great pedestrian markets.  At the Puerto Mercado, an old port warehouse turned restaurant central, Jay met and fell immediately in love with his favorite new sandwich, the chivito.  It´s a steak sandwich.  With ham.  And bacon.  And egg, cheese, and toppings galore.  Always served with french fries.  One highlight of the city was visiting the University of Uruguay, where Susie´s dad, Basil, studied when he was Susie´s age.  He always talked about his wonderful days in Uruguay, so we´re sure he was happy we visited his old stomping grounds. 

After Montevideo began our vacation from vacation.  We visited two beautiful coastal towns, Punta del Diablo and La Pedrera, which were both colorful bohemian beach get-aways.  Strangely enough, the coast reminded us of northern Michigan, with huge sand dunes and dark blue water.  We started our camping odyssey in Diablo (having since logged 50+ tent nights), and also learned the fine art of the asado, South American style BBQ.  We met some of our favorite people in Diablo and our stay there culminated in a massive beach bonfire, complete with guitars, drums, sing-a-longs, and heaps of wine.  Luckily, two of our friends from Diablo met us in Pedrera, where they serenaded Jay for his birthday.  Thanks again Kevin and Kyle Mason del Sur (Faustino)! 

One last notable thing about Uruguay was the matte obsession.  We´d heard about matte, a tea-like drink, in BA, but Uruguayans take it to a whole new level.  The closest we could compare it too was if 90% of US adults carried around a coffee mug, a french press, grinds, and a thermos of hot water all day long.    
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