Catching the wave in La Barra!

Trip Start Apr 15, 2009
Trip End Jun 17, 2009

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Flag of Uruguay  , Maldonado Department,
Thursday, June 4, 2009

The bridge that leads from Punta to La Barra is the perfect visual representation of the town - something that doesn't quite make sense. The bridge reflects the waves crashing on the nearby rocks where the river meets the ocean.  Great environmental sculpture, but crossing the bridge, the roadway of which follows the profile of waves, is like riding a roller coaster.  This is not the way bridges are supposed to work!

Once across the bridge, you are presented with something akin to the disorienting world of the carnival fun house.  Along the main street, expensive restaurants and fancy home furnishings stores battle for space with the hardware store, the John Deere dealership, and the gas station. 

Built as a seaside get-away by residents of a town a few miles inland, La Barra has a core of non-descript buildings typical of a working-class beach town.  Later, the great ocean waves that crash on La Barra's beaches brought surfers and their casual lifestyle.  

And finally, as Punta became more popular and expensive, it spilled over into La Barra. 

The beauty of the beaches and the proximity to Punta overcame the humble beginnings, and the result is resort funk.  Expensive houses have taken the beach and the hillside with the best views, but on the inland side of the main street, there are still many modest homes helter-skelter among the pine trees.  In summer, the fun house atmosphere runs amok.  We're told that the main street is so packed that it can take two hours to drive the mile or so from the bridge to the other end of town.  Everyone parties, and the music reverberates until daylight.   

We are happy to be here in the off-season when La Barra is sleepier.  Our new Uruguayan friends, Silvia and Jorge, treated us to lunch at a restaurant named Flo on the shabby chic jumble of the main street.  A small beach house converted to a restaurant, Flo has a great vista of the ocean - at least until someone builds a new house closer to the water.  To get the best view, we sat on sofas around a large coffee table shared by another couple.  After lunch, we headed back to Punta, crossing the wavy bridge and waving goodbye to the jumble of La Barra.
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