You're a what? Guy? Gay?

Trip Start Sep 15, 2006
Trip End ??? ??, 2007

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Flag of Uruguay  ,
Saturday, March 24, 2007

The bus ride back to Buenos Aires was followed by a quick trek to the ferry terminal while being crushed by the weight of our baggage.  "Why did we just walk through grass?" complained Cierra.  "Now I have a bunch of mosquitoes chasing me."
"You don't have to follow me everywhere.  If you don't want to step in the grass next time, just walk around it."
Buquebus, the ferry company operating the only reliable link between Buenos Aires and neighboring Uruguay, has no shortage of hoops to jump through.  Wait in one line to buy your tickets, another to pay, then another to check in.  Since the ferry was full, we had to put our name on a list.  We don't fly standby, we float standby.  Of to the cafeteria for a pathetic lunch of 2 mini-croissants and a cup of yogurt.  Then we got to dash through the whole bureaucratic process at the last minute when they found room for us.  Book, pay, check-in, hurry up, hurry up! YOU'RE GONNA MISS THE BOAT! A tram towed us out to the dock and we scurried aboard, only to wait 5 or 10 minutes before we actually sailed.

Most of the room aboard was filled with overstuffed airplane seats and people crammed into them.  Then everyone was handed a ham and cheese sandwich and a bottle of water.  Nice, I wasn't expecting that on a one hour ride, but you could have told me earlier about this.  I wouldn't have bought "lunch" at the "cafeteria".  We wolfed it down and started playing cards before the wave action put Cierra out of action for the rest of the journey.  I spent a while just staring out the windows.  The same river we walked along in Rosario, here has turned into an estuary so wide that you can't see one bank from the other.  It takes this fast ferry an hour to cross it, and the slow one takes 3. 

Colonia del Sacramento's historic district occupies a beautiful point jutting out into the estuary.  We hiked off the boat and into town.  The first place we looked at was nice enough, and turned out to be the rock-bottom price in town, so we took two beds in a shared room.  The price had once again more than doubled from our 2004 guidebook.  Stupid economic recovery!
We took a walk around town, through the restored city gate, complete with drawbridge.  Cobblestone streets and quaint little buildings were everywhere, and we wandered, peeking at restaurant menus and planning our dinner.  After watching a beautiful sunset from the dock in the old harbor, we set out on another indecisive restaurant tour, finally settling on a nice little pizzeria.  Wood-fired, square pizzas, and a giant bottle of local beer.  Tasty.  Then we stopped by another place I'd been eying for dessert.  Flan with "dulce de leche", or milk jam, or what we know as caramel.  It's a local product, and they put it on just about everything here, in quantities that just invite diabetes to come up and take a chair at your table.

   We returned to the hostel satisfied, and upon checking our email, we were even more so, because Krin had sent us good news.  A missionary couple he'd met in Montevideo had offered to take us in!

With this great news, we decided to head to Montevideo late the next day.  We'd buy the ticket later, though.  First, a bit of lounging and writing on a patio near the river in the morning.  Tummies started to rumble, so we walked to a cute parrilla and had a delicious lunch that included a liter of the house's own homemade wine.  Powerful stuff, too, it became evident when we attempted to walk down the street afterwards.  Shuffle, shuffle, stagger.  Smile at the nice folks.  They don't know you're drunk.  Not too much.  Ah, you blew it.  Now they all know.  Whatever you do, don't giggle. 

At a locotorio, Cierra called home while I had a nap on a park bench "like a homeless person.", according to her assessment.  I have to disagree, because the local bum population all have blankets to soften the impressions made by the wooden slats, and I passed out without any such comfort.  Thank goodness I did go out there and sleep, though, because she was on the phone for nearly an hour, and I would have definitely gotten tired of watching the room spin with that much time on my hands.

Colonia was a charming place, but it had caught on to that fact and was now charging the tourist prices.  We'd seen all the free stuff and had some great food... time to move on.  We bought a ticket to Montevideo, shouldered our packs and boarded the wrong bus.

Ha ha.  Well, it wasn't really our fault.  Two buses to Montevideo, same company, same departure time, plus we got on the one the conductor pointed at when we showed him our ticket.  But a stop halfway along the route, a lady huffily demanded my seat, and I showed her my ticket.  When the conductor came along, he peered at the paper and said "otro coache".  I had brief visions of being dropped off in the middle of a dusty cow pasture, the sole feature of the typical Uruguayan landscape between the sparse settlements.  "No hay problema" he said after a look through his own papers.  Good.
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