Off to Uruguay

Trip Start Oct 10, 2006
Trip End Apr 03, 2007

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Flag of Uruguay  ,
Thursday, January 4, 2007

I am off to Colonia in Uruguay. At breakfast there is a news report from the ferry port. They are showing police and long lines. I finally find a cab who is reluctant to take me but makes it clear he is going to drop me off nearby, not at the ferry. I only understand half of what he says but he is not sure if the ferries are operating. I show up 15 minutes before departure. Police are everywhere. The check in and boarding lines are long, for the 11:15 departure. But, I am on the 9:45 and go straight through with no delays. I guess one is supposed to show up 2 hours early. They never mentioned that when I bought my ticket. Border formalities were handled in Argentina for Bolivia as well. My immigration person was not familiar with the combined Chile & Arg form that I received entering Salta. I had to show him that it had a Arg stamp.

The fast ferry only took 50 min (the auto ferry takes 3 hrs). I piece together, with the help from Hunter who I met on the ferry, that there is an ongoing conflict over Uruguay's intent to build a plant on the shared river that will introduce pollution. Tourist transport is the focus of protests. I never see any problems and customs is virtually nonexistent

The ATM has been limiting me to $200-300 despite a US limit which is higher. Since there is a fee per transaction, this increases total costs. This was true in Arg and Uruguay. I was unable to extract US$ in Arg but could in Uruguay . BTW, I was better off using US $ over Arg pesos for conversion into Uruguay $.

By 11 AM I have a room and am exploring the small town. It has retained a center with much of the Colonia architecture. It is a beautiful place, right on the water. I highly recommend a stop by anyone and a few days by couples that can enjoy the peacefulness. Being single, I need to find more activity. There are lots of good restaurants and bars but the historical section only takes an hour to explore. It is really hot during the day but is nice at night. I walk 3 km along the beach. It is a mix of 10-15 yr old local kids and families that appear to be Arg tourists. Few in my age range who are likely in Punta del Este.

I stop at a local café overlooking the beach. I ask for a beer and get a 1 liter bottle. Back to the mega size. It is $2. Nice to be back to the lower prices as well. What will I do back in the us when they charge me $7 for 12 oz? For those looking to justify a trip to S Amer, the savings from 35 beers here will pay for the cost of a flight. I watch the sun set around 9.

My days have become very difficult; A little touring, 2 hour lunch with a beer or wine, siesta, a little more touring, drink at a café then a late dinner. I am turning into a lethargic person. I need activity!

I go to Meson de la Plaza for dinner. It is very pretty, in a home from 1887 with a nice courtyard inside. It is as nice as I had in BA. Cheese fondue for at least 2 and a steak in garlic and spices. The Uruguayan wine, varietal of Tannat, is not bad. Mine was light and simple. My desire for good food and ability to go well beyond the budget of backpackers has resulted in my dining frequently where I am the only single person. Bummer! I am off to bed at 12. How will I survive in Punto del Este which sleeps at 7AM? BTW, I am the only person I have seen at 5 star restaurants with a Palm writing his blog. Something peculiar ...

An observation. I am stuck in a middle zone. I enjoy the backpackers. I relate closely to their sense of adventure, desire for community, more athletic endeavors ... I am different with my desire for really good food, financial flexibility, age ... This puts me in the middle of 2 very different worlds. I can go between the two easily but don't fit into either really well.
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