Date: Thursday, January 13, 2000 12:35 PMDoug McLean World Tour 1999-2000Back Home Next
Subject: Dec 17-20, 1999: Uruguay
Current Date/Location: Jan 13, 2000...Sao Paulo, Brazil YES, I am very behind on my journals...hope to catch-up soon.
Current Itinerary: Heading South on the coast towards Florianopolis, BR...probably will stop in Curitiba and Paranagua. Meeting tons of people who keep inviting me to visit...so plans are hard to define. Current thinking on Carnival: Salvador do Bahia, Brazil (Mar. 5)
Dec. 17, 1999 (Fri):
Arrived at 1pm into Buenos Aires off the bus from Mar De Plata...I was going to take a boat onward to Montevideo, but decided on an overnight bus for $29 (this was both the cheapest method of transport...and it allowed me to skip paying for a hostel/hotel for the night...my Scottish Ancestors would
be proud!). I left my bags at the bus station and wandered around the town for awhile. I found an all you can eat parrilla for $5 and stuffed myself with fruit, sushi, and beef. Walked around...visited Plaza Francia, Museo National De Bellas Artes and saw a symposium and a Brazil Art Exhibit...walked and checked out a VERY cool hostel, Recoleta Youth Hostel...I highly reccommend it for your next trip to Buenos Aires...met several guys and girls living in EZE working teaching English (hmmmm...that's an idea...)...then I caught my bus us to Montevideo.
Dec 18, 1999 (Sat): I arrived into Montevideo at 6am...walked the 30 blocks from bus station to hotel (no kidding)...I figured, why not...I have the time and it saved me busfare...the best way to experience a city is to walk it! Checked in and napped for awhile (yes, I do get tired sometimes) before meeting my friend Eileen at the port.
OK...history...Eileen is a friend of mine from Los Angeles (for those of ya'll who are long-time subscribers...she is the one who invited me to the Italian wedding in Treviso, Italy in October). She has a good gig (job)...she works for a cruise ship company and somehow conned her way into managing a photo shoot for their print advertising...all onboard their 2 week cruise from Santiago through the Southern tip of Patagonia (Straight of Magellan) and up to Montevideo and then ending in Buenos Aires. I had timed my visit to Montevideo to meet her ship during it's 9 hour port of call.
I met Eileen at the cruise ship...she had pulled rank (or batted her eye lashes at the right purser on board) and gotten me a day pass to visit the ship (actually pretty hard to get for a travelling cruise ship). I briefly
toured the ship and then we met some of the other people on the cruise with her and we went into the town...and as far as I am concerned...right into the jaws of tourist HELL!!!
Well...that may be a little strong...but you gotta understand...apparrently
when a cruise ship pulls into town (probably most towns around the world) lots of extra vendors and tourist crap springs into life. Anyway, we went to a plaza where they were having a flea market (totally tourist driven...no locals were shopping within 600 yards of this stuff) that featured antiques (shit) and lots of knicknacks (crap). Then, the Uruguayans closed off a street at the end of the plaza and broke out into a dance demonstration (ahhhh...just the perfect thing for the cruise people to see and video/photo to say they saw some culture in Montevideo...uh huh...). Anyway, we actually did have an OK time...but I felt sorry for the cruise folks...it seems like a poor way to see a city...9 hours??? (note...the cruise ship
would leave Montevideo at 5pm and basically go out in the ocean and drift until the following morning before docking in Buenos Aires which is normally a 3 hour ride MVD to Buenos Aires...this is aparrently to save on port fees...they had the time to be docked in Montevideo until 3am the following morning and then cruise into Buenos Aires...but the Cruise Line chooses instead to go out and do circles in the ocean...I think it is pretty damned stupid...but then again, I don't claim to understand the entire cruise ship
mentality of insulating everyone from absolutely any glint of culture or genuine experiences in all these "foreign" ports of call...oh well...so much for my little diatribe (sp?) on cruise ships)...oh yeah...and Eileen was probably the youngest person on the entire ship...can you say Geratol??? ...I guess cruising isn't for me.
Well, after experiencing the plethora of tourist traps in the town...Eileen was feeling bad, so we skipped lunch in town with the others and returned to the boat for her to lie on a deck chair while I partook of one of the famous cruise ship feeding troughs (buffets)...ahhhh...I must say, I did eat a lot and it was passable...but best of all, it was free!!!
Anyway, we hung out on the ship for a couple of hours catching rays on the deck...and then I had to go...cruise ships must stick to their schedule...uh huh. I was glad to have viewed the cruise lifestyle...and was even happier to leave it...I bid Eileen goodbye and disembarked from the ship.
I walked back through the town...while doing so, I ended up talking with 4 Uruguayan girls and asked where an internet cafe was in town...they said they would take me there...and on the way, we stopped at the ubiquitous (sp?) McDonalds for an ice cream cone (which they bought for me...I couldn't stop them...the Uruguayans are very friendly)...I practiced my Spanish with them...and gave them some practice in English. I really appreciated their warmth...which is a trademark of the Latin Culture...Me Gusto!
I walked around the city a little after using the internet...and guess what...the flea market and all the tourist stuff was pulled down and closed up...obviously life was returning to normal in Montevideo.
Dec. 19, 1999 (Sun):
Woke...grabbed my backpack (thought of the cruise life and practically kissed it!) and headed out...stopped to eat a traditional Uruguayan food called Panchos...hmmmmm...the girls had said they were traditional...but they looked an awful lot like hotdogs to me...go figure...anyway, I ate 2 of
I caught the omnibus (Busses are called Collectivos in Argentina, Omnibusses in Uruguay, and Autobusses in Mexico...hmmmmm...I think I need theasaurus for Latin America) from Montevideo to Punta Del Este (a beach town frequented by many Argentenians...it is only 4 hours by boat from Buenos
Aires)...onboard the bus, I met Tincho (world traveller from Uruguay...going to Punta Del Este to work) who was cool and we talked much of the way. Upon arrival, I met his friends who met him and then caught a bus to Manantiales Hostel (a hostel near Punta Del Este)...well, I am here to tell you,
Manantiales is a sleepy town...I walked into the hostel and not a soul was there. I left my bag on one of the many empty beds, and headed to the beach.
I walked around the town (took 5 minutes) and then hit what turned out to be a very grainy beach. I sat and read The Red Badge of Courage while watching a group of 10 girls about 100 yards away who were having a beachside Bachelorette Party/Shower...no kidding...they were all in bikinis drinking,
dancing, putting funny bunny ears on the obvious bride-to-be, giving and opening presents, and having a good time...at the beach...it was cool...and very South American...the beach provides much of the social life for these people...a different way of life. Anyway, I actually did concentrate enough to finish the book, which was pretty good.
I returned to hostel...met the guy running the hostel, Eduardne (I think) paid for my room and chilled out on the balcony and read my other book about geography (thanks mom)...I was one of only two people . Anyway......read geography book...Walked to La Barra (4km)...town is in middle of construction...awaiting tourist crunch in 2 weeks...walked back to hostel...got meat and cheese for sandwiches...talked with Daniel and Eduardo (not his exact name) until late. I gave him Red Badge of Courage to start
Dec. 20, 1999 (Mon):
Woke late...downsized bag by giving my Argentina book to Eduardo (another book for the hostel library...now 2 strong!) and gave an extra set of hiking shoes (old ones) to Daniel...both were very happy.
I took Minibus to Punta Del Este...got off the bus and saw Valeria and friend (friends of Tincho...small world, eh?)...the friend left, and then Valeria and I walked on beach and talked for awhile. Punta Del Este has a statue of a huge hand coming out of the sand...it is very cool and we took pictures. Valeria was very interesting and she is a Marine Biology major...parents have a sweet apartment in Punta del Este and rent it out in Jan and Feb $6000/Month.
I left and took the bus...I was going to go as far as I could...and I decided on Colonia Suissa...aparrently an old community settled by (yes, you guessed it...) Swiss folks. I arrived around 9pm...checked into this cool old hotel that also has Intl. Youth Hostel affiliation. Dinner was pretty good and I talked with the folks there for quite a while...the Uruguayan people here are very nice.
Went to sleep.