Uruguay land of huge pasture lands, Gauchos, and beautiful sandy beaches..
As soon as we entered the customs office across the Rio Uruguay we knew we were going to enjoy this country. It took all of a half hour to get all the paperwork done and passports stamped.. A record. We began driving across the county toward the East Coast beaches, which we had heard were beautiful. This was quite a long drive and we found a small little town in the foot hills of the central part of the country that of course had a municipal campground. We had driven for most of the afternoon across endless pastureland and flat countryside.. These hills we were in was in fact some of the highest ground in Uruguay.
A beautiful little valley Called Eden.. It was also the town in which Carlos Gardel was born. They had a nice little museum that had as much evidence as you could hope for to prove beyond a shadow of doubt, that Carlos was born here. He was a movie star in the late 30's and was a singer and promoter of the Tango.
In the evening it seems like all the gauchos gather their horses and take them to bath or water in the rivers and streams... They were large numbers of them on there way to something, we later thought that we had really missed an opportunity by not following them. But we needed gas and Uruguayan money in the next little town nearby.
The next day we drove to the northern east coast of Uruguay, to a beach community of Laguna Merin. After Easter or Semana Santos, things close for the season and the little town was almost empty with all the little beach bungalows boarded up and most of the stores closed. We camped free that night in the municipal campground. And met a nice Uruguayan couple that were the only other people camping. It was rainy and windy. The following morning we talked with the couple and got a tour with photos on his computer of all the things to see along the coast of Uruguay... What a nice jester.. we gave him coffee and he offered us some Mate.. These Uruguayans drink more Mate than the Argentinians.. It is as if they can not be seen without a mate gourd in hand.. He told us of the road to Chuy and how it crossed a ferry and that the road was dirt but in good shape.. So we drove onto Chuy.
Again it was miles of long pastureland with marshes and birds everywhere.. We had lunch along a river that you could only get across by a two car ferry, free.
Chuy is on the boarder with Brazil and is a tax free zone. So we saw many Brazilian cars in town. We found a campground with a thermal pool and stayed there for a couple of days. We drove out onto the beach and actually legally drove into Brazil.. a new country for Karla.. No need for all the hassle of paperwork, etc. I did get back into Uruguay quickly. While in Chuy we bought a small propane tank for a stove. That took most of one day getting it filled and finding a small stove fitting to hook it up to. LPG is not an easy thing to get filled. Each country has its own connections to the tanks, and they measure the filling by weight not volume..our American tank with its special US connection was impossible to fill. So we bought a Uruguayan tank with a Brazilian adapter to fit a little stove to..
After all morning solving our cooking problem.. We were starved and asked where there was a good restaurant. We were given directions to a great upscale place. This was a typical Brazilian type of parrilla. We sat and were told to go and get your salad, beans, and fries at a buffet. Then the party began, three different waiters carried around the tables many different kinds of meat(sausage, beef, pork, chicken, goat) they would cut what pieces you wanted. You could eat as much as you wanted.. before I knew it I was full of every king of meat they had, even liver, ewwww. We were so full after wards that I am surprised I made it back to our camp without falling asleep at the wheel..
We recovered and went for a walk out on the beach, which was endless. On our way back to the campground we stooped at a little open cafe and had some of Uruguayan half and half(medio medio) Half wine and half sparkling wine.. Not bad.. while we were drinking this and enjoying our recovery form our huge lunch, a Swiss Landcruiser drove up.. we hailed them over for a drink... Frank and Carol had been traveling in South America off and on for the last *8 years... What an interesting couple. They spoke good Spanish and had quite a story to tell.. Carol had breast cancer and was treated in San Rafiel, Argentina. She had the best of care, with chemo as well.. These two were tough.. We made plans to try and meet up with them again in the small little town of Punto Del Diablo.
We enjoyed the thermal bath that evening.
We visited the National Park Santa Teresa, with its beautiful beach and the old Portuguese/Spanish fort the next day. From the park we could see the little town of Punto Del Diablo and I spotted the place that we would eventually stay for the next three days.. What a great little spot on the beach next to the town. Frank and Carol from Switzerland also parked here and we visited and enjoyed the next couple of days on the beach reading and tinkering with our rigs.. We were a focal point for travelers and had a number of people visit us and asked questions etc. US, Canada, Ireland, Uruguay and Argentina. We did meet a couple that we had met before in Ushuia. They were renting a place for a month here.. They had backpacked the Andes and were resting before they went home to New Hampshire. We had a couple of great nights talking, watching the scenery(nice suits down here) and drinking the local vintage. We also got hooked up with a shower..nice. Thanks to Richard and Coleen.
After a nice break from daily travel, we were back on the road again south along the coast. We toured coastal road, ripio and paved. We found sand dunes, and lagunas with hundreds of black necked swans and flamingos.. The next three days we camped along the coast and found some nice free sites. We got rained on and at one site we were stuck in the mud.. thanks to the locals for help out of the hole.. Karla took a liking to visiting all of the light housed that were still in operation, we climbed to the top of one to see a huge Southern Sea Lion colony on the rock nearby.. La Paloma, Punta Ribia, Bancarena, Playa Santa Ana were the places that we camped.
We finally made it to Colonial del Sacramento to connect with a garage owner that stores vehicles. We had his address and knock on his door and here we found Senor Delgado, a nice senior gentleman. We talked in sign language mostly, and broken Spanish and English and finally worked out the cost and the terms. He then took us over to the garage and showed us where he would put Paco... the advantage of storing it here in Uruguay was that our permit to import was good for a full 365days, compared to the 8 months in Argentina. We told Senor Delgado and his wife that we would discuss this with one another that evening and also work out how long we wanted to store Paco. We also need to check out air fares and book plane tickets which we did. Found a nice arrangement with Continental and bought our tickets for the round trip from Buenos Aires and back.
The following morning we made the deposit and arrangements for storage with Mr and Mrs Delgado. We also spent the morning with him taking us to various mechanics and parts store to see about getting the boots replaced on the rear CV joints. After that we had a great Parrilla at our favorite little restaurant in the old part of the fort with a beautiful view of the coast along the Rio de la Plata. So it was final we were coming back next January.. We spent as you can well believe, many hours talking about the pluses and minuses and what we would do upon our return. So by the time we meet Mr Delgado we had it pretty well figured out that we would do it.
We spent the next couple of days driving up the Rio Uruguay to cross back into Argentina at the same place we entered more than two ago. We camped the last evening in Uruguay at a public campground called Las Canas. This was near another bridge that crossed over into Argentina. This bridge had been block by protestors for over five years now because of a dispute with the Uruguayans for allowing a huge paper mill that had been built along the Rio Uruguay. Environmental groups in Argentina were convinced that the plant would pollute the river. So with this bridge closed we had to drive another almost 200 km to exit Uruguay.
After lunch along the Rio Uruguay we crossed back over into Argentina. Uruguay was wonderful, the people and the casual atmosphere of an somewhat still agrarian life style was comforting and restful. We can't wait to return...