Channelling the Cane Spirits in South America travel blog

Punta View

Not so Hot Rod


Punta fishing boats

Thursday 25.10.07

Between the hostel recepcionista opening emails at 5am and a snoring roommate, my sleep patterns were sufficiently disturbed to ensure i overslept, to be frantically woken by my English travelling buddies an hour late and hurried to the ferry terminal. We were leaving Argentina for Uruguay, just across the Rio de la Plata.

The drab blue painted ferry looked like a huge prison transport from the rear, and what transpired for the next few hours was tantamount to torture in comfortable chairs when the football hooligans showed up. There was apparently a match to be played in Montevideo (Uruguay's capital) that evening between a local team, Defensor and River Plate, one of the biggest clubs in Argentina. The pre-match chanting begun even before we launched from the Argentinian shore, accompanied by wall and table banging, foot-stomping and other loutish behaviour; the combined effects of which eventually felt akin to taking a cheesegrater to the ears. When we alighted in Colonia del Sacramento and boarded a coach for Montevideo, we found with considerable relief that the band of lunatics were on a different bus.

Two bus journeys, a couple of siestas and five hours later, we were over the other side of the country at Punta del Este - the most popular beach resort in South America, crowded with Brasilians and Argentinians during summer. As night fell just two months before Christmas it was apparent the town's many apartment blocks were unoccupied at this time and its eating places woefully barren.

When i finally emerged from our gloomy dormitory after a night of asymmetrical precipitation outside, i ascertained why the place had such a reputation with the beach-going elite. With shades of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, palm trees line the sweeping beachfront promenades and even the condominiums appear stately against bright blue sky. The prime real-estate is found on a slender promontory and near its tip lies a wharf, berthing several yachts only fathomless pockets could float. Right next door was a sizable flotilla of humble fishing boats, with ocean gulls and black seals frolicking nearby, probably waiting for the next business trip to return.

The Uruguayan sun was much stronger than we expected, and every single one of us was burned while sunbathing on the sand. I spent Friday evening with some girls from Montevideo i had met on the bus and their friend Adam from Canada, and discovered the radiation from our nearest star had got the better of them as well. Despite the prodigious amount of underage drinking that was occurring all over the promenade, there was not a bar open at night in the town.

We were far more cautious on Saturday with our bodies. With apparently nothing at all to do in Punta del Este apart from tomar sol (sunbathe), from which our bodies forbade us, we jumped aboard the bus in the early evening for Montevideo.

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