This is the last entry of my international trip. I may put in some stuff from my upcoming road trip to D.C. But I haven't decided on that. Punta del este was a very interesting vibrant destination. Think a cross between South Beach in Miami and Las Vegas. Punta is a finger extending out into the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Rio de la Plata on the other where the river converges into the ocean. My house was conveniently located right in the center of the town so if I walked 3 blocks one way I was at the beautiful beach and 2 blocks the other way I was on the shores of the river. Surprisingly, I favored the river shore. Huge modern condo buildings line the streets most of which were unoccupied during my visit since the season doesn't start until December 15th and goes to about March, their summer. I can't imagine the huge huge number of people that converge onto the streets and fill the restaurants and bars and stores once the season starts and all the units are occupied. Apparently this is THE destination for the summer. The condo units with ocean or river views or both go from between $125k to 500k for a 2 or 3 bedroom 2 bath depending on the amenities of the building. Some are complete even with maid service. The area expands for a mile or so both up the river and down the coast with smaller towns from there. Everything is clean and modern. Stores include big names such as Valentino, etc.
I took the Cot bus which is probably the best long distance bus I've been on anywhere and was only about $11 from Montevideo - a 2 1/2 hour trip. The bus station is right downtown in Punta.
When I arrived to my Airbnb the hostess was out of sorts and she apologized and explained that her dog was sick with cancer and not doing well. The dog was clearly old and feeble but was walking around a little. The next morning the dog was not doing well and the host was fretting over what to do. We talked about this and after looking at the poor dog and seeing her shallow breathing and coupled with the fact she wouldn't eat or drink or move this morning, I gently told the host it looked like it was time for the poor dog to be put down. She continued to fret and I left her to her thoughts and went to my room to get ready to go out for the day. When I came out the house was quiet and I went past the dog and was going to pet her and, much to my dismay, the poor dog had expired right there on the living room floor. I called out to my host but there was no answer so I phone her and she said she was down at the corner and I told her to come back. She came back but hadn't grasped why I had called so I met her at the door solemn faced and it was downhill after that. It was awful. I sat with her for awhile and explained that the poor dog had no doubt waited until she had left to die because she wouldn't have wanted to die in front of her. I asked her to call her friend to come help her so she did and I left her shortly thereafter. Not a great way to end my travels but I was glad I could do what I could to help her with her poor pup.
One day I took the bus south about 50 minutes to a town on the ocean called Jose Ignacio and it was picturesque with lots of small and large houses and a few small stores and cafes. An upscale beachfront restaurant and a lighthouse attracted what few visitors were there. Apparently there are throngs of people during the season.
The other day I took the bus about 15 minutes South to a little town called La Barra which has a lot of little stores along the main road. Not much was open since it's not yet the season and when they do open for the day it's not until 12 noon. This includes all the cafes and restaurants. This town is SLOW.
Overall Uruguay was one of my favorite countries. There is such a wide range of places from historically old to sleek and modern. Prices for food and drink are about the same as the US although wine and beer are a bit cheaper. The real estate is definitely more affordable. The people are nice and unpretentious. There are beautiful beaches and countryside. Locals relax in the afternoon by taking their beach chairs down to the ramblas by the river and lining up on the sidewalks to enjoy the sea air and to people watch - of course Mate in hand.
There was a lot of construction going on like new decks being built for cafes, painting, building refurbishment, etc. I asked a local about this while we were waiting for the bus and she verified that the construction was to get ready for the season. She said that the number of tourists is unbelievable and that the streets in even these small sleepy towns is unbelievable. But the locals don't mind the intrusion since the tourist season is their primary source of revenue. I took the Cot bus to the Montevideo airport which is 1 3/4 hours back the way to Montevideo and got on the 9 hour red eye plane ride to Miami. The captain of my flight was retiring and this was his last flight so the airport fire station lined up a fire truck and a bunch of people on the runway and sprayed the plane with water as we taxied toward the runway.
South America is my favorite place to travel now and I think I will do a lot more exploring down this way. Highly recommend!!
Thanks for reading my journal. It's a lot of work to upload the pictures but I'm glad I did it so I don't forget which pics go with which place. I've already forgotten in which town certain things happened in Europe or what I did there so I'm glad to have it as a reference. I'm hoping some day I won't have to refer to myself as a SAT although I doubt that day will ever come. Half smiley half sad face.