Yes! Today is my last night in Uruguay. I am in Salto tonight and I will cross over to Argentina early Monday Sept. 3. Thank God! I can´t say I will miss Uruguay. Not to offend any uruguayos who may read this, but my experience here was not the best. I guess it was the wrong time of year. in summer, Punta del Este is supposed to be the Rio de Janeiro of Uruguay.
Anyway, I will try to be fair and list the pros and cons of my two weeks in Uruguay.
- The grilled beef on the parrilla was excellent. If you like meat, you will like Uruguay.
- The weather, although cold, was nice and sunny most of the time. I shudder to think what would have happened if it rained and was cold as well.
- There was some nice quiet countryside. Lots of cows (you know you are struggling to find something good to say if ‘lots of cows’ is one positive thing).
- Colonia del Sacramento was a nice old town
- The thermal springs of Guaviyu were superb. 38 deg C. I soaked in them for an hour until I had wrinkled fingers. Hey that could be the name of a band,´The Wrinkled Fingers’.
- Uruguay is cheap. Hotel $10, dinner $8.
- The few people I met were friendly. More so than I was. I was in a bad mood most of the time.
- There is never a shortage of football (soccer). My first hour in Uruguay, in the taxi to my hotel, the driver gave me a detailed history of football in Uruguay, back to 1916. In any hotel you can switch on the TV and see at least 4-5 different football games.
- The 1 liter bottles of beer ($2)
- The drivers were pretty bike-friendly. There are lot of cyclists here so they give you plenty of room.
OK, now the dirt:
- It was COLD. (I know this is not strictly Uruguay´s fault, but I am taking it out on them). The summer is supposed to be nice. As it was, my bare legs saw the light of uruguay only once in 2 weeks.
- The countryside was BORING. Cows, sheep, horses and wheat. Yawn. Thank God for my iPod.
- I fell once (I blame this on their uneven roads).
- Although lots of dogs, only one came roaring at me snarling and barking like Cujo. I quickly pulled out my pepper spray and hit him right in the face from 3 feet. It was satisfying to see him sneeze and claw at his eyes. He actually came after me twice more before giving up, but as soon as I raised my arm again he backed off. Ha.
- Free camping was difficult due to the fences and little real estate that was not fully occupied by cows, horses or crops. The worst was when I had to sleep in a cow pasture and woke up with cow poo on everything. Yech!
- My back injury. Again, I can´t blame this on Uruguay, but it happened here so…
- My maps were not the best, causing me to get lost on more than one occassion and forcing me to stick to main roads, which I detest.
OK, there you have it.
Here´s a few last pix from Uruguay:
This is a poor farmer and his son. I stopped near their house and they came out to chat. He is 48, can´t find a job, so makes his living making honey and candies and selling dairy products from his 3 cows (one died last winter because he could not afford to feed it. )He also has a tractor but can´t afford fuel to run it. They invited me in to their house but he was too depressing so I declined.
Katrina, you asked about the food. Here is a typical concoction when camping: a packet of soup, some water, a few veggies (carrots and green peppers) and six cut up hot dogs. Boil until it seems ready. Eat with bread and water. Yum. I call it hot dog soup.
This was where I was forced to camp in a cow pasture, among the cow pies. Most were dried up, but not all, as I discovered the following morning.
This one I just call “Kev eating pear on railroad tracks”.