Punta Del Este
Punta del Este Travel Blog› entry 7 of 38 › view all entries
The coast of Uruguay is a beautiful mixture of sand dunes, rocks, white sand beaches, and open forests. On Saturday, Carol and I took a day trip up this coast to the resort town of Punta Del Este. Punta Del Este marks the divide between the Rio de la Plata, 220 km wide here, and the Atlantic Ocean. Located on a pennisula, Punta Del Este is surrounded by a wide variety of beaches and in the summer families, partiers, and the rich and famous of South America flock to its shores. In the winter the beaches are empty but the vistas are still spectacular. Carol, who was born in Uruguay but spent much of her life in Canada, has been extemely kind to me and has been very excited to have a companion to play tourist with. We had a very enjoyable day exploring the beaches of Punta and sampling the local delacacies.
Food in Uruguay is expensive. In fact, most things cost roughly the same as in Canada despite the fact that the average salary here is 220 American dollars a month. Once known as the Switzerland of South America, Uruguay now struggles by on its industries of farming and tourism. There is an omnipresent underculture of homelessness and vagrancy even in the heavily controlled tourist areas. The people I meet here work so hard to make ends meet. Maria, my homestay mother, is a single mother who doesn´t own a car, rents out 2 rooms of her house and works from sun up to sun down to maintain her house and send her children to private school because the public school system is substandard. At the end of the day, she is always thankful that she can just sit down and put her feet up. She is an amazing woman and I respect her efforts greatly. There is a new government here that is promising big changes but people have little faith that the government has the experience or the gumption to make a real impact.
On Sunday, I took the bus to Colonia de Sacremento, an old colonial town just across the river from Buenos Aires. It is a very nice town of cobblestone streets, old buildings, restaurants, and artisans. These little day trips are very pleasant and logistically easy. My life will become much more messy next week when I leave Uruguay and head north. I have spent hours studying my map of South America but my route is not clear. There is too much to see and too much to do. I had originally planned to leave Uruguay through the north but a paperworkers´strike has closed the bridges to Argentina so I may have to backtrack through Buenos Aires before going in search of summer.