Welcome to Uruguay and its Independence Day
Salto Travel Blog› entry 56 of 65 › view all entries
The boat to Uruguay was a short 15 minute journey. We arrived to a delapidated dock and as it has been on this stretch, it is odd to feel like you are walking on history. At immigrations the officials, started talking about politics with Danilo, and after a little talk about Bachellet and how bad politicians are in Uruguay, they started talking about Pinochet, how he was great, how he set the country straight, and that now because of him Chile is doing well. Partly true, but altogether ignores the 17 years of repression, tortures, deaths and exiles, and the terrible effects that a very neoliberal economy has had on the lower and lower/middle classes. Incredibly, Danilo managed to bite his tounge (hello? is that you maturity?) and we were let in to Uruguay with no problems. Another easy border.
We found a nice little place with a garden, heat, and cable TV. The heat did not work at all and the bed was terrible but all in all it was a nice place to call home for the night. We headed out into the little town of Salto to find money and explore. We found money and spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the nice, almost European streets. There were lots of cafes and little shops, so it was a pleasant place to wander and eat some delicious pancakes with dulce de leche and tea. Yum. We did some grocery shopping and bought dinner and breakfast for the next morning. We stopped at a little kiosk to buy some beer and when we asked the man if we could return the bottle tomorrow he replied "we´re closed tomorrow, its the 18th of July". Oh no, here we go again. "What is the 18th of July?" we asked. Come to find out its a national Uruguayian holiday and no one is going to work. This is now the second time in 10 days we have entered a country on their national holiday, kind of amazing. So we headed back to the hotel for a laid back night: drank our beer, ate omelets with ridiculously good ham and cheese, and watched TV.
We planned on going to the thermal baths, called Termas del Dayman, that were 30 minutes from Salto but we were not sure whether we´d be able to get there since it was a national holiday. As it turns out, the buses were running and lots of people we going to the baths on their day off so everything around it there was open. It was quite a chilly morning and we weren´t positive we wanted to get into our bathing suits and dip into water but the thermal baths looked so steamy and nice and there were enough people in them that we could convince ourselves we were not crazy. Luckily, the water was quite hot, at between 85F and 106F. We should also mention that of all the thermal baths we´ve been to, these were by far the nicest. They were very well laid out, there were seperate pools for kids, lots of small inexpensive restaurants, picnic tables, and pools of differing temperatures. Plus, entry was only $2. Two thumbs way up, good family fun. We soaked for a long while and by the time we were ready to get out and have lunch, the sun had come out and it was a lovely warm day. So we changed, warmed ourselves underbthe sun, and ate a delicious cheeseburger for lunch.
After lunch, we walked around the town for a few minutes but there wasn´t much there except for a few shops and a bunch of restaurants and hotels catered to the thermal baths. We caught the bus back to Salto and spent the rest of the lovely afternoon strolling and eating. Our favorite things to do. It is amazing how similar Uruguay is to Argentina. All the other countries we have been are very different from one another. This is the first time that we have crossed a border and not realized immediately that we were in another country. Really, the only thing so far that we can tell is different is the currency. At 5:30 we caught a bus to our next destiniation. These border towns are so much nicer on the Atlantic side than they were on the Pacific side.