Colonia del Sacramento Travel Blog

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It seems that this American world
Is waiting for that girl
For the stars to shine in her eyes,
For its wind to caress her,
For its flowers to have someone
To pick up the essence of their souls,
And the currents of its great rivers,
Someone to listen to and love its vague songs.

Tabaré - Juan Zorrilla de San Martín

Colonia is a peaceful old town, which is reasonably small so it is easy enough to walk around, explore and take pictures of the Portuguese colonial buildings and streets.

Only an hour by boat from Buenos Aires, Colonia is popular as a tourist destination. There appears to be plenty of accommodation to suit various budgets. No visas are actually issued on arrival at this port in Uruguay. It would seem that the exit stamp from Argentina is sufficient.

I stayed at a hostel not far from the port, which charged $US9 for a 4 bed dorm. Over the three nights there, people from other countries in the room included Canada, Czech Republic, Ecuador & Finland. Most were moving onto either Buenos Aires or Montevideo (2 hours by bus). Being winter, the place was fairly quiet. The staff at the hostel could speak minimal English, and something somewhat peculiar occurred after I paid for the third night's accommodation in advance (on the second day). An hour or so later, the woman day manager came to my room saying she had been counting cash in the office, and could not find the $US10 note I gave her.

I clearly remembered her giving me a $1 note as change, so I showed the receipt I'd earlier asked for and received. She went away gesturing and saying she would have to put the money in herself. It would seem that she wanted me to pay again to make up for her mistake. Fifteen minutes later, she came back advising she had found the $10 bill.

A point to mention is at all times when any payments were to be made, this woman was extremely clear and inflexible with her procedures, even to the extent of being a  tad rude. However, this could have all been attributable to her weak communication skills. Perhaps, she was also just a bit forgetful. I didn't pay any more attention to this incident until I went to check out next morning. A different woman was on duty. When I handed in the room locker key, she said that no deposit had been paid for the key, and showed me where this had been written in Spanish.

I checked my receipt and noticed that the $US5 deposit had not been written down, so there was no point arguing. Besides, this lady couldn't speak any English at all. It was probably a good thing I'd paid for the room in advance, so there could be no other misunderstandings or confusion.

While walking down to the port, I could understand what had occurred at the hostel, but wasn't too perturbed. Once at the boat terminal, I went to the immigration counter and the Uruguay official asked for my entry ticket into Uruguay. I didn't know what he was talking about. As earlier mentioned, there was no stamping of visas on arrival at this port. I was shown my return boat ticket, and told that I had to produce my ticket from the inward journey or pay a fine. This guy's English became very good when I asked how much? He quickly responded with "five thousand five hundred" referring to Uruguay currency.

If I understood him correctly, this amount would convert to $US250. I told him I'll stay in Uruguay rather than pay a fine to him. I also stated that the exit stamp from Argentina was proof of my arrival. He didn't argue at all. He simply gave my passport to the Argentine official next to him, who automatically stamped a 90 day Argentine tourist visa very neatly in it. Having been in China for many years, the thought that came to my mind was that the Uruguay official was trying his luck asking for an exorbitant fine from a foreigner. You know, when this sort of thing happens when leaving a country, the benefit is there is no remorse about moving on. Farewell, Uruguay ...


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