2016 South America Trip – Uruguay

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A “tiny planet” picture of Punta del Este, Uruguay.

Last month we took a two-week trip to South America. When taking a trip like this back in the day, I’d usually write up some kind of short stories or at least upload some cool pictures, but the truth is I’m a bit rusty with this whole blogging thing. I’ve been writing quite a few posts for FluentU, but that’s a whole different thing, and I’ve definitely gotten out of the habit of blogging as it relates to my personal life and traveling. In any case, we’ve barely traveled in the nearly two years since Will was born, except for the trips to visit my family in Colorado or an occasional night or two at the beach.

But I thought I’d still write about the trip and put up some pictures, if for no other reason than I’ll probably like to read it about 10 years from now (and I’ll invariably have forgotten most of the details, so it’ll work as a kind of after-the-fact journal). I will also put up some posts about other aspects of the trip in the next days and weeks, but if you have any comments or questions, just let me know. I’ll probably divide the trip into three parts, and today we’ll start with Uruguay, where the trip also began. Also, you can check out more pictures here, but keep in mind that if Will is in any of them, they’re marked only for friends and family. If that includes you, you can add me on Flickr if you’d like to see them.

The main reason we even decided to go on the trip was because my brother Paul was traveling around the continent for 50 days to celebrate his 30th birthday, and he’d invited any family and friends who wanted to join in on the fun to do so. (Check out his great collection of pictures from his trip here.)

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The four of us in Punta del Este, Uruguay. Really nice place.

Originally I thought it wouldn’t work out because of time, money, and the glaring fact that we have a boy who’s under two years old. But then I actually checked it out more and I was able to use frequent flyer miles and get the tickets for nearly free, and for some reason the tickets in business class were the same number of miles as economy tickets! (I may write more about that part later.) It was also good timing in terms of our kid because until they’re two years old, infants can sit on your lap.

So that’s the boring background, but let’s get to some pictures.

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At the Montevideo airport. It was actually really nice and charming, with only 4 gates! That’s even smaller than Costa Rica’s airport. They even had free strollers to use in the terminal, which was a cool touch.

We met up with Paul in Montevideo, Uruguay, at the tail end of his trip. The flights from Costa Rica to Montevideo via Panama were a bit tiring, even in business class. Will was just a bit of a pain in the butt, a theme that was going to crop up again and again on this trip, especially when we were moving in vehicles or sitting in places where he couldn’t walk in circles for hours.

Still, the Uruguay leg started very well. We went to Punta del Este, a beach city on the eastern edge of Uruguay, as its name indicates. We rented a VW Golf, which turned out to be pretty handy for our stay in the country, although it was also a bit pricey; thankfully we only had to fill up the tank right when we got it, but even then it was about $70!

I was surprised about Punta del Este, since it has a reputation in this part of the world as being a big party city, especially for people traveling from Argentina. Maybe it’s because we didn’t go out at night really, but we didn’t experience a party atmosphere at all. Instead, we remarked about the ample parking, the beautiful, wide beaches, and the generally laid-back city/beach atmosphere.

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“Los Dedos,” or “The Fingers,” a famous (as these things go) sculpture in Punta del Este, Uruguay.

We were also staying at a really nice “apart-hotel” outside of the main city, so that helped. It had two rooms, two bathrooms (with a bidet for each!), a living and dining room, and a kitchen, so we were able to cook our own food and make ourselves at home. We only stayed there for two nights, but knowing what we know now, we probably would have done better to stay there a bit longer.

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Paul and Will on the beach in front of our hotel. It was a really long beach (you can see it stretches waaaay out in the horizon, and also in the other direction), and it was also pretty nice since it wasn’t incredibly hot, humid, and stifling, like the beaches we’re used to here in Costa Rica.

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A sailboat on the water in front of our hotel in Punta del Este.

We moved on to Colonia del Sacramento, which lies just across the river from Buenos Aires. It’s an old colonial city (also as its name indicates) with lots of nice old buildings and cobblestone streets that are nice to look at but crappy to push a stroller on. We decided to stay there a few days since Angela and I had been there in 2011 and liked it a lot.

This time we stayed in an Airbnb house that was outside of the city next to a vineyard. It was really beautiful and idyllic, but due to a twist of fate and a nipple-twist of nature, it was hot as balls that day (38 degrees celsius; about 100 degrees Fahrenheit) and a huge storm rolled in that night. The small house we were staying in didn’t have AC, so although it would normally not have been a problem to open the windows and let the fans pull in cool air, there were a few problems with that.

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A moment of non-whiny calm in Colonia del Sacramento, Urugay. Nice bench, too!

First of all, the air didn’t cool down, and second of all, the wind and rain from the storm came in through the windows and knocked over the fans. So we basically had to shutter or close the windows and lay in bed sweating. It was really cool to see the near-constant lightning, though, but feeling sweat trickle down from the inside of my knee at 2:30 am took away a bit of that thrill.

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Paul and Will on the porch of the Airbnb house we rented outside of Colonia.

Anyhow, that was a rough night and none of us really slept much. To add to the problems, all of us but Paul started getting a bit sick, so it was not very neat to say the least. And that day was his birthday! Will was whiny, we were feeling crappy, and it was still super hot. But at least we were able to help make his 30th birthday memorable, I suppose.

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On Paul’s birthday. You can see the cobblestone streets, the whiny baby, and the frayed nerves.

Because of the hot nights and small spaces, we cut short our stay in the casita by one day and moved to a hotel in the city. That’s also were we met up with our friend Milton, who we met in 2011 and had kept in contact with since then. He invited us to his house to meet his lovely family, and we had a nice, cool (air conditioned!) chat and ate some tasty ice cream. That was a great high point after a few difficult days.

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With Milton and his lovely family.

From Colonia, we headed on a ferry to Buenos Aires. I’ll write about that and put up some pictures in the next day (or week or month) or two. Thanks for reading!

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Sunset panorama in Punta del Este, Uruguay.

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Sitzman

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