Saturday, October 29, 2011

Uruguay: Fun, Fun, Fun. The trip that couldn't go wrong

As our plane from Asunción, Paraguay started to descend into the airport - supposedly located in Montevideo, Uruguay - I could not stop laughing as I looked out the window. I was looking for the city we were supposed to spend the next couple of days in but didn't see anything. (Some might call that nervous laughter.) There were no tall buildings, neighborhoods, busy streets, nothing-- Just an airport that appeared to be in the middle of the countryside. Our plan to get off the plane on our own, with absolutely no plans seemed a little precarious at this point.

Ok, hold up, explanation needed: So why in the world were we stopping here you ask? Well, our group had just spent 2 amazing weeks traveling through South America… our first week was spent all together in Porto Alegre, Brazil with a side excursion to Iguaçu Falls. Then, we split up, half of our program going to Uruguay and the other half to Paraguay (more blogging on these trips to come… yes, it will be a little bit out of order, but that’s just how my mind is working right now… everything’s a bit jumbled) Anyways, I was with the group that went to Paraguay, and on Thursday we were heading back to Buenos Aires via plane… BUT, the plane that we were taking back had a short layover in Montevideo. SO, my adventure buddies (Ben and Noah) and I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to explore Uruguay for the weekend.

We literally walked off the plane with absolutely no idea where the city was, no idea how to get to the city, no hostel reservation, no idea what there was to do, no tickets back to Buenos Aires, nothing. For someone who plans out every hour of her day back at Hopkins, this was a bit uncharacteristic….no, VERY uncharacteristic. But I was ready to just go with the flow… whatever happens, happens. It was adventure time! Our first task in the airport was to exchange some money for pesos Uruguayos: success! Second task, find a map: FAIL. No map to be found… this could make things difficult. But after talking to some man at some booth, we learned that we could take a bus into the city for a few dollars – and from there we could find our hostel… hopefully. (we had an address, but were unsure if there would be any beds available). As soon as we walked outside we realized how truly unprepared we were… especially me -- It was MUCH colder in Uruguay, people were wearing winter jackets… I had a dress on… and it was windy. This would be interesting. Luckily, we only had to wait about 2 minutes for the bus to show up and soon enough we were cruising through beautiful Uruguayan countryside. (So far, so good!) Eventually, we were dropped off in the middle of the city. Time to find our hostel. Still no map. Relying solely on the directions from people we asked in the streets, we successfully found Red Hostel. And better yet, they had room for us to stay! (On a roll!) The rest of our trip continued like so: start out with no plan, ask for a little advice, sort of make a plan, let everything work out much, much better than expected. EVERYTHING was in our favor this weekend - it was pretty incredible. (…also, it was a nice change from the typical Ferguson luck.)

On Friday, we spent the day walking all over Montevideo (the capital of Uruguay). It was a perfect day for walking around… apparently it had been really cold earlier in the week, but no joke, it was sunny without a single cloud in the sky as we explored the city. We walked to this older part of town with neat buildings and ate lunch at an awesome parilla - where we sat at a bar with a humongous grill right in front of us. A legit kinda grill…there was a wood burning fire next to it and they spread the coals from the fire underneath the grate to cook the meat. Everything was prepared right in front of us… it was a really unique setting and the smells were heavenly. (It smelt almost as good as my deck at home does when pulled pork is on the Big Green Egg…almost.) When we were deciding what to order, we saw a huge platter being prepared so Ben asked the cook, “Is that for 2 people or 4?”…. The cook looked up at him in a way that made us all feel kinda pathetic, and responded, “Este es para uno.” [This is for one.] haha… we were clearly not ready for this meal. The three of us ended up sharing the Asado Completo for 2, it came in a big tray with 5 or 6 different kinds of meat… in short it was delicious and more than enough for all of us. We spent the rest of the afternoon walking along the boardwalk next to the river and relaxing in a park… (…playing the nut game…you had to throw these little coffee bean nut things into a circle on the side walk, I was the only one who didn’t get one in, I hate losing, I was not happy,... but then I remembered we were in Montevideo, so I was happy again.) After a nice nap back at the hostel, we ventured back out to watch an acapella group perform outside city hall – they were actually really good! We then decided we needed a lighter dinner after our extra filling lunch. We ended up picking up some cereal from the grocery store and eating it at on the roof of our hostel… it was perfect. Oh, and we star gazed, my faave! And saw a shooting star!! Couldn’t have been happier.

This morning (Friday) we decided we wanted to spend the day in Colonia, a well-known city in Uruguay close to the Argentine border, and then take a boat back to Buenos Aires in the evening. As we headed to the bus station, it was looking like a pretty overcast, rainy day and it seemed as if the great weather, and our luck that had brought it, was coming to an end. That assumption was quickly proven to be wrong… we entered the bus station without any idea which bus to take or what the schedules for them were-- we walked in at 9:23 am, saw that a bus was leaving at 9:30, bought a ticket, casually walked over to where the bus was parked, hopped on and the bus pulled away only minutes later. Perfect. Two hours later we arrived in Colonia, the sky was clear and the sun was shining once again. As we explored Colonia we discovered that it was one of the most beautiful little towns. It was complete with gorgeous cobblestone, tree-lined streets, old rustic brick buildings, cute colorful houses, a lighthouse, and a marvelous rocky shoreline perfect for naps, reading, a bit of climbing, and getting your feet wet in the icy water.

We made it back to the port, got our Uruguayan passport stamp, got on the boat and arrived back in Buenos Aires at about 5:15pm. Although it was sad that this exciting adventure had come to an end, it felt good to know exactly where I was, where I was going and how I could get there. Traveling without plans was kind of thrilling, anything could have happened. We had luck on our side this time, but even if we hadn’t, it wouldn’t really have mattered -- I was with great friends who could make any situation that seemed “dumb, dumb, dumb” turn into one that was “fun, fun, fun.”


  1. It's like the Motorcycle Diaries, but with public transportation and awesome food.

  2. Crickets are chirping. Weeds are growing around the masthead. Perhaps I should check Youtube. Where is that new Air Force cadet dance video?

  3. I KNOW! Discúlpame! but now there's a teaser just for you mojonetic...more to come mañana hopefully!... if not and :)