“Welcome to the Hotel California…”
“Hey, did you read the blog article I posted last night?”
“That’s exactly what I explained, we’re stuck in Montevideo, I quoted Hotel California.”
Yesterday morning, we had less than 24 hours to find a way out of Montevideo—we either had no transportation or no hotel.
Flying from Montevideo to anywhere was very expensive—besides, Uruguay isn’t exactly a major hub, all the flights go through Buenos Aires. We could technically backtrack to Argentina, taking the bus and the boat again, but then we still had to fly to somewhere after that. Or we could go East, along the Uruguayan coast, but then there was no affordable hotel on the way.
Basically, many “but” and no perfect solution.
“Okay, I may have found a place in Punta del Diablo… It’s for one night only. And it’s expensive. And it’s far from the bus station. Also, I think there’s no Wi-Fi.”
“That’s perfect!” I joked. “If they don’t have Wi-Fi, they can’t get our booking, so they can’t cancel it at the last minute. Awesome.”
“But for one night…”
“… Why do we even stop, I know.”
“So we go to Chuy directly.”
“Chuy is now plan A.”
“That’s a new low when Chuy is plan A.”
Good old Chuy/Chuí is the main border crossing between Uruguay and Brazil. We have a cute nickname for it—“fucking Chuí.” As a very stoned American citizen wisely professed during a three-minute conversation in Montevideo, “Chuí is seedy as fuck.”
It is. It’s also a long five-hour bus ride from Montevideo and there are so many things wrong with this town I don’t even know where to start.
But Chuy was now plan A, so once again, we walked all the way up to Montevideo’s Tres Cruces bus terminal to buy tickets.
“Tres boletos para Chuy por favor. Mañana, el bús de las 9:40.”
“Solo quedan dos asientos.”
Of course, the bus was almost full. We couldn’t buy two tickets and squeeze Mark in the middle for five hours.
The next bus? At 11 p.m.
“Hey, Feng, wanna arrive at Chuy at 4 a.m.?”
“Who the fuck takes this bus?”
“People who are more masochist than us?”
We found another bus company. This time, we were able to buy three tickets, but the bus left earlier in the morning.
We didn’t even try to book a hotel in Chuy. We’d figure out once we arrive.
“Okay, let’s enjoy the luxury of our place in Montevideo for a few more hours…”
It was a strange last day in Montevideo. It was suddenly much cooler, around 25ºC, and very windy. We walked along the ramblas and watched the stormy sea until we were splashed by the waves.
Mark can’t walk properly. He jumps around imaginary obstacles like Super Mario Bros. “There’s lava here, so obviously I had to jump!” he explains. Usually, it annoys me, but today I felt like jumping around too.
So we jumped, because we were once again going for a long bus ride, because we were jumping over the roadblock that was the Uruguyan coast and because we were jumping into the known unknown.
I’m not mentally ready for Brazil—the scale of the country, the language, the cultural differences, the giant cities, the challenges ahead.
But in less than 24 hours, we’ll be there—and it will start with fucking Chuy and the whole border-crossing process, which is far from being straightforward there.