In Buenos Aires, last Sunday, after strolling down Calle Defensa through the San Telmo weekly…
At 6:30 a.m., Montevideo was quiet, hot, and foggy. I walked to the bus terminal, which is, as always in Uruguay, inside a shopping mall—or maybe shopping malls are inside bus terminals, who knows.
The first thing you see when you step outside the bus terminal is a giant hand, five human fingers made of iron and cement and partially emerging from sand.
If Buenos Aires is an old, elegant lady who never steps out without wearing her fancier clothes and applying bright-red lipstick, Montevideo is the grungy little sister with messy hair, a slogan tee, jeans with holes and not a care in the world.
Montevideo has the world’s longest Carnival, starting in January through early March. So basically, performers—given the size of Uruguay, I’m willing to bet that almost every resident participated once to some extent
Going to Montevideo from Buenos Aires is fairly simple. There are two main companies—Buquebus and Colonia Express, both leaving from opposite ends of Puerto Madero.
“What made someone stop in Chuy and declare ’this is it, this is where I want to spend the rest of my life?’”
“That’s a new low when Chuy is plan A.”
It’s 3 a.m. right now.
We have no bus tickets, no plane tickets, and no hotel room.It’s 3 a.m. right now.
We have no bus tickets, no plane tickets, and no hotel room.
Maybe this is because it’s a country with fewer than 4 million citizen or maybe it’s because weed is legal, but I found Uruguayans very mellow.
Uruguay’s capital is the anti-North American suburb with cookie-cutter housing and suburban strip malls—no street, no building, no shop, no door, no pavement tile looks alike.
And here we are, in Uruguay. Check the map, it’s right there, bordering Argentina to its west and Brazil to its north and east.
The boat was at 9:40 a.m. and the terminal wasn’t too far from the hotel. In theory, we had plenty of time.
“I found a hotel in Chuí.”
“I’m very sorry to hear that. Why the fuck would we stay overnight in Chuí?”
There is one place where we had sworn we would never go back: Chuy-Chuí, the border between Uruguay and Brazil.
“So, we are talking dirt roads, cabañas and bonfires here.” “Yep.”
I should have gotten the clue. When the local gas station has a 1.5 liter of Coke and 1 liter bottle of Whisky on special, you can gather that the town doesn’t run on mate alone.
We walked to Tres Cruces to buy the tickets. Mission accomplished. Decision made, tickets purchased.
Montevideo looks seedy. But beneath the seeming chaos and urban grim is a lovely city with relaxed, welcoming people.
It’s only when we actually arrived in the capital city that I started to remember how food “worked” in Uruguay.
We knew it was going to be a long bus ride. Salto-Montevideo, 500 km. This is South America. You’re a bus passenger and roads aren’t always that great.
The biggest attraction around Salto is the hot springs, the nearest ones being the Termas de Daymán.
It took about thirty minutes to reach the Paso Fronterizo Internacional Concordia — Salto. I took a quick picture and we went in to have our passport stamped.