Montevideo | Home of the Mate | June 2, 2004
Yesterday was probably our cheapest day ever. Kevin and I were in the delta above Buenos Aires all day and it was pretty quiet and peaceful. There were no roads up there – just small creeks where boats would go up and down. All the shops, restaurants, etc.. just have docks out into the water and everyone just scoots around. This would be a good time for a pic but I don’t think that is going to be possible. We wised up and realised that we have been paying $5 a night for either a campsite or a hostel so we asked someone if we could camp on his grass. The guy didn’t mind at all so I think we may have stumbled upon the cheapest accomodation yet!Kevin and I spent most of the day on random boats and busses but when the sun finally went down we found ourselves in the Uruguayan capital (Montevideo). At first glance Uruguay is pretty much the same as Argentina. Their flag is even the same with the sun in the corner instead of the middle, see? As we are walking around more, we are seeing differences now. Everyone is walking around with this little pot and a filter straw thing. Finally we asked someone what the deal was and they said it was “mate” or something. We tried it and it was kind of like strong tea… could have easily been drugs though. Either way.. I need to find my own mate pot and straw. Anyway, we found a cheap hostel and there is this place close by that has tango dancing at 11:30. I’ll shoot for it but Kevin works on about the same time table as me… as soon as 10:00 hits, the brain stops working and its sleep time.
Treinta Y Tres | Lost Without Lonely Planet | June 7, 2004
I don’t even know where to start. It has been way too long since I have found an internet cafe that I can’t remember all we have done these last few days. We left Montevideo a few days ago after renting bikes and scouting out the city inbetween eating fresh pasta. Actually that’s about all we have been doing in the last 5 days. Doing things inbetween eating fresh pasta. We keep finding places and that’s all we order. Except yesterday we found a barbeque place called Jesus so we had to eat there. So after Montevideo we continued to work our way along the coast of Uruguay. The place is mostly dead right now cause it is winter. Supposedly the population bloats in the summer as Argentinians come over to enjoy the beaches. The beaches are really fantastic by the way. No swimming though… we just camp on them. Actually we have camped more nights than stayed in hostel. It is so much more cost effective. We usually just find a patch of trees in some park or the outskirts of town and set up camp (discreetly). And mom if you are reading this I will spell check it later.. just lay off ok.I think our best day yet was a couple days ago where we almost killed ourselves hiking. This one place called Piriapolis didn’t have much going on but it did have 3 sizable mountains. We started about noon and hiked up the first 2 no problem. The third took forever to get to because we had to go through death bushes to get to it. There were so many kinds of thorns and my legs and arms were got all bloody. That was after walking through an area that had caught on fire. So we were pretty black and red and we started up this last mountain. It had the biggest cross ever on it so we had to get up and take some pics. The stupid thing was that we started at dusk and had to run up this thing as fast as we could. We got up to the top and it was great but really dark. So the real advenuture started after dark, doing the crab-walk down these slopes. It was probably pretty funny and it took forever. After that we were quite tired and really hungry. Of course we still had to walk the 5k back to town. Lots of fresh pasta waiting for us though.
I feel pretty ashamed to write this next part but I’ll lay it out anyway ok. On that long walk back we realized that we had left our travel guide on the top of the mountain by the cross. By the way this cross was so big you could climb up a spiral staircase inside 10 floors or so and then sit on benches in the horizontal parts of the cross. Great view!! Anyway, we started to make excuses. Ahh we didn’t need that stupid lonely planet anyway. We were experienced travellers and we could find our own adventures. And it was way too late and we had to push on to the next city. So we took a bus back to a city we were tenting at. The next day we took a bus all the way back and wasted most of the day climbing all the way back up to get the stupid book. ahh!!! Then we were like.. my precious… sorry about those things we said about you last night…
Yesterday we were in a Brazil-Uruguay border town called Chuy. That’s where the Parrillada Jesus was. Man they had good barbeque chicken (and fresh pasta of course). The locals had blocked off the street and were having motor bike races so we watched that most of the day.
Oh by the way, I meant today was the best day ever. Kevin and I went confluence hunting!!! (www.confluence.org). We conquered 33S 54W and no one had ever been there. Unfortunately it was located in the prairies – we had to supplement the adventure by trying to ride sheep and wild ostrich type things. Yikes.. got to run and get some fresh pasta before our overnight bus!
Chuy-Concordia | Mate Mania | June 9, 2004
Kevin and I finally buckled under the pressure today… That is right we finally decked ourselves out with the complete mate equiptment (pronounced ma-tay). Actually we got everything (filter straw, cup, thermos) excluding the leather carrying sack. Seriously, even a week in this culture is enough. It is not just tea, it is not just a drink… it is a lifestyle! Check out http://members.tripod.com/~Cynolebia/ur3.html for some info and pictures about people drinking mate. Basically it is like strong tea and you just keep adding hot water… so you need to walk around with a thermos. Finally, no more stares.. we fit right into the South American culture. It is great! Other than that we haven’t been doing a lot. We travelled along the north side of Uruguay and we are now in a border town with Argentina.
Next it looks like we are going to go to Cordoba where a friend, Mariana, lives. Hopefully she’ll hook us up with some good adventures and maybe a place to stay. Alright, back to mate and fresh pasta!