Uruguay: Colonia 

I traveled to Colonia by a Buquebus ferry across the Rio de la Plata, which seemed to me to be the sea, although apparently it´s a river - well it must be the widest river on earth! I boarded the ferry with my backpack fully loaded, in a proud attempt to show that I was a traveller, and Eleanor sensibly loaded her rucksack onto the conveyor belt at check-in and boarded the ferry much more comfortably than me. Our channel crossing passed pleasently enough and lots of coffee and empanadas (mini pasties) kept us going on this epic three hour voyage.
The first thing we observed about the Uruguan people is that they seem to spend most of their time standing on street corners and passing the day drinking their Maté - a herbal tea that is drunk with a straw. You get the impression that if the Uruguans left their homes without their old fashioned flasks of hot water and cups of weed the whole nation would suffer from the hangover to end all hangovers.

Colonia has a population of around 20,000 and it is something like the 4th biggest city in Uruguay, if you can class it as a city! It felt like a mixture of St. Ives and Seville. In fact the old town, the first place we headed for, is a world heritage site. So pretty, historic and charming. Our three days in Colonia was pretty much spent in the old town - long lunches and museums. Although we did have a bit of drama during our stay. I managed to cut my finger with the first use of my penknife and had to pay a visit to casualty and pay US$14 for some medical attention. For this I had the benefit of a doctor, a nurse and a translator and I jumped the queue of patients in casualty. Next time I have to go to casualty in England I´m going to pretend to be Uruguan and see if it works the other way round as well. Eleanor´s bit of excitement was falling off a horse. We had expected a gentle horse and cart ride around Colonia on our second morining there but our language skills had let us down, and there was no cart to be seen, just and old man who spoke no English and three horses that were seeing out their days as tourist transport. Although today they had obviously decided that enough was enough. My horse (I wasn´t given its name) dragged its feet behind the other two horses and attempted to eat grass or leaves at any opportunity, whereas Eleanor´s horse marched ahead clearly wanting to get the exercise over and done with as quickly as possible, or in fact much quicker than expected! As half way through our tour of boring country back roads, two men who were having problems with their motorbike, managed to get it started and revved it for all it was worth and Eleanor´s horse saw this as his opportunity to lose her. He reared up and threw Eleanor onto the ground. Eleanor looked up from the ground to the bikers and frustratingly looked for some Spanish swear words, but I knew she was alright, as it wasn´t long before he was on her feet and swearing her head off with her favourite English swear words. Eleanor insisted on getting back on the old nag, but I seized this as our oppotunity to end our ordeal. So we paid the old man and walked along the beach in the midday sun back into town. Ironically our next stop for three days was an estancia - a Uruguan ranch.

Estancia El Ceibo is in the region of Florida, four hours north of Colonoia - Uruguan gaucho country. I managed half an hour on a horse and Eleanor proved that her horse riding accident was a one off and gauchoed with the best of them. Saddle sore, we headed south east and for the coast again, destination Punta del Este, via Piariapolis.
comments 0 # 06/01/10, 18:16

Mosquito 1.1.96 b290308