Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Uruguay - an Interlude

So the bike´s fixed then. I spent an hour or so gluing the back left indicator back together for the second or third time and got all sorts of arrangements from the hostel to find a Yamaha dealer and pay though the nose for a new stand, got fleeced for the price of a gate (only fair I suppose), and luckily enough pulled over to check the map to find the dealer right outside a motor workshop, so got the stand straightend for R$10, thus improving the day no end. From there we continued out of Florianopolis and went south some more, stopping to camp over night in a town called Torres, followed by a lake side town called Sao Laurenço I think, and then made it to the border. Nothing much to note inbetween apart form yet another tumble, this time in a petrol station forecourt, as I pulled in a little too quickly, hit the large pothole, bounced into the carefully positioned sandy bit, over the deliberately uneven cobblestones and over the unsecured kerbstones onto the freshly turned soil and turf. Bit of a heap, and the poor indicator needed another patch job, but otherwispretty much unscathed. I seem to be getting the hang of the landings. AS they say, any landing you can walk away from is a good one....
So on to the border it was, after that. Slightly odd system here, as we got the bikes cleared at the customs office at Chuí, then got directed 20km back the way we had come to the passport control in the pevious town. Passports get stamped, then back the 20km to where we started and straight through no problems.
Uruguay customs was a breeze, and so we made it to Punta del Diablo with virtually no money at all. When we left Brasil, it was 5pm, but as we stepped over the border, it became (as if by magic) 6pm and all the banks closed. Luckily the shrewd and canny money changers crawl out form under their rocks at this time, so we swapped some US$ for Uruguay Pesos and had just enough for accommodation and beer.
Punta del Diablo is one of many seasonal towns we've come across in Uruguay. We are assured by the locals that in the summer they are teeming with people, but at the end of the winter, they are like ghost towns - and none more so than P del D. Crazy houses, run down shacks, windswept coast, totally cool, it just seems to be waiting. And the locals were waiting too, and were very laid back and welcoming. Its quite a 'hippy' place to go apparently, just far enough away from the main cities to discourage most of the rat race, leaving it for the surfer dudes and the kind of people you normally find in Nelson or Glastonbury. Which, incidentally isn't necessarily a bad thing!
We'd almost have liked to stay and chill, but with no money we had to move on and find a bank, so we followed the coast road, stopping at La Paloma, another ghost town but with a camp site designed to fit seemingly thousands. Thank God we got there off season - nice though it was, it would have been a nightmare in the high summer.
And so finally to Colonia de Sacremento (a World Heritage Site), arriving on the Saturday of a long weekend, but still we found room in a a lovely little hostel, where we became trapped for 3 days due to solidly booked out ferries to Buenos Aires. It seems the Argies like to hope over the ditch to Uruguay for their holidays, so we weren't able to book places until 8pm Tuesday. Frustrating though this was (we are very keen to get to Peninsula Valdes as soon as possible, as the Orcas are lining up to start tucking into the seal pups as they start learning how to swim any time now) it gave us a chance to do the second oil change of the trip and replace the now useless fuel filters. It seems the poor quality of the Brasilian petrol turns solid plastic into squidgy plastic in just under 4 weeks. Not ideal, so re-fits all round and away we go. I also managed to put my foot in it with an American tourist by trying to guess if she was from the US or Canada. I said probably the US but hopefully Canada cos they're much nicer. Lost points there, but then her Canadian mate turned up a day later and proved my point. She was much nicer....
And so to now, Tuesday, with time to kill before our 8pm boat, I find myself catching you up to date while I wait for the painfully slow up load of photos to Flicker. An hour of typing and still only 16%; so I may have to can it for now and finish later. Apologies in advance for the low number of photos for Brasil and Uruguay compared to Argy - maybe the novelty is wearing off for us. Also, although the beaches were all amazing, they all look the same in a photo, so it seemed pointless taking pictures of them all. And of course we were only in Uruguay for less than a week, so....tough, really.
Well, that'll do me for now which means that'll do you for now too, so run along and stay out of mischief.

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