Unbeknownst to us, we stayed in one such dwelling, a very small timber shack of a hostel, with the most basic facilities and probably the most expensive dormitory we have ever stayed in. At US$33 a night each, we were a little overwhelmed. Despite the hefty cost, this is not a place where one can expect luxury; there is no hot water, limited running water, no air conditioning in the searing heat, mosquitos galore, little privacy, and minimal lighting in the dark of the night. The village though is lovely and very chilled out, with nothing to do but lie in a hammock, read a book, take a dip in the sea, watch spectacular sunsets and most special of all be entertained by the hundreds of sea lions, lying lazily on the rocks around the lighthouse. We enjoyed two and half tranquil days in this makeshift seaside paradise, but left wondering if in hindsight it was really worth the outrageous price tag.
Bus travel in Uruguay is a very simple affair, that is, if you are moving along the well ploughed bus routes which seem to all start in the Capital Montevideo and fan out to the north, east and west. People don’t seem to want to travel across the country, with no direct bus connections from the ocean in the east to the river border on the west, except if you go back the way you came through the capital. It took us five buses over three days to travel only 500km from one side of the country to the other.
Eventually we landed on the other side of the country in the large town of Salto, situated on the bank of the Uruguay River, which forms the border between Uruguay and Argentina. Salto is quite popular with tourists due to the number of Thermal Baths or Hot Springs which are scattered about on the outskirts of town. Don’t be fooled my friends, these are just enlarged swimming pools, filled with hot water and surrounded by some tropical plants to create that “natural” feel. We are quite tired of pools posing as thermal baths. After doing some research we decided not to waste our money, and instead went to visit some more Eladio Dieste architecture which we were introduced to in Montevideo by our Couchsurfing host Andres. Once again we were blown away by the audacity of this architect. His vaulted roof structure at the old bus terminal with its astounding cantilever performing a balancing act on just one line of columns was shouting, “Screw you gravity, look what I can do”!
Check out our photos of Beach and Country Uruguay here.
Next stop, the immense, the roaring, gushing, tumbling waterfall, Iguazu Falls…