Maybe it’s the current weather. Maybe it has just been too long. Maybe it is just part of living on three different continents. There is so much to miss no matter where you are. At the moment I long for the place of my birth, Uruguay.
I miss the warm water, the cycles along the beach, the walks through historical Montevideo, shopping at the craft markets, the food, the lazy Sunday asados.
We have always tried to go every two years to visit my family. The first year we visited, after my parents moved back, we hired a rental car and drove around the countryside. It is not a very large country so it can be done in about a week and a half. It was the first time I had been to many of these small towns plotted along the interior and coastal areas. It was one of the most serene and beautiful trips I have ever taken. We left without a real plan. This was sometimes a problem with accommodation as some of these small towns were not equipped for tourism. But we found fantastic little spots all along the way.
We started our trip in Montevideo, driving to Historical Colonia. This is probably one of my favourite places in Uruguay. Cobblestone streets and beautiful historical buildings.
From there we drove along the Rio de la Plata. Following it upriver to our next stop Frey Bentos. This little town is a small window into the past of the country. It is very quite now but it’s past importance could still be seen and felt. Our next stop was Paysandu, were we desperately ran to the river to cool off from the sweltering heat only to find out the river was as warm, if not warmer than the atmosphere. (We did go in February which guaranteed heat, heat and more heat) All along the river families were gather to cool off in the river water and picnic under the shade of the trees.
After a relaxing dinner of good Uruguayan pizza and a good night’s sleep we drove on to Salto. We spent our days touring this beautiful old town, the second largest in the country. Again, much like other towns the old architecture in Salto is beautiful and speaks of days gone by. We walked through old hotels that seemed to have gotten stuck in time. We visited the thermal pools of Salto where we relaxed in steaming water ( did i mention this was February.) Needless to say we were among the only guests during this time of year. We walked through the old city streets and watched a football match at a local pub where we were at least thirty years younger than all the other patrons and I was the only woman.
Next stop, Tacuarembo. We have since named our small piece of desert Tacuarembo. This is gaucho country. Where the cattle outnumber people and the landscape is serene, green and dotted with clusters of trees to give shade to the animals. Tacuarembo itself is a quite old town with a large plaza at its centre. This is where we found an old cafe were we sat and had a coffee and looked out over the plaza and the movement of the locals. We did not encounter any tourist so far. It was just us and Uruguay.
My grandfather was still alive when we did this trip so we stopped off for a quick visit. (I will not go into this part of the trip as it is laden with memories of childhood which will require a whole other post) From here we drove through Melo and on to the Laguna Merin, we had once again reached the eastern coast of Uruguay.
The coast of Uruguay is diverse. At its most northern point it is the raw Atlantic crashing on rocky coast lines, sand dunes and soft rolling sand mounds. The further south we travel the more the coast softens as it mixes with the mouth of the river. The water becomes calmer, almost tame, and warm. All along the coast there are small towns that accommodate all tastes. There are small surfing towns, upmarket areas like Punta del Este. Quaint and more relaxed fishing villages and hot summer spots for both the young and old. You can find it all here in this stretch of beach from Montevideo to the border with Brazil.
During the hot summer months, it is as if the country is tipped and the whole population of the country escapes the inland heat up and down the cool coast of Uruguay. These small villages come alive during this time with a buzz that is nearly audible.
Keep in mind finding accommodation during this time is a challenge.
After stopping all along the coast we slowly snake our way back to the mother city, Montevideo. As the capital of this small country it holds a wealth of culture from its small bars and restaurants, its street vendors and weekend markets to it architecture and artistic performances.
So yeah, I love the architecture. I could spend hours inspecting the intricate details of these structures. The marble floors and entrances. The windows and balconies that look down on the busy sidewalks.
Walking through the streets of Montevideo is like being transported back in time. To a time where beauty lived in every detail. Where people took their time to produce more than a functional structure. Where art was an everyday part of life and so was presentation and beauty.
I am nostalgic for a country that I love and a time that has ceased to exist except in hidden corners of this earth. I hope to return soon.
a broad life©