Monday, October 19, 2009


Uruguay seems to have a surprising ability to deterr us from normal hitch-hiking. Drivers are kind, there are no noisy highways, and everyone seems to be in a good mood, but there is always some nasty ingredient.... This time it was rain. Thankfully our French friends driving the rented car were heading for Paysandú, so we had at least 70 dry kilometers guaranteed. In a town called Chamberlain we saw a big Mercedes truck carrying cattle making a braek by the roadside. So our friends stoped their car for obvious reasons. The driver agreed inmediatly to take us. Unbelievably, he was going very near Colonia.

Rain hadn't stopped, and again we had to hitch-hike in abnormal conditions. Luckily for us, this is Uruguay, and 1 minute was enough to stop a Toyota double cab taking us straightforward to Colonia. They dropped us off at the Technical University in San Carlos de Reales, where we could use wi-fi and have a hot coffee...

Image of Colonia, Heritage Site of the UNESCO. The city was founded by the Portuguese in 1680. Ou host this time was Gino (HC).

The yatch's Dock.

Fundada en 1680 por los portugueses frente a Buenos Aires, la ciudad conserva en cierto grado su arquitectura colonial.

Old cars abound in Uruguay, so they can afford to decorate their bohemian atmosphere with them. Almost each café in the old town has one parked outside.

Beach landscape at Real de San Carlos.

Cheap food stalls to eat.

Sunset at the yatch's harbour.

Paula making handstill....

Real de San Carlos Bull's Arena, erected in the fist decade of XX century.


Thoug road number 5 unfolds its red thick line across the Uruguayan map from South to North, we were surprised to find an almost untraveled road. We traveled in the rented Chevrolet Celta of a French couple, and decided to join them camping at San Gregorio de Polanco.

The Camping grounds are at the shores of Rio Negro river.

San Gregorio de Polanco is Uruguay's first Open Air Contemporary Arts Museum. Thus, expect to find a homage to Jan Vermeer next to car park.

Murals take in different topics, from ecological damage to the dispute over Gardel's birthplace.

Paula, Amandine and Cyrile, playing cards and tasting some Uruguayan red wine (too soft for my taste) during ths storm that hit the town that night...


Valle Edén is a small town, 26 kms away from Tacuarembó. The almost unknown forested valley claims to have been the birth place of Carlos Gardel, the famous tango singer. Legend has it that he was born in Touluse, France, but Uruguayans have their own reasons to believe he was local, of an ilegitimate affair. We waited 45 minutes in Tacuarembó, in a roadside decorated with beheaded hens, candels an other remains of an umbanda ritual.

Valle Edén had a beautifulenergy, no wonder it hosted a Rainbow Gathering a couple of yeras ago.

A man collects her granddaughter from school....

Horses, hens, cows, pigs and others abound. Actually, we must cross several wire fences to get to our hosts house.

Locals prepare mate with apple and lemon skins and other unusual ingredients.

Our new tent: a Rock Empire "Alaska", made in the Czech Republic, was used for the first time in Valle Edén. Hey, and that's Milagros, a beautiful tender calf that was receiving her milk from a bottle...

We visited Valle Eden's school. Belive it or not each kid at Uruguay's public schools has received a free laptop from the goverment. Wi-fi connection is available in every schol, even in those towns that don't dome up in any map... Something to bear in mind if you travel with your laptop.

The mural at Valle Edèn School supports the local theory about Gardel's birthplace.

Clever and Fernando were local farmers with knew where to stand in political and enviromental issues. They were good representatives of those who consciously decide to make a step towards a life closer to the land, while haveing the education and the tools needed to be succesful city dwellers....


This is Carmen, our host in Tacuarembó, Northern Uruguay. Her house was a cozy collage of handicrafts, books, seeds and plants. The place abounds with pots with mint, tomatoes, quinoa or lavender. Considering the current trend to produce food intensively aided with genetic technology, those planting watermelons in their garden may soon become the ultimate revolutionaries.


Baldomir, the policeman that hosted us in Merinos, gave us a ride for some 20 km to a town called Morató, where cows seemed to have gained full citizenship and roamed freely... The unpaved desolate road overlapped with the historical track followed by the Charruas, the original inhabitants of the land, to their final stand. They were ambushed by General Rivera in 1831....

One hour later we hitched a lift in a VW Trcuk on to Taitcurá, another slow paced town...

We decided to walk to a junction (even unpaved roads form junctions). On the way, we found a weird wooden box, tighten with barbed wire and wrapped in thick metallic tin. We first thought of some kind of ritual burial. When we finally decided to open te box, it only revealed a rotten honeycomb...

In Morató we waited for 3 hours. A Toyota double cab driven by a ranch administrator took us to the main road, Road 5. There we hoped to hitch-hike in normal conditions (paved road!) for the first time since our arrival to Uruguay. But then it was too late and the sun was sinking behind the horizon. Placed under a lighting pole, we needed 55 minutes to halt a VW Worker (truck) that took us to Tacuarembó. Couchsurfing member were already waiting for us there.

Friday, October 16, 2009


The following morning Baldomir suggested I should go with him to the town's general store. Secretly, he wanted me to witness how he challenged the local folks in the billiard... I remained more curious of how locals enjoyed drinking at the bar, threading conversations that not always made sense for those who hadn't drink....

Merinos' general store.


Paula and I at Merinos' old -and derelict- railway station.

As usual, I prefer unspecific hitch-hiking signs. In this case "Conociendo Uruguay", which stands for "Getting to know Uruguay".

A group of drunken shearers were the first we made contact with. They suggested we could camp by the town's club, but imagining people around there would be even more drunk at night, we kept searching for options....

Stores still bear advertisng signs from at least three decades ago.

Old high roof houses abound in small towns. Their style is quite similar to the ones in Argentina.

When we asked Baldomir, the town's only policeman, where we could camp. we couldn't know he was going to offer us his house....

... and he went further and pointed there was some meet in the refrigerator we could cook. Some meet ment almost an entire sheep!

Since he had to live on duty to a nearby town, we were left alone at the place. The fire was on, so we use it to grill the sheep meet. Unbelievably there was also wi-fi connection.