On Friday morning our bus was scheduled to leave around 9:45am so we were meeting around 9:30am.I didn't get on the bus by my house with very much spare time and I decided to stay on the bus for one extra stop, just for fun, and I strolled into the terminal 9:42am. The driver loaded my bag and we were on the road as soon as I took my seat- close call! Once the bus got rolling I tried reading for awhile but soon enough I was sleeping and I sleep majority of the two hour ride, which made the trip go much faster. We arrived in the bus terminal and shortly after we were greeted by our friend Rodrigo who actually grew up in Minas and decided to take us under his wing as our guide for the weekend. We walked down the street a little ways to the "hostel" he thought would be good for us to stay in, but it turned out to be more of a Hotel with more commodities and a higher price than we were really looking to pay. Back the bus terminal we headed to the tourism/ visitor center to see if they could suggest something else. We got information, maps, and ideas of things to do for the weekend and headed to hostel #2 to see what they had to offer. It was a nice place and much cheaper, so we crammed all 5 of us in the 4 person room and managed to get another bed in there and made that our cozy little home for the weekend.
Oh and I should probably mention the five people I spent the weekend with: Rachel (North Carolina), Sam (Kansas), Eva (Austria), Zuzanna (Czech Republic), and our guide Rodrigo (Uruguay). It was an awesome mix of people and it forced us all to only speak in our 1 common language all weekend: Spanish!
It had a little bit of everything: when we first started off it was an open grassy hill, then we passed under a tree and into a clearing which was actually the beginning of an Ombu (the tree I am sitting in) forest. We walked along through the forested area for awhile, climbing higher and higher, until we finally emerged on a flat grassy/ rocky area on top of the cerro with an excellent view. On the other ridge of the cerro we were accompanied by cows, they were a fair distance away, but it was kind of crazy to see them up there as well. I should have known, the entire way up were were careful where we stepped!
On top of the cerro we walked around, took in the view, took in some SUN, and found a place to eat our lunches we packed. After looking around, soaking up the view, and basking in the silence we began our decent to walk through the countryside a little bit. We knew of a place that was about 1km (.6 miles) from the cerro that we wanted to check out, got there, and we were told we would have to pay to enter and with only about 45mins of sunlight left we decided that it wasn't worth it and headed back where we had come from. Then Rodrigo told us of a camping area that was about the same distance away and after hopping 3 fences, walking through a pasture past some grazing cows, and through some trees we came upon the camping area just as the sun was setting. The sky was a brilliant pink-orange color and we walked around and waited for our taxi to come get us. While waiting I managed to make friends with a very friendly country-dog, he was a little dirty but I just could resist those puppy dog eyes he gave me when he rolled over on his back and begged for his belly to be rubbed :)
That night we ate at the Ombu restaurant in Minas and I had my first Chivito complete with: steak, ham, cheese, tomato, lettuce, hard-boiled eggs, and mayo. It was a cultural experience in itself- I see them advertised everywhere and they are very common but this was my first. Conclusion= may not be very healthy but it was delicious! This was followed by us all going back to the room and sharing 2 Liters of Dulce de Leche ice cream and playing a new card game Rodrigo taught us.
|The outdoor church we came across|
When we finally decided to leave the rain was coming down steady and we were trying to prepare ourselves as much as we could for the 1 1/2 hour back to the bus stop. About 20 minutes into our walk and soaking wet we heard a car approaching from behind and Zuzanna had decided enough was a enough "hace el dedo" we were going to hitch-hike to our stop. Low and behold it worked and the 5 of us sat in the bed of a truck as we got a ride from a family gracious enough to pick us up. Once at the stop there was a small concrete wall with a roof that blocked some wind and most of the rain, but we were already soaked. Shortly after laughing about what had just happened we checked the time and realized we had almost 2 hours until the bus came and it was time to make a decision: freeze for the longest 2 hours or what would seem like the longest 2 hours ever OR try our luck again at hitching a ride back to Minas. Well you guessed it, we waited and watched 3.. 4 cars pass without looking twice. Then to our surprise another truck type vehicle stopped and again we climbed in the back for a long ride back to Minas. The rain was coming down accompanied by thunder and occasional lightening but we couldn't help but laugh at the situation. Here we were in the back of a truck in the pouring rain, freezing our butts off, and there was nothing we could do about it.
Once we got back to the hostel dripping wet and cold, we made clothes hangers out of anything that had a handle, corner, edge, etc in order to hang up all of our clothes. We opened the window, cranked the heat, left our door open, and turned on the fan in hopes of 1) drying our clothes 2) avoiding turning our room into a musty smelly sauna in the process. It was more or less a success. We spent the rest of the night lounging around the room under blankets, watching movies, and eating. It was a good way to finish off the day!
Today, Rachel and I spent the morning at a little sweets store while the others decided to walk around a little more. We had had enough walking for one weekend and we spent our time playing rummy and waiting for the next bus to arrive. All in all I would have to say that was a weekend well spent :)