Well- 20+ days since my last posting and that is largely due to the big things happening down here in the small country of Uruguay. I have finished my classes, I have two exams left, and less than 4 weeks to cram in as much traveling and adventure as possible. I think I am up for that. Since my last post I have been doing a lot of small travels and catching up on what remained of my days in school. It's hard to believe that it is all coming to an end.
Since my last camping trip I have spent more time in Montevideo, gotten to know a couple beaches, climbed a Uruguayan mountain (aka hill), gone to Argentina and did some beaching there. All in all the last month has been wonderful and moving along very quickly. Almost too quickly for me to stop, smell the flowers, and really appreciate all of the wonderful things happening around me.
I got to meet part of Ali's family this past weekend as we traveled to Buenos Aires together for a few days. It was great to return and see more of the city. Her mom was so good to me and her brother was a lot of fun and even stayed out until sunrise one night with us, I was entirely too lucky to have spent a few days getting to know them. After they left for the U.S. Ali and I continued exploring one more night, got caught in a rain storm while out and ran back the entire way soaked and laughing until our stomachs hurt. Warning: laughing and running do not make a good combination. Then the next day we took off on a little adventure of our own which I have to say a little about- it was quite the vacation (or honeymoon as Ali liked to call it).
We traveled about 5 1/2 hours south to the coast of Argentina to Pinamar, a small beach town. When we arrived. It was a small, very tranquil town- at least at this point in time, supposedly it gets pretty busy during the summer- with a wonderful beach! We stayed at a "hostel" that was more of a B&B in some random guys house a 45 min walk from the grocery stores, on some random sand road. But it was nice enough and really our only option; I guess that's just kind of how it goes. One day Ali and I were swimming in the ocean, taking advantage of the massive waves, and not even 2 minutes after we left the water a giant sea-lion washed up on shore EXACTLY where we had been swimming. Neither one of us could believe it. I have never been so close to such an impressive animal before in my life, it was amazing. Don't worry he didn't wash up to far and after a minute or so he easily pushed himself back into the tide- I just couldn't believe it. We were probably swimming within a few feet of it!
Other than that we spent a very relaxing couple days- I am so happy to have such a wonderful travel buddy!! Ali and I have basically been on every little adventure together (looking forward to our last one coming up this week) and I wouldn't have it any other way. With only a few minor hitches, a sold out bus, a sketchy neighborhood, and an almost overly friendly taxi ride Ali and I made it back to our terminal in BA to head back to Montevideo.
The following day- after an early morning exam- it was time to celebrate Thanksgiving, Uruguay style. The meal was complete with: 2 chickens (turkey doesn't exist), garlic mashed potatoes, twice baked sweet potatoes, glazed carrots, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and apple pie. After about 5 1/2 hours of cooking Ali and I sat down to enjoy our feast with my entire host family. Each person went around and said what they were thankful for, in the end it was a wonderful dinner. I was really excited to be able to share this part of my culture and family tradition with my new family I have created here. Everyone left the table entirely too full and sleepy- typical after meal food coma. Although I missed my family a lot that day, I was glad I was in such wonderful company. It made it much easier to be so far away from home being able to share something so special with everyone here.
Ali and I took off for the beaches on November 29th after I finished my exams and around 8pm that night we arrived in a tiny, basically deserted beach town called La Paloma. (For those who don't know all of the words in a different color underlined like this one are link you can click on!) Tiny and deserted and a lot of what we would see in our journey and it was absolutely perfect. Unfortunately- or maybe not- our first two nights brought rain and high winds which led us to stay in a hostel instead of camp like we had intended. There were met a woman from Argentina with whom we ended up spending a good amount of time. We cooked dinner together and ended up inviting a guy from South Africa to join us. After dinner we spent about 2 hours at the table chatting about the world, life, whatever topic presented itself.
I have really come to love hostels and the community they bring. Even though in many cases you may never encounter the same person twice, what a feeling it is to enjoy a cooked meal with two strangers swapping points of view and talking about the world. I absolutely love it.
|La Pedrera: Little Mermaid Style!|
Luckily the weather cleared up and we had sunny skies to accompany us on our next journey. We took off walking down the road towards La Pedrera- a place we were told to at least stop. And stop we did, for an amazing view of the ocean with the most beautiful waves I have ever seen. Oh and and excellent ice cream shop! Other than that there wasn't a whole lot to be seen.
|Aurore, Me, Ali, Laura|
The next day we decided to stay at one of the local hostels so we didn't have tote all of our things around. We explored this little village and I saw one of the most amazing sights. SEA LIONS EVERYWHERE! I had heard about La Isla de los Lobos (The island of the sea lions) but I never could have imagined it. Not only was there an entire island off the coast, but standing on the beach you could see them swimming all along the shore. They were also all over the rocks, sun bathing, playing, yelling? Not sure if that's the right word- it was just so cool!
I was awake for the sunrise and the sunset that day- it's hard to fathom all of the feelings and thoughts that I tried to process in the serenity that accompanied the time spent at the beach. I doubled over laughing, rolled down a sand dune, cried for the people and loved ones lost (missing my puppy dog, rest in peace Fierry- wonderful part of the family), cried of pure joy for all of the blessings in my life, and relished in the beauty of nature. I sound like an emotional wreck huh? Well I don't feel like one and I often appreciate the time to sit and just let it all come to me like that. For me its part of the journey, an extremely important part.
When our time in Cabo was done and after we had said good-bye to Laura (who's has already gone back to Nicaragua) we headed to our final stop: Punta del Diablo.
Punta del Diablo had the most people of any of our places we stopped, but I would be crazy to say that it was anywhere near busy. Like the other towns, most places were still closed and the only people around were the few that actually live there. We arrived without any plans, considering camping again, but then an owner from one of the hostels driving around the company golf cart/ truck offered us a ride to the new hostel they had just opened up. We almost immediately decided to stay in the little bungalow looking rooms, out door bar, an abundance of hammocks, and a ping-pong table for $u 300 pesos a night (or about $15 US dollars). After dropping our stuff we hopped on a bus for a short ride to the national park just a little further up the coast: Santa Teresa Fortaleza. We walked through the park, which is surprisingly long, to get to the old military fort on the one edge. The walk through the park was beautiful0 full of trees, wildlife aka cows, and even a little playground we took full advantage of.
When we finally arrived at the fort it was situated high on a hill. We entered and walked around this 360 degree view of the land surrounding us- to one side we could see the coastline/ ocean in the distance at the back end of a forest, there were rolling hills, pastures, a giant lake: it was beautiful.
The next day was lazy beach bum day. We packed up and headed to the beach with all of our things to spend the day there until the bus came a little after 7pm that night. I can sum up this day pretty quickly: sun, waves, wind, sand, Frisbee, reading. That is really all there was too it. Oh. and we finished it off with giant ice cream cones of course!
Now I have time to catch up on things here in Montevideo- laundry, this blog, talking to family, etc and try to fill up the days this week with random little adventures until Matt makes his journey to South America. Less than one week now and I absolutely can't wait for Sunday evening! I'll try to update you, but looking at the upcoming events- I will probably do my wrap up/ next and possibly final post once I have made it back to good ol' WI.