Thursday, 18 October 2012

Cabo Polonio, Uruguays best

Leaving Punta del Este the next morning I rode onto Punta del Diablo.  It wasn’t raining so my bike became an improvised moving clothes dryer and with the sun out I started to finally dry out.  It was only 180km so I was in no rush and was looking forward to a trouble free sunny day.  The journey along Ruta 10 next to the coastline is picturesque.  There are some seriously nice properties scattered around, much more tasteful that Punta del Este.  You know they are ridiculously expensive when all the “for sale” signs are placed by Christies and Sotherbys International.   After sometime I had to turn inland as the powers that be have inappropriately placed the Laguna de Roca in the way and at this time of year there is no ferry.  Heading inland there was one farm after the other, the only change in the scenery was a blown up oil tanker, where I stopped to take my lunch.  

Strange suposedly clever "Stressed Ribbon" in Maldonaldo, on the way out of Punta.
Lunch stop at deceased oil tanker
Continuing on I was enjoying the fact that my clothes were dry and my feet were no longer shrivelled up in my cheap boots when I noticed my GPS had fallen off the handlebar.  Its not that I have had good results with it over the trip so I thought I’d be better off without the bugger.  Then I realised GPS is pretty useful negotiating cities, of which there are many big ones in Brazil, so weighing it up I decided to retrace my route back 60km to the oil tanker where I had stopped for lunch and hopefully find it on the way.

To say this was tedious is an understatement, stopping for pointless inanimate objects that might resemble a GPS unit is no fun way to spend an hour or two.  Making it all the way back to the oil tanker without finding it I realised my chances were slim, but as I was there I thought I may as well look around where I had lunch.  After searching I still couldn’t find it so was resigned to the fact that some farmer without a passport now pointlessly owned a shiny new GPS unit with all the maps between Alaska and Argentina.  I walked back to the bike, leaned over to get back on and felt a lump dig into my side.  Yep, the bloody thing was in my jacket pocket the whole time.  There were only cows to witness a lunatic laugh.  

This extra 120km dented into my travel time and as the sun started to get lower in the sky I was cold, which is just as bad as being wet.  In no time at all I was really cold and decided to cut the trip short and head for Cabo Polonio, which was 80km nearer.  I wasn’t planning on going there until after Punta del Diablo, but the order didn’t matter and I was happy to be cutting the journey.

Cabo Polonio is definitely a highlight of Uruguay.  It is a hamlet which began in 1735 after a Spanish Galleon called “Polonio” shipwrecked offshore.  Since then around a 100 rustic houses have been built using wood and other materials that appear as though they have been found washed up along the shore.  The people who live there originally were sailers and fishermen but over time tourism has become important and more than a few of the great unwashed also known as hippies and artists live there now.  

There are no roads and due to it being located in a national park you are not allowed to reach the place in your vehicle so have to take a 4x4 7kms through the sand dunes and along the beach.  I caught the last 4x4 of the day and was lucky enough to see the sun go down just as we reached the beach through the vast sand dunes.  I really had no idea what the place would be like and as it was dark upon entering the village I wouldn't know until the morning.  The only light emitting from the small houses scattered around in no particular order.  You could tell it is different to every other place in Uruguay.  At one point asking for directions to the only shop, I was given the response “Oh just walk towards the light up there”.  Its so laid back, you don’t need to care about walking though peoples gardens or finding a path – they just don’t exist.  The hostel I stayed in was very basic, any other place it would be a negative but in Cabo it is really fitting.  At night the locals popped in for a game of poker and I sat around eating my dinner chatting in Spanish all night.   

Nearly as uncomfortable as the seat on my bike
Down at the local shop
Poker night in poor light
Turning in tired and early I slept until early morning when a vindictive little bastard of a mosquito stopped me sleeping.  By 6:30 I gave up sleep and went for a walk as the sun rose.  What an amazing place, heaven on earth as long as you don’t trip over the odd dead sea lion on the beach.  There are of course lots of live ones too and quite often walking across the rocks I kept stumbing into them and had to back off.  I was the only person around and took so many pictures all morning.  It really is that special and I would love to come back again some day.  What a place, I hope it doesn’t change.

Morning Sunshine, after days of rain.
My Hostel, Viejo Lobo, quite easy to find too
Best deck chair ever

Sea Lions, thousands of em
a house with a view


Views from the lighthouse

Black dots = Sea Lions
Bolivian fruit drink you boil with water, the hostel had this for breakfast.

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