About the Photo Above: My first light house!
OK, I’ve traveled a lot… I admit it. Somehow in all my travels I’ve never climbed a lighthouse, so this was a first for me. Climbing up the narrow stairs and getting into the top platform proved to be a bit tricky for someone my height. Seems they built this for shorter people!
Where the heck is Uruguay?
Like many Americans, I’m geographically challenged and often find myself learning about geography as I go. I actually had no idea Uruguay was in South America prior to traveling here. Heck, I somehow I thought it was over near Africa (I thought the same of the Galapagos which I somehow placed near Indonesia). So, for those who are geographically challenged,Uruguay is indeed in South America and nested between Brazil and Argentina.
Most Expensive Country in South America
Again, I was surprised to discover Uruguay is the most expensive country in South America. For some reason, I thought this would be one of the dirt-cheap countries where I could spend some tie exploring while saving lots of money–not true! For example, a bus ride for seven hours cost $73 (compared with Peru where the same bus ride would be $30). I decided to visit four cities in Uruguay over the short period of one week (one or two nights each). That’s moving really quickly for me as I typically like to stay at least three or four nights in a city.
I took a catamaran boat called the Colonia Express from Buenos Aires in Argentina and crossed a large bay area over to the port at Colonia in Uruguay. The cost for this one hour boat ride was $40 (just the beginning of high costs in Uruguay). I spent one night in Colonia and climbed my first light house here. Fun! Of all the cities I visited in Uruguay, Colonia was my favorite and I would have enjoyed spending more time here.
Not really considered a “tourist city,” Montevideo is looked at more like a “stop-over” spot for most travelers rather than a tourist destination. I spent two nights here and the highlight was a big steak dinner with about seven or eight other travelers from my hostel. Yum!
Punta del Este, Uruguay
I arrived to find a small, beach-side city practically an abandoned ghost town. Where were all the people? Saturday afternoon 19 out of 20 stores on the main street were closed and only a few random people could be found on the streets. My hostel, boasting about 200 beds, had only two guests in the entire hostel! Was there something I wasn’t being told? Perhaps the plague had wiped out the community?Was there a sniper somewhere? Zombies? What the heck? I did enjoy one afternoon with a friend from the sister city Maldonaldo who drove me around the area to see a giant set of fingers rising up from the sands of the beach (apparently the other hand is over in Peru and some giant is buried below South America with very, very long arms). My friend told me that it was the “off season” and during January/February the place was packed and super crowded. I spent two nights here, but think I would have preferred skipping this small ghost town.
Punta del Diablo, Uruguay
Translated, “Point of the Devil,” one might guess that satanic rituals would occur on a nightly basis here. Those going to this beach town might be disappointed to find beach parties and BBQs are the norm and no Satan worshipers live here. When I was there, the weather was a bit on the cold, nippy side and not great for shorts, swim suits or swimming without an insulated wet suit. I did enjoy the view from the window of my hostel with a wood fire crackling at my feet. I spent two nights here.
Map of My Travels in South America
I just completed a map of my travels in South America (view map).
Costs in Uruguay
Uruguay is South America’s most expensive country and a bit like visiting California for most Americans. Everything costs more here.
Hostel: $17-18/night (shared dorm) including breakfast
Food: typically $10-$15 meal for lunch or dinner (I bought food at the market and cooked in the hostel rather than eating out).
Transportation: City-to-city buses cost about $8-10/hour (almost double the costs of countries on the west coast of South America).