Title: Mate - the social thing to do Location: Montevideo, Uruguay
We have spent the last couple of days looking around Montevideo and then heading up to Punta Del Diablo on the north east coast.
What to say about Montevideo - well all the locals seem to be addicated to "Mate", I´m sure the biggest industry in Uruguay is in making Thermos containers as everyone walking down the street has a thermos and a cup full of Mate on the go, which they happily drink all day long. Seems to be a very sociable thing to do as young and old all congregate in the plaza, park, shop etc to have a chat over a cup of Mate. Seems really funny actually as it looks like everyone is walking around smoking pot from a bong!.
The city itself is divided up into the old part of town near the port (Ciudad Vieja) and all the rest. The old town seems pretty rundown which is a shame as there are so many beautiful old buildings. The council is starting to fix this though by making this area of town the local hotspot for all the students with all the nightclubs and bars now moving into the area and doing up and restoring the buildings, much to the annoyance of the people that actually live in the old part of town who aren't to keen on the noise.
The city itself is surrounded on three sides by water, so on our first day here Natalie and I thought we'd have a nice look around and walked back down to the port through the old city then all the way along the water front as well as most of the city. Lets just say we have been in England too long!, as we didn't even think of the need for sunscreen. I am now calling Natalie: Rudolf the red-nose Reindeer, and am also suffering ala lobsteresque!.
By the way anyone looking to start a business please start a bike hire shop in Montevideo as we where so nackered from all the walking as there was nowhere to hire bikes.
Also had the biggest steaks for dinner - cost about a pound in the local supermarket. God bless countries with lots of cows!.
You could also really see a big difference between Uruguayians and Argentinians with the Uruguayians being so much more laid back and friendly, not that we are saying Argentinians aren't friendly as we have had people stop in the street and ask if they can help. Uruguayians also obey the road rules as we were amazed whilst waiting at a crossing and all the cars stopped, not like Argentina at all. After the Faced paced nature of Buenos Aires we found Montevideo perfect. For some reason reminded me a lot of the way of life back on the Sunshine Coast.
We then decided we would head up the coast and spend a few days relaxing on the beach - for this you have several choices. Punta Del Este - which the Argentinians jokingly call a suburb of Buenos Aires. Which is South America´s French rivera. Heaps of bikin clad girls from Buenos Aires. Further up the coast La Polma renowned for its Surfshops but still quite touristy. Then right up the coast to Punta Del Diablo. Punta Del Este was out as it was to expensive and I would end up a dead man if mind eyes where caught wandering so we settled on Punata Del Diablo.
What a choice!! - this place was amazing. We arrived just on sunset into a town with a few dusty dirt roads and not many lights. Quite a lot of buildings were falling apart or falling into the ocean!. Finally managed to find our bed for the night - Amazing!!! what a view!!. On the right day the waves right out the front are amazing and quite a lot of surfers come down from Brazil for it. we also arrived in town in the off season so nothing was opened. We had to gate crash a party at a resturant to get fed - felt really bad about that..
Would really love to spend more time here as every bay past Punta Del Diablo is empty with not a soul on the beach at all, just miles and miles of beach. Surf was also very promising (bring a wetsuit!) with so many breaks on the rocky headlands and beachbreaks in between.
Was great just to chill out here, spent hours walkng along the beach for which our calves are now paying the price. Was also great to have a fireplace in our room as my bush tucker skills are in desperate need of training after living in the city for so long. Had practiced our Spanish often with people around. Spanish classes were very useful!