Where the massive mouth of the Parana river kisses the freezing cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean is all that lies between the capital cities of Argentina and Uruguay. After a whirlwind few days in Buenos Aires we took a one-hour ferry from Tigre, to the north of the Argentinian capital, to the Uruguayan town of Carmelo, which lies around three and hours coach ride from Montevideo. Thus, our four day jaunt into Uruguay was underway.
Considering there are direct ferries across the bay to the Uruguayan capital, we took a round the houses route in the name of economic prudence. Other riders on our ferry may have taken the less travelled route from Argentina, a country suffering economic hardship, into Uruguay, a country that offers the highest standard of living in South America, for another reason. More than a few of our fellow travellers were taking full advantage of their duty-free allowance and some were even conscripting the allowance of others into their wily schemes. Nobody asked us to buy anything for them, but plenty volunteered their services to the illicit trade. Just as we pulled into Montevideo, under the cover of darkness, a couple of black-market entrepreneurs jumped off the bus hauling a score that needed at least a roll of bin bags to carry it safely, as they left the bus behind and disappeared into the night.
The main problem with the smuggler’s run for us though was that it meant we didn’t arrive at our place in the heart of the Montevideo old town until gone midnight. With only two nights planned for the home of one of my all-time idols, ex-president Mujica, this meant we had no real time to get a proper feel for the place. With only something between 24 and 36 hours to get into the place, in truth, we bounced off Montevideo.
Montevideo is clean city, with lovely fresh sea to fill your lungs. We strolled along the massive rambla that runs along the coast, meandered around the picturesque old town, and strolled up and down the huge American style main boulevard, complete with high rises flanking the busy lanes filled with traffic.
We found Uruguay to be much more expensive that Buenos Aires. So much so, that it caught us off guard. The good thing though, is that Montevideo has all sorts of food trucks dotted around the place, so it was easy enough finding something tasty to eat for our tea that fit our budget. Chivitos is the national dish in Uruguay, which is basically a fried minute steak loaded up with cheese, ham, salad, and Mayo all slapped into a massive bap. Gut busting and artery clogging but good enough to write about.
After we went to bed, on what turned out to be our only full day we had in the city, all that was left for us to do was wake up and make our way to the modern, clean, and very safe bus station to catch the coach to Colonia del Sacramento.