A disgruntled librarian packs it up and leaves fabulous New York City behind,
going on random global adventures,
while simultaneously promoting literacy
and spreading the love of the written word.

Friday, December 24, 2010

uruguay: quite possibly the most boring place on earth

november 2010 - visa renewal trip

the bolshevik and i seem to have a little problem picking the most boring parts of uruguay to visit when we have to do our visa renewal.  since we've already been to montevideo and colonia, the two "big" tourist attractions, we stubbornly choose to explore new parts of uruguay, believing that there might be some hidden gem to discover.  why do we do this?  i don't know.

so last time we needed to renew our visas i stood firm on the fact that we needed to go to punta del este or punte del diablo, both of which are supposed to be fun beach towns that are non-boring.    we even found a cheap flight to montevideo, then an equally cheap bus connection to punta del diablo.  we're set, right?  no. sadly we waited too long to buy the ticket and then they jacked up the price and we could no longer afford it.  damned it!

and that is how we wound up spending the weekend in colon (argentina) and paysandu (uruguay) ...

now before i begin my kvetching, let me tell you that colon wasn't so bad.  it was about a 4-5 hour bus ride from buenos aires (they have luxury buses here, which i will describe later), and the town was okay.  it had a couple of main streets with lots of little shops and restaurants and bars.  they also have quite an active art scene apparently, which includes intriguing street art such as this (more street artists need to pay tribute to slash!) ...

a parilla on the beaches of colon
anyway, once you leave the main strip, it's all little houses on dirt roads.  but the town is right on the water so it's got some charm.  there are some beaches to hang out at, and overall it has the feel of a sleepy little beachy town.  it's probably good for families who want to go away but can't afford to do anything too extravagant.

you may be asking yourself, "self, how the hell did miss dewey d and her bolshevik choose this town to visit?"  two words: hot springs ...  and border crossing.  okay, that's four words.

our not-so-trusty guidebook told us that there were hot springs in colon.  let me tell you, the bolshevik and i love us some hot springs.  when we were in costa rica (our first trip together!) we went to this gorgeous hot springs that had several lovely pools filled with spring water heated by a nearby volcano.  we were surrounded by beautiful lush plants, a delicious and healthy spa lunch was included with our admission, and there was a bar where we could order cocktails and then drink them while relaxing in the hot hot water.  awesome.

the hot springs in colon were similar to going to your local public pool.  you pay a very small amount to get in, there's a bunch of cement pools painted bright blue, filled with what we were told is extremely healthy mineral-rich water that was the same temperature as a warm bath tub (hot springs should be hot, damnit!)  and there was a snack bar with fries and soda and simpson's themed ice cream pops.

ok, so maybe these were not the dreamy costa rica hot springs we were expecting, but the bolshevik and i can roll with the punches.  we had a fine time at the hot spring, even though we were among the minority of hot-spring goers who were under the age of 75.

the next day we took a bus to paysandu, which is a short 12km ride across a bridge into uruguay.  paysandu also has hot springs, so we figured we would try out their hot springs and if the town seemed at all interesting we would stay overnight.

well .... it took us 2.5 hours to get to paysandu.  say what?!  it took as about 10 minutes to reach the border crossing.  then the bus driver took all the passenger's passports to be stamped.  we wound up sitting on the bus for about TWO HOURS waiting for everyone's passport to be stamped.  urgh.

then finally when it's time to move, the bus leaves the border crossing about goes about 20 meters before stopping to let someone off randomly at the side of the road.  then the bus drives in a large circle and doubles back to the border crossing.  at this point i was really confused.  weren't we just here?  then three guys get off.  why didn't they get off the bus during the TWO HOURS we were waiting? i don't know.

so we finally get on our way and we are on a large entrance ramp to the highway and it's our bus and  motorcyclist on the road.  no one else.  just us.  and i swear to you, for no reason at all, our bus just swerves into the motorcyclist, knocking him off his motorcycle.  it was almost like the bus had hip-checked him.

exciting metropolis of paysandu
then of course the driver stops and gets out of the bus to yell at the motorcyclist as though it could possibly be his fault.  after about a half hour of confusion a local bus comes to pick us up.  now the problem here is that we have no idea where the local bus goes, but we get on it anyway because at this point we're kind of furious and annoyed ... and really hungry.

finally, we get to "downtown" paysandu where absolutely nothing is open.  saturday at 2 pm ... everything is closed.  maybe it was siesta or something, but we really didn't care.  we decided we had to get the hell out of uruguay.

after wandering around for 30 minutes wondering how to get to the bus station, we finally stumbled across an open "restaurant" that sold very basic fare: meat, fries, empanadas, and beer.  so we took a quick lunch break (mmmm, empanadas and beer) and then finally got some legitimate directions to the bus station.  but not before encountering the most fascinating sight of paysandu, uruguay ... nevada cigarettes.

yes, this american blend of cigarettes may double your risk of erectile disfunction, but don't worry, it's only if you're between 30 and 40 years old.  everyone else can smoke away!

we had to wait a couple of hours for the bus back, but we entertained ourselves with crossword puzzles and beer at the bus station.  then we went back through the border (which this time only took about 45 minutes), back to colon, and back to our hotel.  the following day we visited a different hot springs ... this one was fancier and had a little spa (which sadly was all booked up), and it had water slides!

although we did get a little heat for being the only child-less adults using the water slides, we slid down those things for quite some time anyway.  and honestly, this trip needed some water slides or else it may have been a dud.

conclusion 1: water slides make everything better.
conclusion 2: 90 days from now we will get our act together and go to punta del diablo


  1. ha! this story was hilarious. those cigarettes are the bomb!

  2. i know! it almost makes me want to smoke again, which i'm sure is not the intended effect of those warnings.