Punta del Diablo
09.01.2010 - 10.01.2010 26 °C
So.....today we had to say goodbye to Buenos Aires and get prepared for our trip to Uruguay. The flight to Uruguay was an easy 45 minute hop. We landed in Punte Del Este and had no reservations for the night. We knew it could be tough to find a place based on the website searches. We checked at the airport information center and he called two places and they were each $260/night for a basic Days Inn. We said NO and decided to find our own place to stay. We knew this would be an interesting adventure when our car rental (Europcar) shows up with a sign with our name Durnier on the sheet of paper. (note to Kim...they do NOT have a location at the airport but have a representative with signs waiting for you and your car is in the parking lot. So if you want to upgrade, or change vehicles you are out of luck). So here we are, in the parking lot with manual credit card machine checking out our Chevrolet Corsa. It is an ok car (clutch is gone) and back to manual driving. It’s been 5 weeks since we have driven a car, so Darwin had to actually think today.
I had the map and off we went. We decided to drive out of Punte Del Este because we knew the prices were high and minimum occupancy and thought lets get to the next town – Rocha and find a place. However, it took us over 2 hours to get out Punte del Este due to traffic and our gawking at the wonderful beach scene of this area. So we stopped at a few pousados and the prices were $300/night with no occupancy.
We finally got out of Punte del Este around 8:30 and made our way to Rocha for 9:15. Through translation at the gas station, our attendant told us there would be rooms in Rocha, so we found our way to the centro plaza (after going the wrong way on one way streets and through some very isolated streets). We found a hotel in the plaza and he told us there is no room in the Inn or in the town.
So off to Castillos, the next city. Again no place to stay. We headed to the beach town of this area and dropped upon a town festival. The main street by the beach was closed and the locals were out partying. We stopped by a small convenience booth and he pointed down the main drag (which was closed to cars), so we parked and wandered the streets until we found the hotel. The office was closed for the ngiht, so we were out of luck. However, we enjoyed this small area and the vibe of the town, all out having a cocktail on a Saturday night.
So off to Punta del Diablo (a further 60 km) down the road where we had reservations for the next night. When we arrived we headed straight for the beach area. Well, this town was hopping. Kids flooded the main drag as we tried to drive through it. This area was full of small bars/restaurants packed with kids. We finally found a parking spot and decided to walk around a bit. We picked a small pizzeria and sat down for a drink and something to eat. Darwin drove for 6 hours (it was now 00:30 am) and he needed to unwind. The roads were great, but in a strange country you are always stressed.
We were trying to chat with our waiter (Paulo) and he pointed to a colleague in the back and called Gringo. Before we knew it, we were chatting with Joseph from Wisconsin. He’s the pizza maker and has been living in the town for 2 weeks. He broke up with his girlfriend from Montevideo and went on a roadtrip and ended up here. So we had a hoot with him and the owner Miguel and Paulo. We ate a great pizza, and two bottles of wine. The bill came to $40 USD. Their local wine is called Tannat and it is actually very good.
Before we knew it, it was 04:30 in the morning and we said....lets go sleep on the beach. We asked Joseph if we could borrow a couple of blankets and he provided us with two for the night. So off we went back to our car. As we walked back, we tried to find a nice sandy place to crash, but couldn’t find a spot. So we decided on our car. Darwin immediately crashed, while I stayed awake waiting for the sun to rise. At 06:00, I woke Dar up and we watched daylight arrive. It was not a good sunrise, as the fog was apparent, but we had fun watching the local fishermen leave for the morning. They have their boats docked on the beach attached to winches. They release these in the morning and skilfully back their boats into the water using planks and rollers, and then off they go.
We watched this for a bit and then moved the car to another location and napped. Our reservation at Punta del Diablo Tranquilo indicated 11:00. So we knew we had time for some more sleep. We parked the car and within minutes a huge thunderstorm appeared. For most people, this would keep you awake, but both of us slept like babies for 2 hours. The car was even shaking at times due to the winds, but the thunder and lightning and our car was GREAT.
We returned our blankets to Joseph and headed to our hostel. They told us the reservation was wrong and our room would not be ready until 14:00 but they allowed us to shower in our room. This was definitely a basic hostel, but we had the top suite, with a shared balcony, private bath/shower and a hammock. It had a lot of character and was recommended in a 2007 Budget Travel magazine article.
After refreshing, we decided to drive to Chuy (brazil border) and check out the town and try to wait out the rain until our room was ready. Nothing major to report about this town, other than there are tons of duty free stores available as Uruguay is much cheaper than Brazil. We headed back to our town and the rain had stopped. The sun was shining, so off we went to our hostel bar on the beach.
Punte del Diablo is HIGHLY recommended on travel blogs as the place to go to get out of the large Punte Del Este. This is so true. We have a hard time describing this place as neither of us have been to one quite like it. The beaches are great...full of sand dunes, good surf, a town that is sleepy until 23:00 and then parties until 06:00. We certainly can envision Murph loving this place and Darcy/Dave Lee starting a bar here.
The beach bar was fantastic. We listened to four guys TRYING to sing Bob Marley tunes but they were so bad, they were groovy (but we also thought of our own band the Dos D’s......Darwin(lead guitar) Darcy (clarinet), Dill (murph playing drums) and Devin (Kevin playing bass guitar). We laughed so hard at one time thinking of this, we had a few watching us.
Side note for all the men reading this......there are 5-1 women over men in this place. The girls just flock this town and they are ALL wearing thongs. So if anyone is interested in meeting women, this is definitely the spot for you.
We finally made our way back to the hostel at 18:00 and they forgot to clean our room. So we waited AGAIN until it was cleaned. We thought we would take a quick nap and then head out again for the night. But when 22:00 arrived, we decided to try and get some more sleep, since it was very quiet in the area. Boy were we STUPID.... Everyone was sleeping until then. The town got louder and louder and peaked at 05:30. Even though the hostel claims there is no noise after 01:00, it does not explain the fact that voices travel forever in this area, and that the party crowd knows to stay on the street and away from the property line, so hostel management can’t shut them up....Yep you got it... no sleep again. Darwin was fine, because he just decided to snore louder than everyone. But I didn’t manage a wink.
I woke him up at 9:30 and we decided to head to our next destination..... beaches before Punte del Este.
Even though we did not sleep for 2 nights, we still enjoyed this area and would highly recommend it to anyone. If you want to get off the beaten track, come here and just enjoy yourself. To us, this is definitely what some great beach towns along California would have been like in the ‘70’s. It’s something like Tofino meets Peggy’s Cove. Check out the photos. They don’t quite capture the culture but it will give you some idea.