We changed travel plans considerably for the last leg of our trip based both on what was best for the family and the amount of time left before heading back to South Africa.
We flew straight to Buenos Aires, as we were looking to settle for a while and get integrated into a community, as we did in Sri Lanka. After spending four months in Europe, we arrived wanting a South American experience and Buenos Aires was really just like being back in Europe.
Uruguay has never been on our bucket list. It’s a country famous for Louise Swarez, great meat and a president that drives an old Beatle, doesn’t take a salary and lives on a farm. As with Sri Lanka, we didn’t know much about the country, but as we headed out of Argentina, we made it our first stop and found exactly what we were looking for.
We started off in Monte Video, a small capital city. We spent a few days sampling the local food and getting to know the culture. Ronelle’s Aunt Elize, a family friend mentioned a place called Punte Del Este, about an hour North of Monte Video and after some research, we hired a car and headed up the coast, stopping along the way to see some smaller towns.
Punte Del Este is called the “Miami” of South America. It’s famous for its relaxed lifestyle, beaches, great restaurants and in season, a busy nightlife. It’s the place where Paris Hilton and Mark Zuckerberg have been spotted holidaying.
At first glance, Punte is not particularly beautiful, having accommodation for sixty thousand people and a local population of five thousand people, meaning there are a lot of high rise buildings. We ended up hiring an amazing two bedroomed flat on the 12th floor with incredible views of the ocean.
Punte is unique, as the main part of town is on a very thin cape and residents can choose between beaches on either side of the coast. This means that you can stroll to a wind free beach at any time of the day.
Once in the apartment, we were able to settle into life, signing up at a local hotel for gym, kids club and access to all the hotels facilities. We were also able to stock up on groceries and cook regularly for the first time in almost a year.
Life was very simple in Punte, we woke up, walked to the beach, rode bikes, had long siestas, cooked dinner, watched the sun set and slept. I guess, when you’re away from home with no commitments there isn’t much more to do.
One of the reasons why we also wanted to settle was so that we could have a semi traditional Christmas with the kids and having a place where we could cook lunch and laze around was something that we all needed. We ended up having a real “South African” Christmas, cooking lamb, gammon and Ouma’s trifle.
Uruguay is a fantastic place, from the friendly people to the meat and the great beaches. It’s a really a conservative society and although the living standard is quite high, there is no excess like in many other countries that we’ve travelled to.
Our seven-week stay in Punte was just the tonic for the next and final part of our travels, an 8000 km road trip to the South of Argentina to visit the glaciers….