Monthly Archives: November 2012

Hopping Around Town, On the Only Street in Town

When Romina introduced Mariela and I to people around the bar, everyone I met was so friendly and eager to talk to me.

I found that many people wanted to practice their English with me, which was so great. Especially because up until now, I found that many people were hesitant to speak English with a native speaker. I guess alcohol loosens everyone up with their language skills, including me!

It was great fun listening to places in the States people wanted to visit, or ask about, or tell me where they had family living. New York is a popular place!

The other thing people kept asking me was, with a bit of disbelief, ‘Why are you here?’

Was it because they don’t think Americans travel? Was it because Americans don’t ge around to these parts?

The chef from the hostel met us out later and introduced us around to his friends.

After bar hopping on the main (only) street, I firmly believe after all of those introductions, I was the only person not from the continent out that night.

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Heading to Town

I may have failed to mention it was cold out. We were close to the ocean and even in jeans and a fleece, I was chilly.

Romina and Mariela went back to the room to freshen up. I had limited attire, and I was freezing, so I stayed as is.

Now it was nearly 1am, and I was comfortable in my jeans, tank and fleece. And ladies, I even had my Keens on.

I was cold and I didn’t know what to expect and for some reason, I didn’t even think to at least put flip flops on.

We headed out. The three of us were in jeans and tanks. The difference, and why I felt so dorky, was that they had cardigans and nice sandals. I was in a fleece and hiking shoes.

We were in a small, casual beach town that screamed of flip flops, jeans and tanks.

What I quickly learned was that some girls didn’t care what the temperature was! All the bars we went to were outside or open-air and some of these girls were barely dressed!

We ordered pitchers of beer, and since the music was so loud, dancing is a universal language! Yes, even in my Keens.


From Mom

From Mom

Hi,

Just writing to let you know we are thinking of you.  Hope all is well.  Hope to speak or hear from you soon!!!  Take pictures and love you, love you, love you.

Be safe, stay well and enjoy.

Love you,

Mom

To Mom (Sent with spotty internet – I had no idea how long it would be up for. This is exactly how I wrote it – no caps, no chit chat, no nothing!)

google la pedrera that’s where i am tonight

google punta del este thats where i was last night

google cabo polonia thats where im going in a few days. no electricity at night there.miss you too. everything okay? no wifi so no skype til a few days.
talk soon. ciao.
From Mom

OK, so we see you are touring the beaches.  However, this Cabo Polonia has a population of 72, no access by roads…

You have to hike the dunes or take a 4×4. Water is gotten from a well and no electric. WHY are you going there????

PLEASE be CAREFUL!!!!!  Where are you staying when you get there?????  Only 72 people live there.

What happened to Montevideo????

Are you in hostels in Punte del Este and in La Pedrera?

Send pictures and your flight home please.

Mom

***

I have been away less than a week and she already wants my return flight information?!

So many questions and I didn’t know how long my internet connection would last. I left her wondering since I didn’t check email in time to get this one before I headed to Cabo Polonia and no electricity!


Bonding Over Vino in Paula’s Backyard

Romina, Mariela and I split a bottle of red in the backyard and got to know one another. We talked about culture, countries, language and of course, traveling!

Romina spoke English and Spanish, Mariela’s English was probably better than my Spanish, but she hesitated to speak English. So Romina did a lot of translating!

Romina translated where necessary, but the two girls were away for the weekend and I didn’t want to interrupt with questions and make Romina do so much work. So I listened and tried to figure it out.

Thankfully, my Spanish got better (or so I thought) with each sip of wine.

Romina and Mariela treated me like an old friend and I had known them all of two hours. We hung out in the backyard with the other guests for a few hours as we waited for dinner but the three of us stuck closely together.

Dinner was served around 11. We had an amazing homecooked meal, with another bottle of wine. I felt like I was out with my own friends at home! We finished dinner and continued to chat in the dining room. When I saw that it was nearly 12.30 I mistakenly thought we’d head to bed soon.

But the night was just beginning.


Making Our Way to Paula’s House

The map was pretty accurate. Where it was green was grass and the tic tac toe board of brown were the dirt roads. Bikes, cars and foot traffic determined where the ‘road’ would be. You could tell that grass used to cover the now exposed dirt.

As we pulled down the final stretch of dirt road to Paula’s house, I realized this was not at all what I was expecting, AND it was perfect.

This was not a hostel as I thought I knew it. On Paula’s property were a few cabins. Romina took Mariela and I to the one she had already secured. The room had three bunk beds and we’d quickly learn we had the room to ourselves.

The room would have been tight with six people, but for the three of us, it was perfect.

We dropped our bags and Romina gave us the grand tour – the bathroom, which was in a ‘cabin’ a few doors down, the kitchen, where we would put in our dinner order for the night and the backyard.

Paula’s backyard was huge! There were tables surrounded by hay bales to sit on and looked so relaxing.

We went into the kitchen and met Esteban, the chef at the hostel. We placed our dinner orders and then headed to the market to get wine and snacks.

The directions to the supermarket/liquor store/pharmacy (all one shop) were something along the lines of turn right at the big tree, left at the blue car and find the white house on the end.

It was about a ten minute walk but we found it. We picked up necessities (wine and snacks – see we really all hav the same needs!) and headed back to Paula’s.


Finding My Way

I got off at the bus ‘station’ late afternoon on a Saturday in La Pedrera, Uruguay.

I wouldn’t so much call it a station as a shack touting information on the side of a dirt road. But this, this dirt road with an information booth acting as the bus stop, was the exact opposite of Punta del Este and more along the lines of what I was looking for! Here’s a photo of the map I was given at the info booth.

Before leaving Punta del Este, I had made a reservation with Paula, the owner of a hostel in La Pedrera.

She had given me her number and told me to have the info booth call. She’d come by and pick me up in her van. She made a point to tell me it was purple and green.

I gleaned that it wouldn’t be too hard to find the Scooby Doo van.

I went to the info booth to see about making a call.  When I explained in Spanish to the girl behind the desk what I needed, she handed me a map.

When I realized this was going to be a challenge, a girl, about my age, spoke to me, in perfect English. She asked if I was going to sleep at Paula’s house. She was too.

She explained that she had arrived in La Pedrera the night before. She was waiting for her friend who was arriving from Montevideo. If I didn’t mind waiting for her friend’s bus to come in, we could take a taxi to Paula’s together. I agreed.

We introduced ourselves. Her name was Romina. She lived in Montevideo and was in La Pedrera for the weekend, after spending some time in Brazil for holiday. On her own.

I found the South American me!

I learned that she was an English teacher, so even though she understood my Spanish, she could always chat in English. We chatted a bit more and her friend, Mariela, arrived soon after.

The three of us loaded into a taxi, a guy with a car really, and were off to check in at Paula’s.

Chatting in the taxi about the night ahead, my newfound friends included me in their plans instantly, and without hesitation.


Getting Off the Bus in La Pedrera

This is the bus stop. This was the view from where the bus dropped me off.

Can you see the ox and the cart in front of the building?

Behind me is a little house/hut for tourist information. It was a small room with a woman behind the desk.