Category Archives: beach

Snowboarding with sand

Sandboarding is hugely popular in Vina del Mar. The group I was with was keen to try. After my morning, I was keen to watch.

It’s just like you think – snowboarding except with sand. There are giant dunes and the only way to get to the top is by foot making the climb up in sand a little more difficult than it seems.

Here’s the climb up:

real sandboarders

Me climbing to the top sans sandboard:


Here’s a shot of the actual sandboarders at the top:

the climb to the top

And once you get to the top, and peek over, here’s the spectacular view – well worth the (exhausting) walk up:

the view at the top


Where’s the best place to relax? Hint: the beach

Once we picked up my new medicine, where’s the best place to relax?

Yes, the beach.

as it should be

all smiles, as it should be


vina beach

bus sponsorship

bus sponsorship on the beach


guardavida (lifeguard)

view from the sand

behind us – beachfront property

Seeing the Celebration of Yemaja

Once the sun went down on the day where I saw the sheep’s head, Romina, her friend and I headed to the Yemaja Festival on the Rio de la Plata — on a different beach from where we had been earlier in the day.

There, was a religious festival on the beach, in the river and on the streets. Yemaja is the Goddess of the Sea.

The beach was full of people celebrating this spiritual holiday. The beach and the surrounding streets were full of people like us, who were observing.

In the sand, people had scooped out holes to put candles. Families gathered around their ‘hole’ and you could see them enjoying the company of those around them.

these were the holes in the sand

the beach was covered with candles in holes

It made the beach look beautiful but if you weren’t watching where you walked, it could have been dangerous.

it looked pretty

People were dressed in all white as they walked from the beach into the river to make their offering to Yemaja. Long white cotton gowns and pants dominated the fashion scene of religious participants.

women walking into the water

On the beach there were bands playing and on the street just parallel to the beach there was music coming from nearly every car.

It was very interesting and I didn’t take many photos, or try to get good ones, because I felt like an intruder on a spiritual journey. If you Google “Yemaja and Montevideo” there are photos if you wanted to see more. The spellings vary as this is celebrated in a variety of countries with an African influence.

And no, I did not see any other animals on the beach.

Heads Up! You Won’t Believe It Until You See It!

I know I didn’t want to spend time in cities, but after being so far from civilization for a few days, I couldn’t have been happier being in Montevideo.
With Romina's mate
As for food, jamon y queso sandwiches are everywhere! That’s ham and cheese — and they cut the crust off when you order them in a restaurant.
The other popular food item — dulce de leche. It’s very sweet and I was introduced to this during a vacation in Argentina. But the locals love it!At this point I had stayed one night with Mariela in her high-rise apartment and one night with Romina in her rented house. I didn’t want to be the houseguest that never left but the girls convinced me to stay just one more night.
My third, and final full day, in Montevideo had Romina and I heading to the beach!
View to the left…
Montevideo in the background
View to the right…
 Beach view away from the city
Shot of the city and the beach
The beach was pretty dirty with smashed watermelons and a fair amont of trash scattered on the beach.
 Dirty beach
Romina explained that this was the start of a native holiday. The fiesta, celebrating Yemaja, was for native people to send off watermelons, and boats, as gifts to the Goddess of the Sea. It was an African tradition and there would be many people celebrating again, on beaches around the city, tonight. We should go, Romina said. It wasn’t something she celebrated but it would be good to show me. I agreed.
Romina's shot of me after she took the picture of the head. Still note trashed beach.
We continued to soak up the rays and I headed to the water to stick my feet in. I walked along the edge of the water realizing that I was in Uruguay. It was like I had to keep pinching myself, knowing I was there. Being around Romina and Mariela made me a lot less lonely and their hospitality was incredible. I was having so much fun with them but I knew I needed to leave the next day. I continued along the beach until I was stopped in my tracks.By a head.

Yes, you read that right. A head.

Without even taking a double look, I ran back to Romina skeeved and shaking in disbelief at what I just saw. I started speaking in Spanish and English telling her that I think it was a dog’s head. I even woof woof’d a few times to get my point across!
There was no blood but there was most definitely a head. She erupted in a fit of giggles. I was puzzled but still freaked out by what i just say so I was asking what, why?
When she caught her breath from her laughter, she said it’s probably from one of the gifts from the festival.
I said you have to go take a picture of it. I can’t go back and look but I wanted to see it again. Plus, no one at home would have believed me.
She took my camera and went to document the body- less head.
When she came back I asked more questions. And I kept saying perro (dog)? She replied with baaaa baaaa.
So sheep it was.
Another shot of the head

Being Green, Really

Here, recycling is a way of life.

Recycled plastic water jugs double as candle holders. candle

Locals fill the jugs with sand, stick a candle in and the jug acts as the barrier to the wind until the candle burns the plastic so much that you need a new jug.

Nine people shared a house for a night and created less than half of a bag of trash (until I showed up).

Before I left, I cleaned out my daypack with anything that I didn’t need. Not even an entire week on the road and I had acquired so much paper — tickets, guides and receipts. Couldn’t believe that I acquired so much and made a mental note to get rid of it before it accumulates.

I saw the juxtaposition in being in a place that was so accustomed to recycling yet had caused me to accumulate so much trash in just a few days.

Cabo Polonio hadn’t changed much in twenty years

One of my roommates in the attic told me that he had been coming to Daisy’s house for two weeks every summer for the past twenty years. Living in Buenos Aires, spending time in Cabo Polonio was his way to disconnect from city living.

He went on to tell me that Cabo Polonio hadn’t changed much in twenty years.

It was, and will probably always be, a hippie haven with gorgeous and unspoilt beaches and some of the friendliest and most laid back people I will probably ever meet.

If you are up for an adventure like no other, and want to head somewhere with amazing sunsets, beautiful beaches and interesting people — and you’re willing to go off the beaten path (literally), you’re okay with just a sentence or two in a guidebook and you can stand not having any electricity —  don’t hesitate to visit Cabo Polonio. But shhhh…don’t tell anyone else!

Cabo Polonio at sunset

I Finally Met Daisy

I got back to Daisy’s and met my other roommate, Miguel, who had a late night. He and my Buenos Aires roommate were in the yard when I returned and asked what I was up to. They took me to buy bus tickets and to my surprise, the bus tickets were right next to the supermarket but keep very sporadic hours – as in an hour here, an hour there. When we arrived, it was closed.

So we headed to the beach. Miguel was also from Argentina and on holiday. In a mix of English and Spanish the three of us chatted about travel, city life and jobs while enjoying the Uruguayan beach. Once we were together chatting on the beach, I started to feel a little better and the loneliness waned.

A few hours later we went back to buy bus tickets – and got my ticket part way to Minas. They could only sell me a ticket to a town called Rocha. Once in Rocha, I’d have to buy the onward ticket and get on a different bus (or so I thought).

Hoping for the best, we headed back to the house where I needed to pay for my stay and head out.

I finally got to meet Daisy. (No photo but here’s the outside of her house where I stayed).

Daisy's House

She was probably in her 70s. She didn’t speak a lick of English but we managed to chat for a few minutes. The tall German boy was in the hostel and was able to bring my bags down the stairs. I said goodbye to everyone and headed back to the supermarket where I’d get back on the truck out of Cabo Polonio.


Cabo Polonio Exploration

Continuing from my time in Cabo Polonio…and the windy night

After what seemed like a few minutes later, the sun was up. I was the first one up so I cut a piece off from some bread we had bought at the supermarket and headed out. I wanted to explore the village, buy a bus ticket to Minas and hit the beach!

Before leaving Colonia, I had emailed with my CouchSurfing hosts in Minas, that I probably wouldn’t arrive until after 7 that evening (enough time to have the whole day in Cabo Polonio but early enough that I would arrive during daylight and well before dinner).

I headed out and literally took a hike. I walked around the water’s edge and followed the path worn into the grass. I did see a lot of baseball sized poop. I figured it was the horses I saw the previous day.

baseball sized poop









And then, I saw them…sea lions or walruses (not sure which).



sea lion or walrus

Not behind barbed wire, not on display like at a zoo – just sea lions chilling on the rocks. There were a few of us that happened upon the sunbathing sea lions and we proceeded to ooh and ahh together and take photographs.

I’m not well-versed in sea lions – and if they like being photographed, or how fast they move, had they been pissed – but everyone seemed to be respectful of their space and they did not move more than a few inches while I was there.

I got in a few photos and then watched in awe. They love the sun as much as I do. They lounged around and hardly even moved for the time I was there.

As I walked on the beach in Cabo Polonio admiring the sea lions, I was joined by a few other people doing the same thing. One person in the group spoke English and asked if I was traveling alone. I said yes. She shared the info with the others, and then said that I was very brave. They all nodded in unison.

At this point I wasn’t feeling so brave.

While I was enjoying the rustic nature of Cabo Polonio and was really trying to immerse myself in the relaxed feel of the village, I couldn’t get this nagging feeling to go away.

I had spent a few hours alone watching other people enjoy their vacations with their friends and I was feeling kind of lonely.

I was missing the company of Laura in Colonia and Romina and Mariela in La Pedrera. I wasn’t really certain about what to expect in Minas since I had only exchanged a few emails with my hosts. My eye was really bothering me and I was envious of the other people I saw having fun with their friends. I wasn’t sure if I was homesick or if I just really wanted running water. Pity party for one, please.

I continued my walk around to the other side of the village where there were a few stalls/trailers selling jewelry and food. I stopped at a beach shack to buy an apple juice and asked where I could buy bus tickets. He shrugged. I wasn’t sure if my Spanish wasn’t great — donde esta comprar boletos de autobus — or if he didn’t want to deal with me. I continued my attempt at asking around town and either no one knew or I didn’t understand the reply.

Since it was nearing late morning, I decided to head back to Daisy’s.

I still wanted to spend some time on the pristine beach, and I had to hope that someone would have more information on the bus situation.

Back at Daisy’s

Back at Daisy’s we met the rest of the house. We sat around the candles, ate dinner in the grass and finished a few beers before the last candle went out.

Once our candle burned out, we said goodnight. My excitement for a good night’s sleep soon fizzled. There were no locks on the door of the house, and I certainly didn’t have a door to my room. (Remember I entered my room through a hole in the floor). Oh, and one of my roommates was missing. Hopefully they wouldn’t be too loud but we certainly didn’t have to worry about anyone coming back and waking me up by flipping on the lights – since there weren’t any.

Climbing up the ladder to my bed for the night, I mentioned to my new friends that I hope I don’t hurt myself climbing in the dark. One of my roommates told me “It’s best if you don’t. There’s no hospital in the village.”

Knowing how my eyes ached, I had a twinge of nervousness. Knowing I wouldn’t be seeing an eye doctor until I reached Montevideo in a few more days, I was hoping for the best until then.

Once I got into bed I realized the sound of the wind. Not sure if the roof was sturdy, but I didn’t have much to lose. My backpack, holding everything I owned, was on the floor next to my bed. My headlamp, my iPod, my glasses and case joined me and my sleep sack in the bed. If the roof blew off, I only had a few things to hold onto.

Cabo’s Supermarket

My new friends and I headed back to the supermarket to get provisions for dinner. It seemed like everyone had the same idea. The supermarket was jumping!

Stepping into the supermarket was like going back in time.

An old icebox held milk, eggs and yogurt.

fridge in the supermarket
The scale was rusty from years of use and it was so charming. The man behind the counter had a manual weight to check the price against what was on the scale.


In the corner, stacks of boxes housed batteries and flashlights.

The three of us chipped in for a variety of vegetables, breads and cheeses, and beer. Once the sun went down we had headlamps and beers. And candles like these found on tables at a bar on the walk back to Daisy’s.

Heading back to Daisy’s house, I really took it all in. My parents were probably freaking out because they wouldn’t hear from me for over 36 hours and here in Cabo Polonio I couldn’t even contact them if I wanted to.