Punta del Diablo, and my first border crossing

Trip Start Oct 14, 2009
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Trip End Ongoing


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Where I stayed
Casa de las Bayos

Flag of Uruguay  ,
Saturday, November 14, 2009

I woke up on Friday morning a bit hung over from the previous night's Couchsurfing meetup, but I got ready in time for Bayard to drive me to the bus station for my 12pm bus to the Uruguayan border. The 8 hour bus ride went quite smoothly, save for an overturned truck on the road which caused a half hour delay, and I spent most of the time reading and staring out the window at the great plains surrounding us on all sides, terrain I might have expected to see in Kansas or Montana.

I requested that the bus driver stop for me at the Brazilian passport control, and five minutes later I came out with an exit stamp from Brazil. I arrived in Chui at about 20:30 hoping to catch a bus onwards to Punta del Diablo, a mere 40 km away, but to my chagrin there were no more buses leaving that night. I would have to spend the night in Chui. I had feared this might happen, but I couldn't find any information on the internet about when the last bus leaves Chui so I decided to take a gamble. Had I known better, I would have stayed in Porto Alegre all day friday, and caught a night bus to Chui, arriving in the early morning and catching another one straight to my next destination. Oh well... I got a cheap hotel room for R$25 which smelled intensely of mothballs, spent a couple of hours at the internet cafe down the street, and went to sleep.

Take the ugliest little city you can imagine, draw an imaginary line through it, make the population on one side of the line speak spanish, and on the other side portuguese; that's how God created Chui. I was quite amuzed about the half-half thing (I can be in Brazil on one side of the street, paying in Reals, and in Uruguay after crossing it, paying in Pesos), but I was not curious enough to stick around more than was absolutely necessary, so I caught an early morning bus to Punta del Diablo. Again the bus stopped at passport control, and I, being the only gringo on the bus, got off to get my entrance stamp for Uruguay. The border crossing was painless, as was my transition to spanish (although every now and again I still spit out an "obrigado" instead of "gracias" or a "onde" instead of "donde").

I was very tired when I arrived in Punta del Diablo, having not gotten much sleep the night before. I planned on finding a hostel and taking a short nap, but as soon as I saw this place I knew that wouldn't happen. As soon as I put my stuff down I was out the door and walking around the beach. Ahhh what a beautiful beach it is! I looked east, then west, chose the former and started walking. I didn't plan on being gone for more than half and hour, so I didn't bring any food or water, but that half hour walk turned into a four hour walk! The more I walked, the more I wanted to continue. The beach is endless, and I could have carried on all day, all the way back to Brazil, but at some point I turned around and headed back, mostly because I was getting thirsty and the sun was hot (I didn't bring any sunscreen either). This has to be one of the nicest beaches I have ever seen. The quiet town is nice too, with unpaved sand streets and plenty of friendly street dogs. The locals say that Cabo Polonia (a beach not far from here) is nicer, but I won't believe it until I see it with my own eyes. So I'm going there tomorrow!

My plan is to spend a few days at some local beaches, and then head to Montevideo, where I'll spend a few days with my Uncle Mike and Aunt Sharyn, who live in Buenos Aires. They moved there a few months ago and are there on a tourist visa, so they have to leave the country every few months. This time they're taking a hop, skip and a jump across the river to Uruguay.

By the way, I left New York on October 14th, so today marks one month of traveling. My how the time has flewn! It's hard for me to believe that two months ago I was writing Perl scripts and DB2 queries. Here are some statistics from the first month:

number of hours spent on buses: 47
number of hours spent on ferries/boats: 4
total number of hours spent on public transportation: 51
longest bus ride: 9 hours from Blumenau to Porto Alegre
number of pictures taken: 394
number of Couchsurfing hosts: 5
number of nights Couchsurfing: 25
number of nights spent on bus: 2
number of nights paid for accommodations: 3
total paid for accommodations: R$80
total paid for transportation: R$483
number of soccer matches attended: 1
number of times getting robbed: 0
number of times I shaved: 1
number of border crossings: 1
city where I spent the most time: Rio de Janeiro, 9 days
best bargains: a used copy of Catch-22 in Portuguese for R$10, a phone card which lasted me the whole month for R$6.50
postcards sent: 3
most common quote: "I'm going to call your mother and tell her you don't eat enough!"
weight lost: about 3 lbs.
new friendships: countless!

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Comments

uzi evron on

facinating statistics. sounds like an exciting place especilly due to the fact that you have been in Manuel Antonio which I thought was the nicest beach I ever visited.


sounds like you are having great time and most important meeting lots of exciting people.

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