The Devil, the Glasshouse and the Knicker thief!

Trip Start Nov 08, 2004
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Trip End Nov 08, 2005


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Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Hello from Uruguay!

We were dropped off at midnight in the town of "Chuy" which we thought was in Uruguay, after some debate with the locals it turned out that one side of the street was in Brazil, the other in Uruguay.

Walking round the next day the dearth of "Duty Free" shops and lack of border told us we must infact be in no-mans-land. Worse, no-mans-land where none of the ATMīs took our card!After a tour of every single bank we eventually found a machine which gave us Brazilian Reales which we then had to change to Uruguayan Pesos. Chuy had the feel of a border town - the streets were full of hawkers trying to sell you knocked off Brazilin CDs and every other shop claimed to be duty free. It was dusty, dirty and hot. Horses and carts trotted along next to cars that looked like they belonged in a museum, yet the "duty free shops" sold products that would surely have cost a months salary here - La Prarie and Lancome cosmetics, Nike, Addidas etc.

We may not have been in Uruguay proper yet but the difference in the people was incredible - without exception the Uruguayans have been the most helpful, genuine and friendly people I have ever met. They will almost always strike up a conversation with us wherever we are and try their best to understand our faltering Spanish.

It was quite hard to see where Punta del Diabolo (Devil's point) got it's name from when we arrived. It's a tiny fishing village built on sand dunes next to a long stretch of wild, rugged beach. Against a backdrop of a blue sky it seemed to me to be a perfect little place. You can feel itīs remoteness instantly and it is such a breath of fresh air to see a place that tourism has barely reached yet. There are very few backpackers hanging around here, no hostels, no shops selling tacky souvenirs, no boat trips being pushed in your face and almost NO ONE on the beaches....

After some asking around we met Laura and Fernandez who own the only B&B here (with 6 rooms!)and had a house to let behind it, but itīs not just any ordinary house. Itīs 150m from the sea, built on stilts, is 2 storeys high and the front and sides are all windows: our glass house! When I saw the bedroom upstairs I knew we just had to stay here. The views are 180 degrees of ocean and beaches, I have never seen anything like it!

We spent the first 2 days sitting on our balcony admiring the views, walking along the endless sand dunes, rocks and beaches and swimming in the surf. The main beach is nice but when we walked along it and scrambled up some rocks we were totally shocked to see an absolutely gorgeous stretch of beach with calm water just over the ridge, again with not a soul on it. I feel that photos could never do this place justice - the beaches are not your classic `white sand, blue water` paradise, but it`s something to do with the sense of a `times past` here as well as its wild-west feel. The sound of the waves crashing in is always there, and I will never forget going to sleep and waking up to it each day, then drawing the curtains back to see ocean all around the room.

In the village locals mill around chatting. Horses are tied up everywhere and the 3 shops sell their simple wares. The one or two streets are made of sand and there is almost no distinction where the beach ends and the village begins.

When night falls the village becomes silent except for the wind and waves roaring. You stumble around in the sand with your torch and choose between one of the 2 restaurants, both completely olde-world style (cooking our own food at home was also still a huge novelty for us though!). We heard about a third restaurant by a beach which took alot of wandering down pitch black sandy pathways to find. It was lit with candles and was basically an old man`s house. He cooks a different dish each day and serves it at a few tables in his front room. It was so cosy and romantic - filled with shells, candles,fishing nets, postcards from past customers and trinkets.

Its strange to think there could be criminals in a place like this but it seems there are. Two nights ago, after a long game of poker with some other travellers and locals (Jason was playing I was chatting...) we wandered home at about 4.30am and could see a man walking around on the lower balcony in the torchlight. He didn't see us and was obviously startled when Jason piped up " What on earth are you doing here?" ( or similar in Spanish!). He spun us some story about being lost and looking for a road.. blatantly impossible in a village of about 2 roads and a beach (even I couldnīt get lost here). We were sure he wouldn`t have been able to get in anyway so felt lucky, but the next day I realised he had stolen 3 pairs of my knickers off the washing line! Fernandez asked us to give a description of the man to the police and there followed a comical police interview with me trying to describe my 3 pairs of (un sexy!) knickers in Spanish to them!

The weather turned nasty after 3 days - cold, windy and rainy, the views became bleak and it felt more like Cornwall in winter but about 50 years ago!We stuck it out though and it ended up good again. We had planned on 3 days here, we left today after 6 days and even that was hard.We were just getting to know the people and beginning to feel right at home. It really is my favourite place in our trip so far, and not somewhere I will ever forget!
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Comments

aquaman
aquaman on

BEEN FAIR
HI: I WAS BORN IN CHUY THIS PLACE WHERE THE THINGS 'duty free shops' sold products that would surely have cost a months salary here(exaggerated) and Horses and carts trotted along next to cars that looked like they belonged in a museum, AND THE CAPITAL OF MY COUNTRY IS 'THIS IS THECAPITAL??!!....OK BUT THE IMPORTANT THING IS'We may not have been in Uruguay proper yet but the difference in the people was incredible - without exception the Uruguayans have been the most helpful, genuine and friendly people I have ever met'THANKS FOR THAT AND U R WELCOME WHENEVER YOU WANT. Marcelo

caznjasonescape
caznjasonescape on

Re: BEEN FAIR
Dear Marcelo

Uruguay is a place which travellers usually tend to miss out. The message I have tried to portray in the 3 entries about Uruquay is that this is a major mistake in my opinion. I think Uruguay offers travellers so much that other South American countries can't and it is rare to meet a population who were without exception so incredibly friendly and helpful. I am sorry that you picked up on the only negative comments I made. These were tongue-in-cheek observations and for example, the title 'and this is the capital?' refers only to the size and relaxed nature of Montevideo compared to other capitals, again I really liked the city and I have written this!You will be glad to know that I have received messages from other travellers who have been inspired to visit your country from reading this and other travelpod entries.
Caroline

clansgregor
clansgregor on

Chuy or Chui?
I'm Uruguayan currently living in Auckland, New Zealand and got really impressed about your description of your travel in the 'paisito' (little country)
The thing about chuy is that Portuguese doesn't use the letter Y, only I instead. And if you look around, on the Brazilian side of the road it's written CHUI.
There's a thing about small towns like punta del diablo and it's that is so small that all residents now each other. And when people come speaking English they all now about the new 'gringos' in town. Even the bad guys like this mongrel who stoled your stuff. It's a real shame, cause Uruguay is working harder and harder to reduce crimes within the coastline to improve tourism .
In fact, in just 3 years tourist form Europe, USA, and Oceania have increased 7% and the number of cops rec luted is about the same.
This got a side effect though, all the police force is looking after the coast line and just a few in Montevideo, the capital where 45 % of the whole population lives.
Well, this is it from me. You're always welcome to the paisito.
Cheers!

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