Drinking Mate in Uruguay
Trip Start Aug 26, 2007
40Trip End Jan 05, 2008
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Mate, pronounced "mahtay" is an herb beverage that is extremely popular in Uruguay. I learned that as soon as I boarded the extremely comfortable ferry that would be taking me from Buenos Aires to the city of Colonia in Uruguay. There were people drinking Mate in every nook and cranny of the boat! Everybody came prepared with thermos and herbs in hand. As a semi-backpacker/self appointed travel journalist, I really should have bought a cup of Mate to taste, but after 13 days as a fearless semi-backpacker, I spent my day in Uruguay as a shamelessly lazy semi-backpacker! I found a nice window seat and enjoyed the 3-hour ride to the town of Colonia.
As a New Englander I've been on my share of ferries: Martha's Vineyard, Block Island, Long Island, etc; but NEVER a ferry quite like this. The vessel included on board entertainment, comfortable reclining seats, and the biggest duty free shop I've ever seen! The boat that transported travelers from the hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires across the Rio de la Plata to scenic Uruguay was more like a cruise ship than a ferry--well, minus the sleeping cabins and buffet lines!
In keeping with my lazy semi-backpacker status for the day, I pre-booked a guided city tour which included a walking tour of the historic plazas and neighborhoods, lunch at a charming local restaurant, and a bus tour of the surrounding beaches.
As soon as we arrived in the historic town of Colonia, I thought to myself, "This is more like it!" The cobble lined streets and 17th Century Spanish/Portuguese architecture instantly transported me to the 1600s and made for a very enjoyable day in Uruguay.
The other people in my tour group were all from Argentina. Unlike my beloved Chile, where it was easy to meet people and every trip I took had at least 1 other lone traveling soul eager to buddy up, both Argentina and Uruguay tourists all traveled with loved ones, which really added to my Buenos Aires-born homesickness. Lunch didn't help matters any, as I sat alone and wrote in my journal, as the other members in my group shared the meal with family members and friends. Nevertheless, I made the best of my remaining days, and really enjoyed my time in the picturesque town of Colonia.
After the tour, I decided to buy some reading material for my 3-hour ferry ride back to Argentina. After two weeks outside of the US, I was going through celebrity gossip withdrawal! I'm not sure why I was surprised that even in the biggest bookstores, I couldn't find any of my favorite celebrity magazines, like People and US Weekly. Instead, I settled for an Argentinian celebrity magazine, with pages upon pages of people I'd never heard of. I was delighted when I did find one blurb on American gossip and learned that Halle Berry was pregnant. That, along with my Spanish Cosmo, and I was in fluff literature heaven.