The Initiation

Trip Start Feb 10, 2006
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12
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Trip End May 31, 2006


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Where I stayed
Oasis Hotel

Flag of Uruguay  ,
Sunday, March 19, 2006

Although we are soon-to-be world travellers, Ed and I do have a couple trips in our resume which we shared. We were talking about them a few days ago, remembering and laughing together of the fun we had and we thought it'd be nice to include them in our logs, since they are, after all, all about the travelling.

Last year Ed and I wanted to get away for a long weekend and decided to do so to Punta del Este, a beautiful costal city of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay. Punta del Este, which translates into "East Point", is a very popular summer destination for people from Uruguay and Argentina as well. In the high season (December through Febuary)it's incredibly crowded, noisy and busy so I thought it was a good idea to get to know the city in its normal everyday mode, away from the frenzy of summer tourists. The only thing missing was warm weather. Can't have it all.

So we took a few days off work to prolong our trip, booked the ferry from BA, and on early September 2005 were on our way. We boarded the ferry at around midnight, settled in our seats, had the Speed and Vodka drinks we sneaked in our backpacks, and prepared for the 6 hour ride to Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay. We ventured into the Duty Free Shop where I got Altoid Sours and went out into the deck to get a breath of fresh air. It was so cold my ears, hands and nose froze in about 30 seconds so I ran back in (Ed followed reluctantly)and went back to our seats to try to get some sleep.

We arrived in Montevideo and I was so asleep I hardly knew my name, where I was, where I was going or whom I was with. Ed dragged the bags and me as fast as he could towards the exit so that we'd be the first to get off the ferry, and the first to get on the bus that would take us on a 3 hour drive to Punta del Este.

I slept the entire way to Punta del Este and woke up with the sun shining in my face and an azure wall to my right. The sight of the ocean woke me up instantly like a slap in the face. I shook Ed and motioned him to look out the window as a 8 year old's first trip to the sea. Of course I had been to Punta del Este before and I had most definitely seen the ocean before, but after a while of living in the city, you get excited even in the presence of a puddle of water.

We arrived at the bus terminal and waited for the car rental place to deliver our car. It was cold outside, but the air was crisp and the sky was cloudless, there were few people in the streets and we had the ocean to ourselves. I was so happy to be there with Ed...it was our first trip together and somehow I could tell it was going to be a total success.

We were given a cute cherry-colored car and after we sent the car person away, we hurriedly shoved our bags in the trunk, and jumped in for a drive around the town. It was definitely a quiet city in the low season, and I was grateful for that. Ed had lived there for about a year when he was younger, so he gave me the tour. First we visited the docks where we stopped to see the view of the city. We then stopped to visit a friend of Ed's, Pascual. We had lunch at his place and I burned some music cd's for the car in his computer while the boys did some catching up.

After a while, I politely hinted to Ed I wanted to go in search for a place to stay....that's right, we still did not have a clue as to where we were staying. We had a few options: Pascual offered his couch, Ed's aunt and uncle had a place in Punta del Este too, there was his grandmother Coco who also had space to accommodate us in, or we could always look for a hotel. Since this was our first trip together, we wanted to spend complete quality time with each other without having to depend on anyone else, or having to put someone out of their way for us either. So we thanked Pascual for his generous offer and took off in search for a hotel. We drove around for a few hours, first to the cheapest part of town. We found the hotels there to be absolutely disgusting. We stopped to look at a few but we thought the prices were high in relation to the condition of the place. I'm talking about really dingy hotels....the kind you don't know what you're gonna find under the sheets, the kind that have old car tires in the "lobby". We drove away from that part of town as fast as we could and headed toward the center of the city where all the big important 5-star hotels were. Not that we intended to stay in a 5 star hotel, but we found a great hotel called Oasis which was exactly that. For 30U$D a night, we had a great clean hotel room with a nice bathroom, breakfast buffet included, and surprise surprise.... a heated indoor swimming pool. When the nice receptionist told us the pool was working, we immediately took a room without giving it much further thought.

We settled in, had a short cat nap and woke up for a quick swim before dinner. It was so very relaxing. The water was very warm so steam was rising from the pool, turning it into a sauna, and with the lights dimmed low, it looked like a perfect movie murder scene. It was hard to see a few meters in front of us, so it was fun to play hide and seek in the dark water with Ed. We relaxed in the hot water for about an hour. We were so happy to be there we didn't want to budge. It's the same feeling you get when you're enjoying a hot bath and the phone rings, you really can't be bothered to pick up. Luckily, we found out there were only two more couples in the hotel so the chances of running into each other were slim. We had the hotel to ourselves, and we declared the pool to be ours.

The next day, after a good rest, we got up early in the morning, went for a quick swim, had breakfast and took off for a drive. The night before we had arrived to Punta del Este, there had been a hurricane storm, the worst the city had seen in years. This was only a few weeks after Katrina. Trees were thrown everywhere, some completely rooted off the ground. It was sad to see so many dead trees on the ground, but thankfully little or no damage was caused in the houses or any of the people. We were also told that the day we arrived was the first sunny day they had had in over a week. Lucky them....

We drove to a nearby town, Jose Ignacio, which seemed completely abandoned. This place had amazing beach houses and gorgeous scenery. Everything was closed up for the winter so it was a ghost town. The houses were locked and the shops and restaurants were closed. Ed and I explored the beaches and found a maze of rocks. We began to climb up, around and through them, taking pictures, looking for crabs, finding hiding places. In between a few huge rocks we found a purple sea shell cemetery; weird I know but it was there and they were all purple and lilac colored shells...see the picture if you don't believe me. It began to get dark and we had to find our way out of there. It was also getting very cold. We moved out of the rocks as fast as we could and thankfully the last hint of light was gone when we immersed from our rock maze.

We drove back to Punta del Este stopping on the road back to watch the stars and listen to the sound of frogs and crickets....no cars or signs of people anywhere, just us in the dark. We laid on the hood of the car for a few minutes (too cold to stay longer)in total silence, listening to what we don't usually hear in the city....nothing.

Next morning, Ed took me to see his family. I met his aunt, uncle and cousin who all lived in a beautiful house with many dogs. I was a bit nervous since it was the first time I was meeting any of Ed's family, I hadn't even met his parents yet, but they were all very nice and congratulated Eduardo on picking such a pretty girl...blush blush. Next we moved on to Coco's house, a beautiful chalet with glass walls situated on a small hill with a great view of the ocean and most of Punta del Este. Coco was overjoyed to see Ed and welcomed us both for something to drink.

Next day we hopped in the car and drove to another town near Punta del Este where the houses had more space and land in between them, where there were no shops or restaurants near by, and there were definitely no people. Again, we had the town to ourselves. This time, it was a beautiful day; although it was still cold, the sun was shining hard so we found a nice spot on our private beach and enjoyed the sun with a few beers. The hard part was climbing the dune back out: getting down is easy cause you slide down with the sand, but how do you pull yourself up on a steep wall of sand? It wasn't even slanted, it was an actual wall. It was hard work and we had good laughs watching each other (especially me) slip and fall. We had to grab roots coming out of the sand and somehow lift ourselves up.

That night we unfortunately had to share our pool with a Brazilian couple who had just arrived. There was an unspoken territorial agreement about who belonged in what side of the pool...Ed and I took he lower half of the pool (the deep end) while they stayed on the shallow end. It wasn't that we were being rude we just didn't feel like socializing or making friends, the trip was only about us and enjoying each other. We later took a pizza up to our room and sat in our huge bed in our towel robes munching pizza and discussing what we were to do the next and last day in Punta del Este.

I had never ever gone fishing in my life, so Ed took me boat fishing. Despite the fact that I was sea sick, freezing my butt off, and had no idea what I was doing with the fishing rod, I caught more fish than anyone on the boat...including a long eel-like fish which made screeching noises and was still alive after being 3 hours out of the water. I named it Nessie.

We took our catch of the day back to Coco's house where she made us lunch with it. I realized how different it is to eat fish just pulled out of the water, and fish that's been pulled out a week ago kept in cold. It was absolutely delicious. She cooked it with lemons, salt and pepper and in the oven it went with a few potatoes.

We had to leave shortly after lunch to pack, pay for the room, and return the car to catch our bus back to Montevideo. Since we were travelling all night and we had to be back at the office the next day, we tried to rest as much as we could. The excitement from starting a trip was gone and now the depression of ending it was sinking in. It's like when you're small and your parents throw you a birthday party with everything you wanted including a hot dog stand, a clown, a piņata, all your school friends, all the snacks you asked for including the most ridiculous ones. And all of a sudden, after what seems like only minutes after, it all comes to an end. The feeling is the same. I've mentioned before that I had the chance to travel ever since I was very little, so for as long as I can remember the same feeling of emptiness comes over me when I come back from a trip. Just the thought of returning to my daily routine after amazing vacations was enough to make me shed tears. My dad had similar feelings. In this case I thankfully had Ed next to me who was going to retake the same routine with me, so that made the blow a little gentler. It's easier to cope with things when you know someone is there with you.

We arrived at my apartment at around 7 am, we snuggled into bed for a quick nap before going off to work and thus returned to our old routines. Little did I know that only 9 months later the routine in my life would be exactly the opposite of what I knew it to be.
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