Montevideo, Uruguay
34° 51' S 56° 10' W
Feb 02, 2004 21:17
Distance 160km

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Text written in: English

To Montevideo (2 February 2004)

Ruta 1 goes east from Colonia to Montevideo, the capital of La Republica Oriental de Uruguay as the country is officially called. I had bought a ticket for the 13:00 o'clock bus as I did not want to get up too early. Why should I if I do not have to? I almost overslept beyond the 11:00 AM check out time as my alarm did not seem to work for some reason. After a quick shower and breakfast with boiled eggs, which I had not had since Chiloe, that the Pole had left for me as he did not want to travel with them, handed over the key and left for the bus station.

The bus left right on time and the drive through southwest Uruguay was nice. Much greener rolling countryside than the relatively dry pampas south and west of Buenos Aires. It was mainly agriculture here as well with many colorful sun flower fields. In Montevideo I got off at the bus terminal, three kilometers from the city center. A reservation for one of the cheapest hospedajes was made in a minute, and I jumped on one of the city buses that said Aduana, the Customs House at the harbour in the old part of town. I got off about halfway and walked to my hospedaje. First I walked the wrong way from the square, on the opposite side I had to go. Then an incredible thing happened.

Some guy came running towards me with a child on his arm and said he knew me. This happens all the time in about every country you visit and is a basic trick to steal some of your luggage or pick your pockets while you talk to him. So I was trying to get rid of him by denying that he knew me. Then he said I had been to Thailand. Again I denied although I had been to Thailand and I thought it was a wild guess again, as many tourists have been to Thailand. Then he said that I was from Holland. That made me stop for a second. Guess who this guy was? It was the first Uruguayan person I had ever met in my life and that was on Great Keppel Island in Australia in 2001! Unbelievable that I bump into Martin again, after almost three years! I mean hat is the chance that this happens? Less than zero I would say. It was also the guy who gave me a watch in Australia when I told him I lost mine in the hot air balloon trip I made from Cairns. He had found a cheap but working watch and did not want to use it, so he gave it to me. In the lunchroom where they had lunch I met his wife Sandra, who also remembered me and her father who had never been on Great Keppel Island. The little boy, Diego, was 6 months old.

After a short memory refreshing moment they had to go and I had to go to my reserved hospedaje but we agreed to meet for dinner that night. So after another two hours strolling around some streets downtown Montevideo we met at some small restaurant on the small but green Plaza Cagancha with a little lit fountain in the middle and chatted away the evening while we talked about Australia, Sweden, where they live (they were only on holiday here for 6 weeks visiting family) and other travel destinations we both had been to.

They told me that I had to be in Montevideo for the carnival, which lasts 40 days in Montevideo. Friday evening there would be a drumming parade about 4 blocks from my hospedaje. After some doubts, because I am not a carnival person at all I decided that a visit to South America without a carnival parade would not be complete. It would be like going to the Netherlands and not listening to Andre Hazes. Mmm, bad example I guess. I am not going to stay until Friday in the capital, but will visit some beaches as a day trip from Montevideo as 5 days Montevideo is a bit too much.