Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Somewhere in Uruguay: Cabo Polonio

My dear readers, I just came back from one of the most enchanting places on earth. And that is probably a huge understatement.

This past Friday I left for a place called Cabo Polonio with some friends of mine – Sebastian H. and Julia from Germany, Alma and Lorena from Mexico and Brianna from the US. We took a bus from Tres Cruces Terminal in Montevideo and spent a couple hours driving through Uruguayan lands until we came to the last bus stop before Cabo Polonio. Not that we didn’t stop directly in Cabo Polonio. Why is that? Because Cabo Polonio is located on the edge of nowhere. No, seriously! They are not connected to public power and water supplies and there is only one telephone connection. So we had a weekend with no electricity and only cold showers ahead of us. Slightly Spartan but extremely relaxing!

First view of Cabo Polonio (Note the solitary transmission line!)

As you can kind of see on the picture above, Cabo Polonio is surrounded by the Atlantic on three sides and by massive sand dunes on the fourth side there is no possibility for a bus to get there. So we got off the bus seven kilometers from Cabo and bought tickets for a jeep that took us the rest of the way. Luckily I snatched a seat on the top of the jeep and had a spectacular first view of Cabo Polonio and the landscape. Definitely worth the bumpy ride!

Lorena, Alma, me and Julia - front row on the top of the jeep!

And just as we arrived in Cabo, the sun came out to greet us. I can’t even find words to describe the beautiful simplicity of this place. There are colorful little cabins everywhere and they are all so small and moderate. The difference to the Western world couldn’t be any more obvious. If I had to describe it I guess I would say that it is some sort of very colorful and individual dropout-hippie-fishermen-tourist village with a very eclectic own personality and charm. But that doesn't completely catch the vibe. 

Arriving in Cabo

Since it was off-season there weren’t many tourists and upon arrival it wasn’t very hard to find a place to stay. Luckily we had the two Mexican girls with us and therefore we found a pretty cheap place to stay. A man who has a house rented it to us for 1000 pesos per night. That’s about $50 USD which is pretty much nothing when you divide it by six people.

Our "mansion"

So after we left our stuff at the house we went strolling on the beach for a while and explored our surroundings. After that of course we were slightly hungry and went for some fooood. Sebastian, Alma, Lorena and I decided to have some Milanesas (=sandwich). I decided I]d like to have a Milanesa con Pescado because we were in a fishing village. And when you’re in a fishing village you eat fish.

After that we went towards the lighthouse where we found lots and lots of rocks to climb on. And let me tell you I could probably climb on rocks for a whole day and not get tired of it. And if adding to that there is an ocean to watch I’m a very happy camper.

On top of the rock

Me and my stone turtle :)

Postcard picture

So after some rock climbing, and taking in the scenery we went back and picked up Brianna and Julia who had eaten at a different place and went home. Now we had a chimney and it was getting slightly cold. There was some firewood so we decided to get a fire going. But that was easier said than done. We only had logs and nothing that would catch fire very fast. But I had brought a notebook with me in case I wanted to sketch something. So we tore out pages of the notebook and used it to ignite our fire. And many pages late we had a cozy little fire going.

Now there really is not much to do at a place with no electricity so we enjoyed some conversations and went to bed quite early. Of course that meant that we woke up pretty early the next day. And that is a good thing because when you’re at a place that is so beautiful you want to enjoy it as much as you can.

Accordingly we got up early the next day and had some breakfast. Toast that Brianna “toasted” in a frying pan that is. Afterwards we went for some Tortas at one of the local restaurants. I had me a very fine torta with dulce de leche and meringue. Dee to the licious!

Now we were all saturated for a little tour and so we left towards the beach. On our way through the village we encountered some horses and ponies that were just walkign around freely. No fence, no rope, no nothing. We also met a little girl who fed the horses and took Julia by the hand to show her how to feed the horses. She was just too darling.

Our little friend with one of the horses

A colorful playground

Boats and reflecting sunlight

We went strolling on the beach for a while, towards a point that seemed to be all rocks and a beautiful view again. When we started it looked pretty close. Something between half an hour and an hour away. But as it turns out we had to walk one and a half to two hours to get there. On the way we “lost” Brianna and Julia who didn’t want to walk as far. And soon Sebastian and I seemed to be the only ones going there. But Alma and Lorena caught up to us in the end and the four of us enjoyed some more rock-climbing and picture-taking and scenery-enjoying.

On the rocks again

Sebastian and I

The way back took us another eternity and when we came back we were pretty starved. So Sebastian and I cooked some Spaghetti with Tomato sauce which we brought to save some money on food. It wasn’t the best lunch but it was edible. Who cares?

After a little while Brianna and Julia came back together with Rose, an American friend of ours who decided to join us for the weekend. A little later the three of them decided to chill at the beach and the rest of us decided on some more exploring.

First we checked out the Artesania market in the town center and then we wanted to spot some seals. To be honest, I was a little bit disappointed because we only saw two living seals and one that was slowly decomposing on a rock.  

Sleepy seal

Buuuuut there were a lot more rocks to climb so that was a good distraction. Adding to that the view of the ocean was great and there were massive waves all around. It was just amazing how strong the waves were crashing against the rocks up front. And yet the stones lay there untouched by that force. What fascinated me was that in between the rocks there were small pools of silent water that was barely moving. The contrast couldn’t be any bigger.

Massive waves against the rocks

Goofing around.... on a rock

After that we decided to visit the lighthouse. So we bought tickets and up the spiral staircase we went. And let me tell you, the view we got at the top was simply breathtaking. Cabo Polonio is such a wonderful and colorful place and no matter how good a camera is you can never capture all its beauty. We were also really lucky because it was sunny and the light reflected on the ocean which offered a very gorgeous view. I wouldn’t have minded staying up there forever but it was so windy that we went back down anyway.

Postcard picture 2.0

Somewhere over there is South Africa...

So when we came back we soon decided our next stop would be a restaurant because exploring makes you hungry. So we had some more fishhh. Well not exactly fish. This time I decided to try some shark. I have never eaten shark before and didn’t really know what to expect. But in the end it tasted just like fish to me. Maybe slightly more chewy.


And then afterwards we were already kind of stuffed but decided to have dessert anyway. So we all split some “Flan de Coco” (some sort of pudding) with Dulce de Leche (everything sweet comes with Dulce de Leche here). No picture of that sweet delicousness though because it was gone in an instant. I kind of felt like a fatty afterwards. A very happy fatty.

And since it gets verrry dark in Cabo Polonio and the lack of electricity kind of implies that there are no street lights we went home after dinner and tried our fire making skills again. After we took some firewood from our landlord/neighbor who hasn’t been there all day. So we pretty much stayed at the cabin for free. Well he came the next day and of course we paid him so it wasn’t really free.

Cabo Polonio at night

This time though, we had some more troubles with the firemaking. As mentioned above we "stole" the logs from our landlord-neighbor because they were lying in front of his own cabin. Now it had rained the night before and I am pretty sure they weren't all dry and good to burn. We managed to get a fire going anyway and at some point Rose decided to toss in a spare roll of toilet paper to expand the fire. Quite a distinct method of firemaking...

Our toilet paper fire

Forward-looking me of course had brought a deck of UNO cards, so we decided to play that for a while. Which was a little complicated because everyone plays this game according to different rules. Can you put a take-4 on a take-2? Can you “throw in” cards with the same color and number? Can you switch cards with someone at zero? So many different opinions! So we really didn’t play it for a long time and switched to plain talking. Which was nice, too.


At around 9.30pm we went outside for a bit for some star gazing. And since, except from the lighthouse, there were only very few and very dim lights in Cabo Polonio, there was nothing that spoiled the reflection of the stars. A few clouds here and there. But it still seemed like we could see every little star there is in the sky. It was just like the place itself – simply beautiful.

After a while though it got a little chilly so we went back inside. I lay down on the couch and fell asleep pretty much in an instant. I actually wanted to go to a bar with Brianna, Julia and Rose that night, but they left without me and since the night was pitch-black I decided to go to bed, instead of searching my way into town. But that wasn’t a bad idea after all because Sebastian and I had decided to visit the sand dunes of Cabo Polonio the next morning. We didn’t really have the chance to see them before and we expected better weather for the next morning. So I called it a night and went to bed. And I fell into a very very deep sleep. Just like the night before when I slept through a storm without noticing any of it, that night I didn’t even hear it when the girls came back from the bar. Not one sound. I really am a deep sleeper.

So the next morning Sebastian and I got up at about 8ish and after some breakfast we set out for the sand dunes. Now I think those are the biggest sand dunes in South America. You can’t really tell on the pictures because pictures make them look a lot smaller. But they were gigantic.

We were really lucky with the weather as well because in spite of some clouds the sky was blue and beautiful. And we took some amazing photos. Most of the ones with me in them look slightly improvised because I got slightly distracted by the scenery around me and just wanted to spin and dance around in the sand. But that’s the beauty of life – Distractions!

The joy of pure being!

Upon our return we had a little second breakfast with the others at the house and because Sebastian got the antsy pants at some point we went to the Artesania market once more and got matching bracelets. That’s right – BFFs! Haha.

Second breakfast

Colorful Artesania stands

After that we were up for some food again because we knew we had a bus ride with no food in front of us. So yes, more food. I decided on some empanadas. Beef, corn and fish. Of course all three of them were delicious but the fish empanadas were definitely my favorite.  After that we headed back to the house, packed our stuff and killed some time. I used that remaining bit of time to sketch my surroundings and enjoy the sun. A bit too much I guess because my nose got a little too pink. But I am convinced that the rest of me actually got tan over the weekend. And everybody who knows my usual paleness probably won’t believe this but I swear there is a difference!

So ultimately we had to get on the jeep that took us away from one of the most beautiful places on earth. Big sob here. But the weather started to get worse anyway and I guess if you have to stay inside with no electricity or distractions, Cabo Polonio really isn’t all that fun.

Back at the Terminal we had to wait on our bus for a little while but there was a random surfer guy playing the guitar and I really didn’t mind listening to him.

Wherever you go in Uruguay... seems like there's always some random guy playing the guitar :)

A little while later we finally got on the bus headed towards Montevideo. I spend most of the time sleeping and gazing at the landscape which in my opinion looks quite similar to the US or maybe even parts of Germany if you ignore the occasional palm trees. While getting closer to Montevideo we also got closer to sundown and I got to watch one of the most incredible sunsets. The sky was full of incredibly strong colors and contrasting clouds. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful weekend.

AdiĆ³s, Cabo Polonio! I hope I'll see you again sometime!

No comments:

Post a Comment