If ever I could say “back in nam” it would be on the ferry ride to Uruguay. Justin, still drunk and hurting from the concoction of Fernet and lack of sleep, was hunched over with his head resting on the seat in front of him. The boat had not even moved yet. The flashbacks of nam. Visions of Justin sweaty and puking played in my head. It was the bus ride to Hoi An all over again.
To add to his (and everyone else’s) pain, the what we though to be an enjoyable ferry ride tortured us with a blaring DVD loop of 90’s pop stars music videos. Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, and Mandy Moore serenaded us as we crossed the Rio de La Plata. It wasn’t long until we all had ear plugs in and were rocked to sleep by “hit me baby” 10 more times. Torture much? Back in Nam indeed.
We arrived in Colon Uruguay to find that we had to transfer to a bus to take us to the capitol. Justin was in the bathroom throwing up and wasn’t going to like this news.
Just like when we were back in Nam. To our pleasant surprise the bus was very comfortable and we all slept until our destination.
We arrived at the bus station more than a little disoriented. The overly nice hotel we booked was a block away from the ferry terminal where we thought we were arriving. Not 5km away at the bus terminal. When I showed our cab driver the hotel address he gave me a look as if to say “Are you sure??” Odd…
Our hotel was very nice indeed. Super modern and super clean however everything around it was not. It was right in front of a market which was cool however this market was billowing BBQ smoke that smelt like campfire and garbage. We enjoyed our welcome drink of clericó ( white wine and fruit juice mix) and sat on the roof top pool and enjoyed the sun and not so sweet BBQ scent.
We re-grouped and toured the market which mostly consisted off BBQ restaurants. Justin was not well and the scent and sight of meat cooking on the open grills pushed him over the edge. He retired to his room to vomit and rest while we ate what would be the best empanadas we had all trip.
To our surprise Justin bounced back very quickly and met up with us as we left the market for a tour of the old town. Plenty of cool buildings, squares, graffiti, and donkeys pulling carts followed.
One thing I had read about Montevideo was it was lined with sandy beaches. This in mind we headed towards the water in search of a spot to enjoy the afternoon sun. All we found was a giant wall that kept you from an uninviting and rocky beach bellow.
We made our way past the shipping yard, a decrepit looking hospital, and a homeless shelter before reaching our hotel. We were pretty sure at one point there was a failed pickpocket attempt on Justin. Painting a good picture here.
We made our way back to a busy pedestrian street that was lined with little shops and cafes only to find that everyone was quickly packing up for the day. Huh. We decided to make our way back to the hotel along the water. In the distance I saw a pier and suggested we walk out it but as we got closer and closer the area and people got dodgier and dodgier. Once at the water we looked down the long pier and all thought the same thing without saying it. We would be trapped if we went down there.
The market was now deserted yet still emitting dark smoke. I wondered what they were burning. Not sure what to do with ourselves we made our way back to one of Montevideo’s many old cafes (one that was not closed down for the night) and shared a meat and cheese plate and had the first decent coffee I had on the whole trip. Up until then all coffee had been instant, even coffee from the Cafes in BA. It’s as if they don’t know that Brazil and Columbia are their neighbors.
Full but bored we searched the now dark streets for a place to have diner. We could only find 3 restaurants open and they were directly across from our hotel next to the market. These 3 restaurants were all huge and all deserted. Where is everyone? Houses and shops were closed up as if vampires were coming to town for their evenings feast. This would become the running joke of the evening.
Diner, although surprisingly expensive, was delicious. Sticking with my theme I enjoyed a giant kebab, the original meat on a stick.
With the town creepy and deserted we decided to enjoy our expensive hotel rooms and called it a night.We all agreed we would be safe from the vampires there anyway.
I fell asleep feeling more than a little disappointed by the city.
In the AM we had a ride to the airport by the Uruguayan version of Ryan Gossling in “Drive”. Only difference was that instead of a scorpion jacket this guy rocked a moss green cardigan and was about 200 lbs heavier. Still he raced us to the airport like we were being chased by police or gangsters. We swerved and nearly avoided cars, pedestrians and donkeys. To my pleasant surprise he took us along the coast and past numerous nice sandy beaches, parks, and clean modern buildings. Montevideo, I misjudged you.