Chris' 1994  R100GS/PDChris' new bike, a 1996 F650ULTIMATE JOURNEY Erin's 1997  F650
Living a Dream . . . 2 Live-N-Ride

Nov 4, 2001 -- Day 899

Credit to en Uruguay

-- Story by Chris --

URUGUAY - Country 37 (again), this time with the bikes!

Friday, Nov 2: At around 5pm, we reached the border between Colon (AR) and Paysandu (UR). Passport/Carnet stamping only took about 20 minutes, and everyone was very helpful. We decided to forgo the large city of Paysandu, instead choosing to head some 60kms north for the thermal springs at Guaviyu. A woman from the Uruguay Tourist Association at the border asked if we were looking for camping spots or maybe a $35 bungalow. I told her the $4 campground would be just fine J

The sun was dropping quickly in the west as we pulled up to the thermal springs resort. The area was lush with green grass and trees. We consulted the GPS to confirm from which direction the sun would rise, and chose a suitable patch of green to the west of a group of trees (so as to get maximum shade in the morning). It’s been about 7 months since we last pitched our tent, but unlike the several hours it took to pack the bikes that morning, getting into the routine of setting up camp took only a few minutes – Surprisingly, we immediately fell into our individual tasks/duties.

I don’t know what it is, but I have come to really enjoy camp cooking. Put me in a home with a proper kitchen, and I’ll cook on rare occasions. Put me in the outdoors with our little MSR stove, and some sparse ingredients, and I’ll want to prepare every meal. Remember, we used to live in NYC where you could have everything from Chinese to Indian to Cuban to Italian food delivered hot to your door, in less then 20 minutes, for $10-20! Few of our friends in NYC actually cook meals. You can buy a buttered bagel/roll and cuppa (coffee) for $1 on the way to work, and a sandwich for lunch would run you about $5. Did I tell you the local pet shop delivered cat food and kitty litter to our door every 2 weeks, no extra charge! Say what you will about big city living, it is extremely convenient!

Which is why I think it’s kind of …. I don’t know. I just love cooking when we’re camping. There’s something very comforting in stirring incessantly, trying not to burn our food from the intense quarter-sized flame. It takes a careful balance of enough, but not too much, heat. Not only will I cook the meal, I’ll even offer to clean the dishes! (Mom would never believe this!). One thing I have gotten much better with this trip is that I help out much more with the domestics.

The point is simply that darkness descended upon us as the meal was lovingly prepared, and woffed down like we hadn’t eaten in days. It was only vegetable ravioli with pesto sauce (jar), fresh tomato slices, and a pinch of salt and pepper, accompanied by a $2 liter of a locally brewed cervesa. But feasting under the blanket of clear night, with zillions of stars peering down on us, the meal simply tasted divine. Unfortunately, the mosquitoes also required their dinner supplement, and our efforts to coat ourselves in deete spray did little to suppress the attacks throughout the night – Hey, we all gotta eat! Fortunately for ME, they prefer the taste of Erin J

Saturday, Nov 3: Our fitful night of sleep was finally interrupted by a whirring followed by a thump. Without opening my eyes, I knew some boys were kicking a soccer ball around outside the tent, though the sound was so clear I thought they were playing inside our tent. About 45 minutes later, more rustling from outside signified the arrival of more campers – it was only 8am! A visit to the baņo brought back more memories, this time of tiny porcelain pits India and Nepal. The difference being that the latter doesn’t use paper afterwards, and so have a tap/spigot nearby which can be used to help balance oneself. There is a cutout in the wall to hold toilet paper here, but none provided. Enough potty talk, everything worked out fine J

We spent the day lounging in the hammock, reading, soaking in the sun (mild sunburn), enjoying the meditative comfort of the thermal pools, and watching the locals sipping their mates. Many people stopped by our tent to practice their English, returning later to introduce members of their extended families. As the day progressed, so did the number of campers. Silvio, an elder policeman on holiday, who by the smell of his breath had also enjoyed a few cervesas, literally gave me the T-shirt of his back. By 5pm, families and young partiers alike surrounded our tent, escaping from BA or parts of Uruguay for the holiday weekend. Massive stereo systems litter the earth, pumping out Latin tunes that we don’t understand, but are otherwise quite pleasing. The volume has been reasonable most of the day, but now as darkness once again wraps around us, and the consumption of cervesas starts to take its effect, the volume is rapidly rising. Should be an interesting night!

5:15am, Sunday morning: The stereo was kicking! I’m talking full-on bass and volume control way past maximum. None of the other campers made a peep, so we figured this was acceptable and kept our mouths shut. At 7:15 we crept out of the tent. The DJ next door gave me a big smile and 2 thumbs up, I rolled my eyes, shook my head, and turned away – giving him the ‘ol, no, I don’t think you’re very cool, you pr***! A few minutes later, about a dozen campers from next door came for a visit. It disturbed our young DJ that he was not getting any attention, so he cranked up his stereo so loud that the sound actually cracked. No one acknowledged him, and even he couldn’t take the ear-piercing sound. A few minutes later, the police showed up and escorted him away – where were they at 5am?

I wanted to stay off the main roads, filled with diesel spewing cambiones, and opted for a road on the map, but not on the GPS. It was a great twisting gravel track, complete with several slippery water crossings, running west east through huge cattle/sheep stations of northern Uruguay. In 100kms, we passed one car and one scooter. The only downside was when we reached the border at Rivera, I was covered in dust (Erin led the whole way). The border at Rivera was in the town, and very efficient. 20 minutes later, we rode down the road into Brazil. There was no sign or anything – the city is literally split into 2 halves, and we had to ask if we had crossed into Brazil.

My thoughts on Uruguay: Extremely friendly people....


The large Thermas pools -- water temp was about 38°C (~100F)

A separate area with thermal "showers"

Some folks just wanted to make a fashion statement


Notice the 2 women with their mates (mat-tes)

Pumping out Ricky Martin among others, unfortunately at all hours!

Taking a break in northern Uruguay

Reminiscent of Western Australia, except with those curves...

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