Monday, July 20, 2009

Punta del Diablo, Uruguay

As we approached Punta del Diablo I was excited to see it was as ¨scarcely developed¨as the guide book promised. Although the hillsides are filling up with houses there is no bank in town, y not a store in sight except family businesses run out of beach shacks. We were dropped off and left alone as the bus left us in a cloud of dust. There was a woman at the ¨bus station¨and a woman in a mercado but they pretty much ignored us. Believing nothing to be open we got snacks at the mercado, checked out the bus schedule (with surprisingly frequent service) y set out down a dirt path in search of anywhere to stay or pitch a tent. At this point I was really hoping to find somewhere as I was quite taken by the remoteness of this beautiful place we were lucky enough to happen upon. Right up against the ocean amidst long stretches of pristine beach we walked among what we found out later to be the original fisherman settlement. Silly, windblown, picturesque, Dr. Seuss houses jumbled together along a sandy foot path. We eventually came out at the main dirt road where a tourist office was open! Apparently, everywhere else in town forgets to take down their "Abierto!" "50 meters mas!" and arrow signs in the winter. The lady there gave us the names of two hostels that should be open and as we set out once more we ran into the lady that owned one of them. The nice, friendly, English speaking woman led the way to her new, little hostel with enormous deck that overlooked the ocean. We dropped our bags and she showed us her secret path right down to the beach where 2 restaurants were open, their menus heavily influenced by the sea. The central beach is filled with small, wooden fishing boats still in use and hauled in and out of the ocean by old fashioned cranks. We re-walked through the original fisherman settlement and out along the shell covered beach. Crossing back through town we stopped for lunch y walked it off down the other end of the beach. We walked to a point as far as we could see from town only to turn the corner to have it unveil another endless, perfect, undeveloped stretch that we could have walked along into the night but decided to turn back. We went early to bed after a beautiful day, sharing a bottom bunk with the wind howling and the moon shining brightly in our window.

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