Articles Tagged with Uruguay

[D77] Casa Pueblo – The Gaudi House in Uruguay

[D77, March 4, La Barra/Uruguay]

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Casa Pueblo is a castle/house/workshop/studio (now a public house and a hotel part) by the Uruguay’s national artist Carlos Páez Vilaró.

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At 91, he just passed away a few days ago, and his funeral was almost one of a national hero, which created heated debate in the media. The house was a complex of imaginary and fairy-like rooms, forms, and curving lines. Huge, but we only got to visit a small section, the rest was hotel and private housing. It reminds me of Gaudi and some of Picasso’s painting. An interesting man with footprint in four corners of the world, in painting, film, ceramics, and, interestingly, revolutionary. There was a very well done documentary (autobiography style) to watch in the in-house theatre (another room of genius).

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Nina bit her lower lip while playing on a bench. Another small accident that fortunately didn’t last long.

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Jose, our Airbnb host in La Barra, dropped us off near the house in the morning around the cliff (great view with ferocious wind). To get out, we had to take a taxi or to get a lift as there was no public transportation back to the city center. We took the only taxi that was dropping off a client, and got another couple to share the fare back to Punta. It started to rain once taxi set off.


P.S: to follow our RTW experience: Trilingual Family blog, or join Trilingual Family facebook group

[D75] Carnival in Uruguay

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I went out to watch carnaval in La Barra – a small town next to overly developed Punta del Este. Oh!! What a surprise! Less than 10 min walk from home, there was a small stage set up on the village green. Carnaval here apparently was different performance groups competed with each other in the form of show, costumes, drumming skills etc, and it lasted the whole month of Feb. Today and tomorrow are public holidays called Carnaval, it’s the end of the carnival season. The group I saw put on such a colorful, vibrant and energetic show with their amazing costume and singing and dancing and drumming. There were perhaps 30 of them, including three kids, one at the age of 6 or 7 I would guess. In the audience there were lots of families, many with young kids, some even younger than Nina. Latino way of childhood!

I was mesmerized by the joy from the show and the atmosphere created by the audience. There was the real wood BBQ made hamburge. Mostly locals were in the audience, so the show was far from the touristy show.   I couldn’t be more appreciative than the opportunity I have to witness and be part of such festivities around the four corners of the globe.

Topping the ice was the many glowing worms on the way walking back home along side the street. I haven’t seen them since my childhood. Together with the stars above the head, they made me a very lucky being.

[D80 – 82] Magical Cabo Polonio / Uruguay

[After almost three weeks of lack of reliable internet connection, if at all, I’m back to work on the backlog – now that we’re settled in an apartment in Salta (north Argentina) for at least a week. ]

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D80, March 7, La Barra-> Cabo Polonio

As our airbnb host L. & J. were going away to their family’s summer house in Cabo Polonio for weekend, they asked if we wanted to spend the last two days over there instead of in La Barra. Cabo Polonio is beautiful, they said! And I also heard some other fellow travelers how they felt in love with the place. Yet we still hesitated a little as we won’t sure if it’s too much of driving for Nina (and us) to handle for a weekend, but decided to follow the instinct and off we went. We became the ‘portable’ guest of L. & J.

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Such a magical place that was! After almost 2 hours of drive we came to the entrance of the national park of cabo polonio, where everyone should park their car and took the special giant truck catered to transport passengers and belongings through the park and got to Cabo. It was the kind of transport that my instinct told me would be a great ride, some people even climbed on the roof level (a bench there for 4 people). The truck ride itself was fun and totally adventure-loaded, negotiating through a rough terrain of sand dune of narrow dirt road in the protected park. It was 7:30pm, the wind picked up, sun going down, becoming chilly but the view was awesome. Almost 30 min later, suddenly the truck was riding on a long beach with sun starting to set to the ocean!

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We stopped in the heart of Cabo, a upper hippie village surrounded by 2 large bays, Atlantic ocean and the national park. Some random houses, some tin roof some architecturally designed, dotted the rolling hills which gently joined the ocean. Oh, what a magical place! By the time it was about 8pm, just in time for the most magnificent sun set. With horses standing on top on the hill, it was picture perfect.

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L’s family house was one of those architecturally designed. Perched on top of the hill, it has large window bay overlooking the ocean as well as the whole village. With solar power and generator, it has the essentials (even a fridge powered by gas!), but used candle light most of time and the rain water.

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Her brother and sister N. and S. were there, who were still in uni and uni started only next Monday. They have been there since Xmas! I totally understand why it’s such a difficult place to leave.

The village would go wild in the summer with all houses occupied, with residents and tourists coming for the summer holiday, and then after the summer the place would go deadly silent. I asked if someone lived here all year round, they said, oh no except the local fishermen, you would be insane to live here, all year round, it’s so isolated and lonely place to be. But it’s THE place to be in the summer.

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We went to the grocery shop just down the hill and bought what’s needed for 4 pizza tonight. The shop worked on credit system with the residents like L’s family. They would pay the lum sum every two weeks or so. Despite its popularity, it certainly still had its village feel.


D81, March 8, Cabo Polonio.

Magic place to wake up to. Even simplest breakfast tasted great here, with such a view and such a lovely weather.

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Went for a walk around. To the east. There were amazing rock formation in pink and red, with sea lions lazily sleeping their days away. There was a lighthouse, which unfortunately didn’t allow anyone under 8 to climb, but the walk around it was sensational enough. Nina loved climb over the rocks and through the rampas, looking at the horses – oh horses that Nina couldn’t get enough of. Then we came to the north beach. This was where most hostels, restaurants and shops were. A backpackers dream place, with hammocks hanging on the a framed cottage overlooking the ocean, with gentle waves and warm water, ah!

Had choripan (sausage in bread) and hambuger and pepper with cheese melted on asado grill, it was a great and simple lunch on the beach side. The asado chef danced and hummed while cooking up our lunch, while Nina and I waited on the bar stool. Definitely the stereotype kind of holiday.

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Another most amazing sun set. Tonight there was not a single cloud and we went down to south beach to see the sunset, watched the sky turned golden, red, purple, the pink, blueish.

Then the moon. The starts. The milk way!! It reminded me the night at kanbura in QingHai. They had a roof top balcony, from where you had an uninterrupted view to the most incredible sky – whole village relied on only candle light mostly so there was only the sky and stars that glimmered. Sensational to say the least!

D82, March 9, Cabo Polonio -> La Tuna

I wish we could stay longer but it’s time to leave today and go to our next home booked.

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We maximized the time in Cabi, morning on the south beach. I went for a long walk along the beach, kilometers long, seemed endless. A sailing boat capsized on the beach since Jan and still wasn’t been able to be got out of water. Cows sleeping or having a stroll on the beavh, nobody was bothered. Cows seemed to enjoy.

Cleaned the house. They brought everything including linen, quilt, towel back to Montevideo as they brought everything in, and now they were closing down the house for this summer. Today most people would leave as it’s the last day before school started again and holiday week was over.

We took the truck at 1pm. Loved the ride yet again. Nina Fell asleep on such a bumping truck. Kids are funny creatures. Drove back to J. & L’ s house to pick up our luggage. She called the bus company cot to reserve seats for us and found out we could just wait in la Barra. They also called the new host to arrange pick up!! Really amazing host, excellent airbnb experience. And a certainly unforgettable weekend.

It’s fair to say that Cabo Polonial was easily one of the highlights in this trip so far.


P.S: to follow our RTW experience: Trilingual Family blog, or join Trilingual Family facebook group

[D76] Mate, finally!

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[D76] March 6, La Barra / Uruguay.

Ever since we arrived in Argentina, we have wanted to try their national drink: mate (to pronoce, put the emphasis on ‘e’, not to be confused with the word in Engish).

We saw people walking around, driving around, beaching around, discussing around, sun bathing around, studying around, traveling around with a special round cup (only later on I learnt this cup is called mate) with some greeen herb like mix inside, and a small bottle with hot water everywhere. It’s such a remarkable thing, they seemed to be more addicted to mate than Chinese to tea. There was even a whole museum in Montevideo with a big section dedicated to mate culture, with some extremely elaborated mate and accessories in display. But in all cafe, bar, and restaurant we asked, they shook their heads and said ‘none’.

A month later, we arrived in La Barra, Uruguay, a beachside small town next to a popular tourist destination  of Punta del Este, in a rented homestay through airbnb at Lucia and Jose’s home. They were simply amazing hosts, who went way out of their way for us. Among all things, they invited us to share mate with them!!!!

They explained to us that Mate actually the name of the round hollow gourd, which is made from calabash (or long melon, or 葫芦) that is cut, carved, treated and became the base of the gourd. Then it’s completed by a leather cover, sealed by silver(?? Or some metal?) on the mouth.

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Lucia then started the ritual. She put the kettle on. She poured some yerba (the chopped herb, which is from the family of holy) into the mate,  and put in a bit of cold water for yerba to sink a bit as I was told yerba absorbs water like sponge. Then she pour some hot water in for the first person (normally the one who makes the mate) to start drinking. To drink, she used the bombilla (a metal straw, with lots of small holes in one end to dip into yerba so to avoid the yerba to be sipped). She sipped a few time till there was no more water (when she felt air coming through the bombilla). Then she poured some hot water in again ( always pour water from the same spot I was told otherwise it changes the taste!!) and passed onto the next person clock-wise.

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I was told it was always the owner of that particular mater who pours water, hence it explains why you cannot have mate in a cafe for example because there has to be an owner, and the whole ritual is very personal (well everyone uses the same bambilla). So we were extremely grateful for having been invited to share mate with them.

When it was my turn, I made sure to take time to taste it. It tasted extremely bitter, with a bit of green tea taste. I could understand why people could get addicted to it because it had a very strong taste of its own.

The next day, before Jose went to work, he prepared him a mate, and left with the mate, bombilla in it, and the thermal water bottle. That would make his day, he told me – mate was like a loyal friend of his, always accompanying him at work, when reading, or painting. It’s certainly a big part of people’s life here.

P.S: to follow our RTW experience: Trilingual Family blog, or join Trilingual Family facebook group