There are a lot of beach towns in Uruguay, including Punta del Este, Punta del Diablo, La Paloma and Cabo Polonio. We felt like getting away from people, chilling by the beach and surfing. Everything pointed us towards Punta del Diablo which is the most remote (the furthest north and on the border with Brazil) and has some of the best surfing in Uruguay. Our plan was to spend a few days there and make our way back to Argentina via the really remote beach towns of La Paloma and Cabo Polonio (so remote you can only access it via prearranged 4x4s through the dunes and there is no electricity). The best made plans don’t always work out…
Punta del Diablo is known as a small little hippie village popular for surfing. It has become popular over the years for backpackers as a more affordable and laid back alternative to the glamour of Punta del Este. The town is filled with international surfers, local fishermen, backpackers and Brazilian / Argentinian holiday makers looking for some fun by the beach. The accommodation is a mix of luxurious holiday homes, budget hostels and hippy houses made out of shipping containers. One of the charms is that there has been little infrastructure work done here, but the ever-growing tourism industry is visibly stressing the town.
We had been traveling pretty much non stop since we arrived in South America so we were determined to make the most of the good weather, the great beaches and warm water. We woke early on our first day and headed straight to the beach for a relaxing morning of stretching, a light workout and a swim. Time to recharge the batteries a little. We presumed that going early would mean we avoided the heat of the sun, but we should never underestimate an Irish man’s skin… Steven, like all Irish men, is no stranger to sunburn but the two parts of this burn meant we would end up leaving Uruguay early.
It took a day and it started out like a small sunburn in the areas that Steven forgot to put sun cream on after he took of his t-shirt while doing pilates on the beach (He can hear the abuse from the lads at home). See the beautiful whiteness below?? It didn’t last long !
In the meantime we decided we had enough of our hostel, queuing to cook our food, dance music until 5 am and terrible dorms so we changed hostels. After a night in the new hostel the sunburn had fully appeared over most of Steven’s upper body and was quite painful. But “it’s just a burn, it will go away”. Again determined not to let events ruin our stay and covered in cream and a t-shirt we rented a bike to cycle to Parque Nacional Santa Teresa, where first we got lost taking a shortcut on the advice of locals and Jenny got a sting off an aggressive caterpillar which made her finger swell to the size of a cocktail sausage! A slight detour to the health clinic and a pleasant cycle around the Parque Nacional Santa Teresa and the second bad part of the sunburn appeared once we returned.
Many who know Steven knows that he gets very sweaty in the sun or when doing exercise and while cycling in 30 degrees Steven began to sweat. Because his skin was burnt the sweat was unable to escape and the sweat became trapped underneath the burnt skin causing some pretty ugly sweat bubbles. PANIC! After visit to the health centre… again… and a less than enjoyable time in Uruguay we decided it was time to give up and go back to Buenos Aires to allow Steven to heal in a clean and relaxing environment at Jenny’s friends house.
Leaving early and with the bad burn meant that we spent Valentine’s night in a hotel in Montevideo on the way back to Buenos Aires. Steven unable to move and Jenny applying cream to his shoulders while eating reheated supermarket food was not how we imagined ending our Uruguayan experience or our Valentine’s Day, but we think this showed our love for each other.
To finish on a positive note we had a pretty fantastic moment on our final night in Punta del Diablo. After changing hostels we ate in the restaurant which was part of the hostel and watched as a storm came closer and closer to us. It was already night and we could see the sky lighting up as if the most powerful firework display was going on over head. Every time lightning would strike we could see that the point of explosion moving towards us. We spent 30 – 40 minutes staring out the window as the storm moved across the sky from left to right. Completely amazing and it was probably the highlight of our time in Uruguay.