Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cabo Polonio

Cabo Polonio is a few hours west of Punta Del Diablo on the Uruguayan coast. The town is entirely without electricity besides a few sparingly used generators. Wells supply each house with fresh water. Flushing the toilet is done by pouring well water down the toilet and letting gravity take the dirty water down the pipe.

The town is accessible only by huge 4x4 overland trucks or on foot. To reach Cabo Polonio we opted to hike the 7km over sand dunes to reach the town.

Cabo Polonio (like seeminly all of Uruguay) is tiny and charming. On our first afternoon, Willy, the owner of our hotel, the Santa Maradona made us delicious cheese and walnut ravioli.

On the second night the Santa Maradona was full so we opted to rent a small one room cabana on the outskirts of town.

View of Cabo Polonio from the lighthouse.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Punta Del Diablo

Punta Del Diablo (population 700) lies on Uruguay´s east coast near the Brazilian border. Punta Del Diablo is a sleepy surfing and fishing town with unpaved dirt streets and laid back vibes. It could be easy to find yourself lying on the beaches of Punta Del Diablo for weeks on end.

The town feels a bit like Deadwood meets Santa Cruz, with the mix of worn down wooden shacks and surfboards everywhere.

Downtown Punta Del Diablo, seriously.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Montevideo (population 1.3 million), situated on the Rio de la Plata, is the capital of Uruguay. I stayed in Montevideo for four days and spent my time eating chevitos (a delicous Uruguayan specialty) and exploring Ciudad Vieja.

Situated on the corner of Plaza Idependecia, the Palacio Salvo was once the tallest building in South America at 26-stories.

Underneath Plaza Independencia is the mausoleum of Juan Artigas, the General who helped Uruguay gain its independence. You can see two Buckingham Palace type guards standing alert to protect the shiny metallic urn with Artigas´s remains. The crypt looks like something straight out of George Orwell´s "1984" and that Apple commerical where the lady throws the hammer into the screen.

The aforementioned chevito. The chevito comes in both heaping mound-of-french-fry form or the more traditional sandwich form. To start we opted for the french fry mound which is meant to serve two people but can (and did) easily feed three. On top of the papas fritas sit ham, egg, bacon, steak, and cheese.

On Saturday we got went to Mercado del Puerto to eat Parillada. The Parilla (grilled meat) was delicious, but the swarms of tourists fresh off a newly ported cruise ship spoiled the atmosphere.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


After a morning bus ride through the Andes from Valparaiso I arrived in Mendoza, Argentina. Mendoza is a beautiful tree lined city that is famous for its wine and parrilla. Mendoza is dry and hot but irrigation from the surrounding mountains keeps the city leafy and green.

We went on a popular biking wine tour that leaves you jubilant, inebriated, and exhausted.

For about 20 pesos ($5 USD) you get a flight of wines a brief tour of the facilities, plus a seat in the shade atop a gorgeous vineyeard.

Friday, March 12, 2010


After a quick bus ride from Santiago we arrived in Valparaiso. Valparaiso is a gorgeous city built above a harbor and features whimsical winding streets lined with multi colored homes. Pablo Neruda had a home in Valparaiso which we visited. Its worth a visit and is filled with a unique collection of art and furniture collected by Neruda during his travels.

Ascendors were built to help citizens climb the steep cliffs from the city center back to their homes in the hills. They are sprinkled throughout and are still operational.

Getting lost in a random alley above the city.

We took a day trip from Valparaiso to Vina Del Mar. Vina Del Mar is a crappy tourist town filled with casinos and condominiums. Don´t bother going. We continued on up the coast past Vina to the town of Con-Con were we enjoyed a meal with friends from the hostel.

Friday, March 5, 2010


After leaving Chiloe and passing through Puerto Varas we decided to spend some time in Pucon, Chile. Pucon sits between two National Parks and is at the foot of the Villarica Volcano. Villarica is a snow capped volcano where tourists can climb and look in the caldera. We were pretty excited to climb the volcano until we learned that due to the earthquake the Volcano would be closed.

The town of Pucon.

So instead we went to the Cani reserve. Cani is a privately owned nature reserve that was purchased by environmentalists in Pucon to preserve an area of land that was going to be logged. At Cani we got a chance to climb to an elevation high enough to view three surrounding volcanoes and see the "Monkey Puzzle Tree".

Monkey Puzzle Trees at Cani.

Due to geothermal activity created by the volcano, Pucon has a number of thermal pools. We visited one, Therma Pozones, at night and had a great time. But on the van ride back Alexi´s digital camera was stolen by a family sitting behind us.

We also had our first encounter with bed bugs in Pucon. The hostel where we were staying was great, it seemed cleaned and the owners were really friendly and helpful. However, they failed to tell us that the room we were staying in had bed bugs. It became apparent that they knew about the bed bugs because after a few days, unprompted by us, they had the exterminator visit our room.

We stayed in Pucon much longer than anticipated due to uncertainty about how to proceed through areas in Chile that had been affected by the earthquake. So we ended up wandering around town a lot. In Pucon there were an alarming number of stray dogs, and number of which took a liking to us. We took them to the beach and played fetch, etc. We ended up accumulating a roving pack of dogs that would follow us everywhere and patiently wait outside whatever store or restaurant we were at. It was pretty strange walking down the sidewalk with 6 dogs following our every move.