We left Iguazu Falls at around 2pm on Thursday afternoon and arrived at our destination, Montevideo in Uruguay at 8pm the following day. As we are travelling with our Emergency Documents we were uncertain if like Argentina, we would require visas to enter Uruguay. In optimism we had booked our transport and our accommodation so were thankful when authorities allowed us through with not too much hassle. With the last of our long distance journeys over we were happy to finally arrive into a steaming hot Montevideo.
We stayed one night in the capital city and the next day had a quick look through the shops before jumping on a bus to Punta del Diablo. El Diablo is a small fishing/surfing township located on the coast 4.5 hours drive from the capital. During the summer, vacationers from neighbouring Brasil and Argentina flock to the area increasing the population from several hundred to over twenty thousand. Thankfully peak season has passed so there were only a small handful of holidaymakers and the usual backpacking crowd. The small town consists of several sandy streets containing eateries and a handful of shops.
We arrived into El Diablo on a rough stormy evening - we were grateful to be in the fresh air and out of the city. Our hostel was located a few minutes walk from the beach and best of all had several puppies that lived there. The hostel itself was quite nice but as they packed as many people into the rooms as possible the place was anything but its’ namesake – El Tranquilo (quiet).
That evening we decided to treat ourselves at one of the rustic local restaurants on the beach front. Arriving around 8pm we were the only customers but assumed we were early for local standards so went ahead and ordered the ‘grill for two’ craving a feast of decent meat. By the time our meal arrived at our table after 9 pm we were ravenous, but the restaurant remained empty. Launching into our large BBQ pile of meat we soon discovered that our meal was not quite as we had expected as we had inadvertently ordered the local delicacy of offal. As we pulled the platter apart hoping for some steak or chorizo we were disappointed to find a variety of not so delicious assortments of liver, intestines, black pudding and other mystery items. We are not fussy eaters but when you anticipate a meal of good quality meat and are instead presented with bad quality and undercooked chunks of offal with no sauces, salad or anything else - it is difficult to suck it up and just enjoy! Thankfully it did not go to waste as the dismayed waitress cleared the mostly untouched meal from our table and then proceeded to feast on the food with other staff members. Having paid for one of the most expensive meals on our trip we left the restaurant with empty stomachs and had a good laugh on the walk home. At least the wine had been OK.
We had four nights in El Diablo, our aim was to wind down and relax - our wee holiday before returning home. The weather was a mixed bag of hot and sunny for two days and cold and windy for another. We made the most of our time and enjoyed exploring the area, swimming at the beach and just taking in the gorgeous fresh air.
We also enjoyed our first sample of Mate. Mate is a tea which is prepared by steeping chopped dried leaves and drinking this through a metal straw that contains a filter. It is a very common site to see people walking down the street, on the beach, driving, or basically anywhere clutching a flask under their arm and sipping from their Mate cup. It is a ritual which seems ingrained into the culture here so we were excited to try it. It is very similar to green tea having a strong bitter taste but something that could definitely grow on us.
On our last night in El Diablo we found a cute wee eatery that served empanadas and fresh seafood paella. We savoured this as the cold wind blew in from the beach and the sun set over the sea, a great end to a relaxing stay.
The next morning we woke very early to catch the commuter bus to the beach resort of Punta del Este.