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South American Fun Facts
Sat Aug 17, 2002 1:25 pm

Yes, we are killing time in Buenos Aires at the Internet cafe. That is why you are getting a boatload of e-mails from us today.

FUN FACTS In south america, you throw your toilet paper in the WASTEBASKET, not the toilet.

People say (buen dia) more often than (buenos dias)

A chivito is not a sandwich with goat meat (goat is chivo in spanish) NO! It is a beef sandwich in Uruguay

Everywhere you go in Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile, people tote around thermoses of hot water and cups of mate - a kind of tea. Patty and I think this is too much stuff to carry around all day.

Staying in a hotel is cheaper than staying in a hostel in Buenos Aires.

Tango is a form of music as well as a dance.

There are other fun facts I'm forgetting, but we have plenty of time to fill you in on the rest of the details at a later time.

Ciao! Alison and Patty

Uruguay has it all!! from car wrecks to empty beaches!

Sat Aug 17, 2002 1:32 pm

Well, since we last wrote, we decided to take a few days and hop over to Uruguay. We knew we had to take a ferry, so we stopped by the tourist information office and asked about schedules, etc. They could not help, but pointed us to a travel agent down the street. We popped in, and this woman (who was about 60 and wearing leather pants... yuck!) arranged all our travel for us. We opted for the slow ferry at 9am, which takes about 3 hours to cross the Rio de la Plata. She explained that once there, we could ask the people in the bus station to watch our stuff so we could wander Colonia, then return in time for the 8pm bus to Montevideo. I must admit I was a little skeptical, but we had no other real option, so we took her ticket. Also, she booked us into a "beautiful 3 star hotel" in Montevideo, but more on that later.

We arrived in Colonia to find that we were supposed to continue directly onward and not stay a few hours there. After much wandering and asking questions, we discovered that that station was closing so they couldnt keep our bags, and that we could continue on to Montevideo at 8pm only if there was space available on the bus. Otherwise, we had to wait until the next ferry came in at 3am! We finally talked to someone who sent us to find some guys who opened up a storage locker and let us put our bags inside, and we were finally off to see the city with our fingers crossed that we could get on the 8pm bus.

The city itself was worth the hassle. It is charming, incredibly clean, and the people were lovely. We walked all around the old city, which was built by the Portuguesse in the 1500s in response to Spainish Buenos Aires. It isnt very big, though, and we ran out of sights by about 4. We ended up sitting on a dock and watching military guys in wet suits flipping inflatable boats over until dark.

We returned to the bus station and jumped on the first bus out, probably taking some poor people´s seats, but what can you do? We arrived in Montevideo that night, travel weary, and looking forward to our three star accomodation, but guess what....

We arrived at the hotel around 11pm or so. A woman showed us to our room, and turned on this jet engine heater just as we walked in. Alison later opened it to adjust the temperature, and discovered the most vile air filter in existance. We finally figured out how to turn it off and prevent more death air from spewing out. Then we realized why it was on. There were people working in the street just below our window with a jack hammer, a shovel, and saw. The loud heater covered up most of the noise. We thought we were tired enough to sleep anyway, but it got worse and worse. Finally, I tried turing on the tv to drown out some sound, but the volume on the tv was broken, and the station kept going from super loud to quiet over and over again. We ended up having to turn the heater back on just to sleep. The next few nights a man selling peanuts decided to set up shop on the corner below us, and yelled all day and well into the night "Mani" which means peanut. We could hear him distinctly through the window, even with the heater. He became my mortal enemy those few days.

We saw Montevideo the next day, which was pleasent, but it lacks the charm that Colonia has. It is also pretty expensive there, so we ended up buying dinner at the supermarket, and a bottle of medio y medio, which is half white wine and half sparkling wine. Very yummy.

The next day, we decided to head to Punta del Este, a beach resort about 100km east. I´m sure it is lovely in the summer, but it was a total ghost town when we were there, and we spent the whole time trying to find a restuarant that was open. We ended up returning on an earlier bus. It took us twice as long because it went through some other town, and while on the highway, a car wrecked just in front. I actaully saw the crash, which was my first, and pretty darn cool as no one as hurt. Of course the whole bus was climbing on top of each other to check out the carnage.

The next day, we had a chivito- traditional Urugayan sandwich, and headed back to Buenos Aires. Tonight we head to Bahia Blanca and the frigid south to do some hiking and see some wildlife and glaciers. Another overnight bus ride! Yeah! We´ll keep you all posted!


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