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Posted by Jessica on Mar 21, 2005
Blurry Cows and Palm Trees: A Travel Day

Our alarm went off at 5:15am on Wednesday morning in La Paloma. It was a travel day and we were catching a bus at 6:30am for another coastal town called Punta del Diablo, located about two hours or so down the road. Having established the “no snooze on travel days” rule, we were out of bed and somewhat functioning by 5:16am. Although we had packed most of our things the night before (another rule we’ve established given packing always takes longer then one thinks it will take), we still had a few last minute items to stow away. And after checking the room to make sure we had everything and saying goodbye to the management, we were out the door a little bit before 6am.

The town of La Paloma, the little town we had fallen in love with over our three day stay, was quiet before the sunrise and our walk to the bus stop (about a mile away) was uneventful. We only had to wait a few minutes at the stop, accompanied by a local pup who enjoyed getting his ears scratched, before our bus pulled up at 6:29am. (It should be mentioned that the buses in Uruguay are not only dirt cheap and comfortable, but they have always been on time. Greyhound should take note.) We climbed on the bus in the dark, waited for some people to move from our assigned seats, and began the tasks of stowing our bags in the overhead compartment and of getting comfortable. These tasks, it should be noted, are not especially easy in the dark or on a moving bus, but we eventually settled in for the ride.

The ride felt as if it came in two parts: before the sunrise and after the sunrise. Before the sunrise, with the land around us still dark, the bus simply glided around the curves and up the rolling hills while the bus driver played some, surprisingly, gentle techno music. Feeling rather sleepy (and still not used to the fact that we were actually in Uruguay at 6:30am taking a local bus to a town we had only heard about through word of mouth, instead of sleeping soundly in our bed back in Philadelphia), the entire experience was rather surreal as the bus floated along effortlessly to the beat of the music, stopping now and then at pitch black cornfields to let on and off other passengers. (And I’m still not entirely sure how the bus driver knew when to stop to let a passenger off as there were no indications in said cornfields where a stop should be.)

After the sunrise (and a quick bus change in some little town with more pups at the bus stop), it appeared that the bus was surrounded by palm trees and cows. And although growing up in Ohio allowed me many opportunities to see cows (and to milk one when I was in Pre-School), it did not prepare me for the contradiction of seeing a cow next to a palm tree. And it certainly did not prepare me to see a cow next to a palm tree next to the ocean. Needless to say, I found myself both confused and delighted, and spent the remaining portion of the trip trying to take a picture to capture everything. (Unfortunately, the bus driver wasn’t about to slow down for pictures and the cows weren’t about to run to keep up with the bus. Neither were the palm trees, for that matter. But I do have several pictures of blurry cows and palm trees with the ocean in the background and that, my friends, is enough for me.)

About an hour into the trip, Tim and I realized we had no idea when to get off the bus. Now before you think this means we were not prepared (which, I suppose, we weren’t), let me explain that the bus line doesn’t really have any brochures, there are very few posted signs in the towns we passed, and the driver doesn’t usually announce each stop. (But if he had, I’m damn curious about the name of the cornfields from earlier in the trip.) Not to mention, of course, that Punta del Diablo is not listed in our trusty Lonely Planet guide. We were going there simply on the recommendation of our English friends, Rob and Caroline, who we had met in Buenos Aires and of our Argentinean friend, Victor, who we had met in La Paloma.

However, being clever folks, we did have a map of sorts from the tourist office in Montevideo and it did list Punta del Diablo. But, as I mentioned, we highly suspected Punta del Diablo wouldn’t have a sign showing it’s name when we pulled into town (and certainly nothing in flashing neon to attract our attention). So after several rounds of questions with the driver and the surrounding passengers, we determined we only had a few minutes left. Of course, it should be noted that understanding native Spanish (that was beginning to mix with Portuguese because we were closer to the border with Brazil) in a moving bus with techno music playing in the background is also not an easy task. However, after a few premature attempts to exit the bus (with the amused bus driver and passengers all telling us no), we arrived in Punta del Diablo shortly before 9am.

Although our bus had been full, we were the only people to step out onto the sand packed road that was Punta del Diablo’s main street (and the only street in the village that had a name). Much like La Paloma, the village which then surrounded us was still sleeping, save for a few pups that were trotting here and there (as always). Although we weren’t sure where we’d stay for the night (we generally don’t book our rooms ahead of time), it was still very early and there was plenty of time to figure that out. Not to mention, we could already sense that there was just something about Punta del Diablo that lent itself to going with the flow and to seeing what the day would bring. So with our packs on our backs, we found ourselves walking along the small sandy road, past the sleeping cabanas, and out to some rocks gently jutting over the ocean. And thus began our four day stay in Punta del Diablo which, as we would come to discover, was exactly the type of place both of us had pictured when we first began dreaming about our trip.

If you enjoyed this story, you might also like these ones:

Punta del Diablo: Five Anecdotes

Punta del Diablo: Five Anecdotes

Moving Very Slowly

Moving Very Slowly

Thoughts on a Rooftop...

Thoughts on a Rooftop...

Juno
March 21, 2005 at 1:20pm
Oh they have a lovely site of their town! Someone has put some work into it.

http://www.portaldeldiablo…

It looks so lovely.

Loofa
March 21, 2005 at 1:38pm
Wow, sounds great!
Shana
March 21, 2005 at 11:43pm
beautiful! i love the blurry palm tree and cow pictures. :D all of your entries on here are so excellent – they take me there, like a little magic carpet ride… totally transport me… i love it. i even love the name of punta del diablo. :)
Philsie
March 22, 2005 at 1:32pm
Good Story, the techno wasn't Homestarrunner was it lol to throw light switch raves
Terp Fan
March 22, 2005 at 5:47pm
If you can get your hands on some of that techno the bus driver was listening to I'd be in your debt forever! I LOVE techno! I just stink at figuring out who the best groups are…
daddy
March 22, 2005 at 6:16pm
hi it's just me and i have to agree with a large number of your followers both your prose and photos are simple us fanstic
Janet
March 25, 2005 at 7:07am
Call it "A fuzzy dream of cows in paradise".

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