November 2022: On a trip to South America primarily to visit the Falkland Islands and Cuevo de los Tayos in Ecuador, I also flew to Buenos Aires, Argentina for a few days to visit my last South American country, Uruguay and also one of the last United Nations recognized countries that I had yet to visit in the world.

About Uruguay

The laid-back country of Uruguay, once a Spanish colony that is still Spanish speaking, is South America’s safest and richest country per capita and with its high standard of living and citizens, many having blond Germanic ancestry, you could be forgiven for thinking you were in Europe instead of South America. Uruguay is also famous for its beef and is a major beef exporter and has excelled in the area of non-renewable energy and energy independence. I saw some evidence of this on the Rio Plata with all of the wind turbines that were located miles out from shore capturing and converting wind energy to electricity. The country also has a reputation for being the least corrupt. It’s previous president, an ex-revolutionary, was very proud of his humble lifestyle and refused accept much from the government. He claimed an only asset of an old 1000 USD Volkswagen bug, refused to live in the presidential mansion instead living in his meager apartment and donated most of his salary.

Location of Colonia de Sacramento, Uruguay

Day 1: To get to Uruguay from Buenos Aires, Argentina I took a taxi from the Buenos Aires airport to the ferry boat port upon arriving from Santiago, Chile. Once at the ferry boat port, I had to go through the long and tiresome immigration process to depart Argentina and enter Uruguay as well as deal with throngs of passengers, but the ferry boat experience was an enjoyable one. The boat took approximately 1.5 hours to cross the Rio Plata, although named a river, it is actually a part of the Atlantic Ocean where the major rivers of the region, Parana/Paraguay and Uruguay rivers flow into depositing all of their mud and sediment leaving the water of this area brown and muddy in appearance.  The crossing in a thunderstorm was rough and rocky but the soothing sway of the waves, even though some were rather large, lulled me to sleep during the crossing.

One of the ferry boats that makes the crossing between Argentina and Uruguay everyday

View of the rough seas of the Rio de la Plata from my ferry to Coloni de Sacramento 

Colonia de Sacramento 

The colonial town of Colonia de Sacramento was founded in the 1600s and because of its strategic importance along the River Plata has traded hands between the Spanish and Portuguese many times in war. As a result, the small, charming town possesses an architectural mix of Portuguese and Spanish styles. The town with its well-preserved quiet atmosphere is a popular weekend get-away for Argentines and Uruguayans alike. Most of the passengers on my ferry I discovered were Uruguayan’s returning from Argentina for the weekend to their homes in Uruguay.

I arrived in Colonia in the rain and dark, and I was feeling under the weather. But I didn’t want to let this spoil my time in Colonia and what I will always do when I arrive in a new place, explore by foot at night. When the ferry arrived at Colonia, the mad exodus of passengers ensured and all I could do was throw myself into the tsunami of bodies and try and claw my way to the exit. When I did finally emerge from the boat, I expected all of the taxis to be taken leaving me to walk the mile or so to my guesthouse in the rain but magically there was one taxi waiting out front and I was able to grab it for a low 4 USD. The taxi driver thanked me when I gave him a 5$ bill and old him to keep the change.  My guesthouse, an old governor’s residence from the 1800’s was much nicer than I anticipated. It was located on a sleepy street next to a square and an old church and the home was small quaint and perfectly preserved but not overly remodeled so that it still maintained its old charms.

My room in the Governor’s Residence

A sweet elderly lady checked me to the Governor’s residence, and I struggled with my Spanish in Uruguay with the different accent that I wasn’t used to. I dropped off my bags in my room and immediately set out to explore on foot despite the cold sprinkling rain outside. it didn’t take long for me to determine that I loved Colonia, but I was sad that my wife wasn’t with me to share the experience. She had just returned home for work and after traveling with me in the Falkland Islands she sadly wasn’t able to be with me on this part of the trip.

I was afraid that by 10pm it would be too late to grab dinner but then I remembered where I was and that people in Argentina and Uruguay tend to eat late and when I found a restaurant around the corner from my guesthouse it was bustling with life and activity. One table over from me was exceptionally entertaining. A group of elderly women and one elderly man appeared to be celebrating the man’s birthday and they boisterously shared multiple toasts that involved song. I had some local red wine and fish and returned to my room for a much-needed night rest since I had traveled most of the previous night with little sleep from the Falkland Islands.

Day 2: Despite my promise to myself to sleep in, I lied and woke up early the moment I heard songbirds outside and I was off at 6am to explore Colonia on foot. I never let a good morning go to waste when exploring a new place. I walked the lonely cobblestone streets of the colonial era town photographing its charming alleyways and old buildings.

Lobby of the Governor’s Residence

Old church outside my bedroom window

Magical old chapel I walked into and had to myself with a pale beam of sunlight while angelic church music played somewhere in the background

Sprint Flowers

Banks of the Rio Plata River

Colonial Era Fortified Walls to protect the City

The city is famous for its variety of old wooden doors

Old cobblestone streets

Day 2: During the afternoon of my 2nd day in Uruguay, I set off by ferry on my return voyage to Buenos Aires, where I spent one night in Palermo District before flying to Ecuador to meet my brother and friends to do an expedition into Cuevo de los Tayos cave. 

Lighthouse from 1800’s I saw from my ferry as I departed back to Buenos Aries, Argentina 

Feeling under the weather, I later discovered my wife had Covid, which I likely did too, I didn’t do much in Buenos Aires. The highlight of my trip in Buenos Aires was the terrifying taxi driver I hired at the ferry port to take me to my hotel. The taxi driver sped the busy streets of the city, trying to run down every pedestrian and speed passed every red light with one near death experience after another culminating in him nearly t-boning a vehicle that drove in front of us and him having to slam on the brakes sending me lurching into the passenger seat in front of me. After almost killing us, my taxi driver didn’t flinch and continued speeding onwards and let me out in the middle of a busy street in front of my hotel. I didn’t care and was just happy to be free.

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