Days 113 to 115
Day 113 (17th March) Montevideo to Punta del Este
We negotiated our way out of Montevideo and headed eastwards along the coast on Ruta 1 to Punta del Este, about 100 miles away. Punta del Este is an upmarket coastal resort which is very popular as a holiday destination for the rich and famous from Argentina and Uruguay. Huge, stylish apartment blocks and hotels lined the road into the town and we noticed that a round of the Formula E Prix was taking part here today.
We stopped off at the harbour area which had many expensive restaurants along the seafront – not really our sort of place, especially when we checked the price of a beer and saw it was equivalent to £7 each! We decided to move on a few miles to a spot where we’d seen a campsite on i-overlander, which suited us much better. We were diverted off the main coastal road because of the Formula E race, but found our way there with no problem.
The campsite was situated in an attractive pine forest and had good facilities. Now being out of the high season (January and February), it was largely empty. We pitched the tent with some slight concern regarding the weather forecast since an electrical storm was predicted for that evening.
Day 114 (18th March) In Punta del Este
Unfortunately, the weather forecast was extremely accurate as the storm lasted all night and today until around 8pm, when the rain finally eased up. We have never before experienced a storm such as this one, with constant, uninterrupted thunder and lightning. The campsite was at one point completely flooded, with rivers of water running around our tent, but luckily we remained dry in our tent and looked forward to the sunny day predicted for tomorrow.
Day 115 (19th March) In Punte del Este
We woke up to a morning of mixed cloud and blue sky, but a full sun appeared by late morning which gave us a chance to dry some things which we’d forgotten to take off the bike and had consequently got a bit damp from yesterday’s rain.
After lunch, we walked down to the beach and enjoyed looking at the houses on the quiet residential roads leading there. The houses were similar to many English styles, including a number of thatched houses – the first we’ve seen in South America. Most of them appeared to be holiday homes and were all well-maintained with large, well-tended gardens. The whole area seemed very exclusive and a contrast to the majority places we have seen.
The beach extended as far as the eye could see, with the high-rise buildings of Punta del Este on the horizon. We found a sheltered spot to sit amongst the sand dunes, out of the wind, and were the only people on this part of the beach.
The highlight of the day for Mark was spotting his favourite car, a Citroen Mehari which was probably 30 years old, but had stood the test of time, and was still in fairly good condition for its age.
Tomorrow we will head further northeast to Punta del Diablo, another coastal resort which is, apparently, far more low-key than Punta del Este.