Our first night in Uruguay! Country #4 on our trip, a long way from João Pessoa. Actually, Punta del Diablo feels a long way from anywhere, but that didn’t put us off one bit. Once a small fishing village, it’s now a highly prized summer tourist destination. During the winter, it’s somewhere to come and take things really slowly, enjoy some wine, walk on the beach, and play with the dogs.
We arrived up a day earlier than planned, after Chuy turned out to be a boring shithole. We’d been promised a place to stay by a family friend from Porto Alegre but WiFi was a bit thin on the ground as we tried to get in touch. What to do? Try a hostel?
We didn’t sleep one night at Diablo Tranquilo, but we can unquestionably give it a 5-star review. We turned up as lost tourists, just desperate for a bit of WiFi. But we were welcomed as friends, and ended up spending several nights at the bar. We ate incredible Uruguayan asado (charcoal barbecue) and met some fantastic fellow travellers.
Jerry, the “senior backpacker”, is travelling South America, and has already visited Antarctica, he’s in his 70s. He recently got a tattoo to celebrate his crossing of the equator, the international date line, and the Arctic and Antarctic circles. Some man he is. The hostel manager, Mike, is spending a year in Uruguay (Immigration people don’t seem to mind how long you stay) as a more relaxing location. La Paz, in Bolivia, was just too intense for him. Nina, a German student who was also working there, has some family in Ceará, way up the northeast of Brazil. Together with all the hostel’s guests and staff, we celebrated her 21st birthday with that huge barbecue. Great times.
Although the hostel was indeed amazing, we actually did end up staying at the apartment we’d been so kindly offered by Helena. It’s not every day we have a whole house just to ourselves! While staying in a hostel can be, and usually is, great – it can be a bit tiring constantly doing the same introductions, over and over again. Nobody would begrudge us a lie in for a couple of days, right? When we arrived, Hector, the caretaker, met us and got us set up for the next few days. He and his wife look after the small block of beachside apartments there. Anything we needed was always right there – Need more firewood? Why yes, thanks very much.
The ocean and miles of beach in front of us, and a cat to play with. Every morning we woke up with the aroma of firewood downstairs, and every evening we weren’t at the hostel, we enjoyed the most comfortable sofa with a roaring fire, several glasses of cheap wine, and a tasty home cooked dinner. After so much jumping from place to place, it was great to have a warm, clean, tidy place to ourselves for a few days.
We had a bit of trouble with the Uruguayan Peso, as we hadn’t bothered to exchange any Real before leaving Brazil. We managed to just about work it out with Euro and Real exchanged at the hostel, with Hector, and at the supermarket (where we received some of our change in sweets!). Our credit cards were accepted in the supermarket, which stocked some 1.5L bottles of Tannat, a domestic wine. Highly recommended.
Down the coast, about an hour away, is the even more chilled out resort/national park of Cabo Polonio. It doesn’t even have electricity, in many buildings. We’d planned to visit there straight after Punta del Diablo, but in the end we liked it so much here we stayed another two nights. We were just too comfortable!
There’s more to do nearby, like the fortress of Santa Teresa a few miles up the coast, but we couldn’t be bothered. Sure there are plenty more forts in the world, but there’s only one Punta del Diablo.
Next stop: The terrifying heights of Cerro Catedral, Uruguay’s highest “peak”.
- Dinner & several drinks at Diablo Tranquilo Hostel: €12 / UYU 382 / R$ 45 each
- Beers at Diablo Tranquilo: €1.60 / UYU 50 / R$ 6 per 600ml bottle
- Pizza at “El Barzon” near the seafront: €8 / R$ 30 each