Friday, February 24, 2017

Punted to the West Coast

As Phil Collins might say: “Another day in paradise”! (But without the irony.) The sun is shining and Punta del Este, this blight on the “real Uruguay” (according to our tour guide yesterday), is calling to us in its idyllic appeal. Our last run in Punta – at least on this trip – had a singe objective: to get to La Mano.

Maybe Mindy had another objective...

...thankfully we didn't have a ticket for this dog to join us in Chile!

Apparently there are a couple more of these hand sculptures throughout Chile – in the Atacama Desert and Magallanes in the south. This is the only one we’ll be seeing this time around. Sometimes, kindly passers-by aren’t well-positioned to make the most of our one and only hand interaction:

Oh, well!

We desperately wanted to spend at least a few minutes frolicking in the Atlantic surf before leaving Punta, but first was breakfast. It seems that every hotel in South America offers an extensive breakfast as part of the room rate. Having dined on breads, cheeses and fruit, we set out to find a new beach in the one direction we hadn’t yet explored from our hotel. In this peninsula of endless beaches, we managed to pick the one direction that didn’t have a beach!

We opted against the rocky outcropping and meandered around the coast to the beach. We found plenty of things to make the walk worthwhile, including a tribute to the patron saint of Punta del Este.

Then it was time for fun in the waves crashing up on the shore!

Alas, we only had a few minutes to take advantage of the beach before setting out across the continent. 

We caught a bus from Punta del Este and found ourselves at the Montevideo airport once again, excited about this next leg of the journey, but sorry to be leaving this amazing destination. We debated where we would want a home in Uruguay: the history-steeped cultural centre in Montevideo, or the beachfront paradise Punta del Este. We didn’t explore enough to require a decision, though we did manage to find an American-Uruguayan who had one foot in an Uruguayan retirement, and encouraged that we consider it further. Had we sampled more Uruguayan wine in the airport, perhaps we would be looking over a deed right now….. 

This is the only country (I am aware of) where the government incentivizes the use of credit cards by eliminating sales tax (on purchases made with credit cards). That would offset living costs nicely, come retirement time. Hopefully that’s not a short-lived policy!

Ultimately it was time to board our plane to Santiago and say farewell to the land of friendly, welcoming people – who always carry mate (even in a McDonald’s):

We also had to sit through another obligatory pesticide service inside the plane...

We landed in Santiago in the late evening and took a taxi to our hotel – a nondescript, uninspiring place. The man at reception was friendly, and the room was clean (mostly). The bed was comfortable enough, and we fell right to sleep.

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