April 21, 2006
It was nice and sunny today, so I decided to go to Punta del Este as planned. My day started off really nicely when I was on a city bus on my way to the bus station in Montevideo. A guy got on the bus with a guitar. There's nothing unusual about that in itself, I guess. In fact, it's hard to ride on a city bus for more than two minutes without somebody trying to sell you something. However, this guy played really well and I actually enjoyed his music. After two songs, he paid his fare with the money he collected from the people on the bus and got off. It's an interesting way to go about life: Play music to make enough money for whatever it is that you need at the time, then carry the guitar around with you until you need money again.
After an inconsequential bus ride out of town, I arrived in Punta del Este. I decided that I wanted to see the beach that the upper class of Uruguay and Argentina vacations in. The center of town was somewhat windy, but as I got closer to the beach, the wind began picking up. When I was almost there, I got hit in the face with flying sand. I could barely even walk close enough to see the shore there was so much debris flying around. The water was really rough and not one sole was brave enough to attempt swimming. I questioned why anyone would ever want to go to such a place. Of course it's fall here, so maybe the weather is more pleasant during the summer.
I got some tourism information at the beach, but everything was shutting down soon. All I had time to do was take another city bus to see "The Hand," a permanent art exhibit in part of the beach of a hand reaching up through the sand. It is probably the most famous landmark in all of Uruguay, and I was impressed by the simple-yet-unique concept of it.
Later in the night, I took a bus back to Montevideo. I'm definitely ready to get out of Uruguay now. Maybe it's because I'm traveling alone, but Montevideo seems dangerous to me. There's a lot more beggars in the streets here than in Argentina, and they are much more aggressive than any I've ever encountered. For example, on the way to a bus stop tonight, three teenagers asked me for a cigarette. I told them that I don't smoke, and they moved on. But two minutes later they returned demanding that I give them money. I told them no, but they persisted. It took about ten stern "no's" to get them to leave me alone. I happily paid the guy with the guitar this morning because he entertained me, but I'll never willingly pay people like the ones I encountered tonight. What have they done to earn my money?
The photo album for this entry is here.