Hello and Happy New Year to all!

I am back from an absolutely amazing vacation and although I still am stuck in summer fun mode, I fortunately have another month before school begins and the real work starts back up again.  These past couple of weeks I have been planning, hosting, and assisting with lots of fun summer camps, which explains the delay in this post. I plan on blogging all about these camps, however, in an attempt to keep things relatively “short”, I will stick to the theme of vacation for now.

December 20th I boarded a double decker bus in my pueblo of Quiindy headed for Montevideo, Uruguay. The trip was approximately 24 hours, but the good company, air conditioning, big comfortable seats, snacks (pre-packaged carbohydrate overload), and whiskey drinks made it go much faster than expected. Perhaps I’ve just gotten used to waiting around and sitting for long periods of time, but 24 hours flew by! We arrived in Montevideo where we would spend two nights and traveled to our friendly, clean hostel. It was in the perfect location. A couple minutes walk from the beach and close to lots of shops and cute restaurants. Within minutes we were heading out to see and gawk at the ocean for the first time in 10 months and to find a place where we could enjoy our first Chivito. Chivitos are Uruguay’s national sandwich. Click here to see Anthony Bourdain’s take on the wich.  DELICIOUS. Meaty, cheesy, saucy, HUGE. What else could you want? I was in love and ate a total of 4 during our 12 days in Uruguay. I will be back for another one day! I loved Montevideo, the beach wasn’t especially beautiful, but the people were kind and we had some delicious food including fresh pizza from a corner pizzeria, fresh sushi, and delicious baked corvina fish.

Montevideo

Montevideo

Bus to Uruguay

Bus to Uruguay

After two nights in Montevideo, we boarded a 3-hour bus to Punta Del Diablo, Uruguay. We arrived to our house and fell in love! Not only was it air-conditioned, filled with natural light, and clean (spider/bug free!), but it was also ON the beach. We could walk out from our porch and we were immediately surrounded with beautiful white sand. Each morning I took advantage of our proximity and made a little beach visit. Nothing like a fresh sea breeze and some ocean water to make you feel alive!  Punta del Diablo, known for being a sleepy beach town, was a very relaxing place. We quickly learned that most people there don’t eat lunch until 3, dinner is served around 12 and no one will judge you for sleeping in until 11am.

We made it to heaven! Punta del Diablo

We made it to heaven! Punta del Diablo

Kitchen

Kitchen

Our fancy bathroom

Our fancy bathroom

In South America, Christmas Eve has more importance than the actual day of Christmas. From our balcony we could see families in all of the surrounding houses barbequing with their loved ones. When midnight hit, all of the houses started lighting off fireworks for about half an hour. It was beautiful! On Christmas morning my girlfriends and I cooked up a big brunch and then started preparing for Christmas dinner. There were 8 other volunteers who were also in Punta del Diablo for Christmas, and we had all decided to meet at our house for a potluck style Christmas dinner. We ended up having a wonderful time, playing games, drinking Uruguayan cerveza, and eating our massive feast of Corvina, steak, stuffing, ceviche, macaroni and cheese, fresh baked bread, stuffed peppers, and of course cookies, pound cake and lemon bars for dessert. Although I wasn’t able to spend this Christmas with my family, being with all of the other volunteers was the next best thing and made me feel oddly at home.

Christmas morning

Christmas morning

Christmas morning

Christmas morning

Christmas dinner

Christmas dinner

Girls night out in Punta del Diablo

Girls night out in Punta del Diablo

After 5 nights in Punta del Diablo, we boarded a bus headed for Cabo Polonio National Park. We got to the terminal in the Park, but had to get on a 4×4 jeep/sand buggy contraption to get into the town center. Entering Cabo Polonio was like entering a weird hippie vortex. It is a beautiful place with no running water, all water comes from wells, no electricity, all electricity is provided by solar panels, flowey skirts, dreads, people doing yoga on the beach, small colorful beach shacks, restaurants lit by candle light, drum circles, “space brownies” on restaurant menus, and lots of people trying to get away from the everyday hustle and bustle. We knew it was different as soon as we got to our hostel where the hostel owner had only reserved 3 spots for us (even though we had transferred money five months earlier to reserve four spots) and rather than apologize he said, “ No problem! One sleep on the hammock or on the couch tonight, but tomorrow maybe two girls share a bed?” So, instead of getting upset about it, we gladly shared a twin sized bed in a cramped room for 2 nights. No discount, no apologies. This is how Cabo Polonio works. You roll with the flow. It was weird at first, especially after being in Paraguay for 10 months, but we got used to it and soon enough we were shopping through artesian stands for flowey skirts and thinking about getting beaded dreads in our hair.

4x4 to enter CP

4×4 to enter CP

Entering Cabo Polonio

Entering Cabo Polonio

Our hostel in Cabo Polonio

Our hostel in Cabo Polonio

Failed sandboarding attempt

Failed sandboarding attempt

Getting weird in Cabo Polonio

Getting weird in Cabo Polonio

View of Cabo Polonio

View of Cabo Polonio

Afternoon cocktail in CP

Afternoon cocktail in CP

Roadside hotdog

Roadside hotdog

As New Years Eve was quickly approaching we had to get to our final stop on the trip, Punta del Este. Punta del Este was the complete opposite of Cabo Polonio, but equally as wonderful. Known for being the Miami of South America, the who’s who of South America venture there for New Years each year for over the top house and club parties. We were hesitant at first because clearly our group wasn’t exactly the who’s who of anywhere, and our pockets were slowly starting to empty. Luckily we met some people in our hostel that took us under their wings and carted us around to different parts of Punta del Este. Our hostel was also fantastic! Each night the hostel bar opened up early and everyone chatted until we all went our separate ways around 2 or 3 in the morning. There were people from all over staying there. We met groups from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, New York, Atlanta, Montevideo, etc! Needless to say when January 2nd rolled around and we were packing our backpacks to head back to Paraguay, the mood was a somber one.

Punta del Este

Punta del Este

The famous fingers in Punta del Este

The famous fingers in Punta del Este

Our final dinner in Punta del Este

Our final dinner in Punta del Este

Nos veremos Punta del Este!

Nos veremos Punta del Este!

During our 12 days in Uruguay we met some amazing people, ate some delicious food, danced until the sun rose multiple times, spent hours and hours on the beach relaxing (I’m now about 4 shades darker), and had an all around magnificent sweat-free time! I would highly recommend Uruguay to anyone considering it.  I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Years also.

As great as it was, I am happy to be back in my community. I missed the hot, dirty, down-to-basics life! A new year means new projects, new resolutions, and I’m sure many more lessons and things to learn. February 9th marks my one-year in country point. Pretty crazy how fast time flies! As always I miss everyone back home and think about you guys all the time, but everyday I am thankful for my Peace Corps experience and wouldn’t change anything about it.

Back to the dirty sweaty grind :)

Back to the dirty sweaty grind 🙂

Xoxo

Bridget

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