Archives for posts with tag: Uruguay

I went to Uruguay (yet again) last weekend.  It wasn’t a trip for pleasure, one more of necessity due to my still pending visa situation. I decided since I couldn’t convince anyone else to go with me that I’d make it a quick trip and not waste my day there. Just go drink what would end up being the most expensive cup of coffee of my life (the trip cost me about $80US) and come right back.  I booked the ticket on Buquebus, a more reputable boat company than the one I had traveled with before, hoping that I might avoid some of the trauma I had experienced the last time I went.  It had been a ride filled with men, women, and children, all either vomiting or holding cotton pads of alcohol to their noses to calm nausea as we passed through some rough waters, followed by us hitting something in the water at full force and half of the boat being asked to move to the other side to avoid us from sinking I presumed. no formal announcement was made that we were in danger and people took it upon themselves to put on their life vests, but when we arrived two hours late to a crew of about 10 people helping us all off the boat I knew something had happened. Read the rest of this entry »

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Quaint Colonia, but not enough lure

Traveling to Uruguay over the weekend, it occurred to me that judging a new place after a one or two day visit is just like how a job interviewer forms their opinion of a candidate.  It´s a snap judgment that is all too often a big generalization or misperception.  I´ve been on far too many interviews to know that it´s true that an interviewer forms their opinion of you within the first five minutes, often even before you have had a chance to show your stuff.  But think about how many times we thought an interviewer has been completely wrong about us?  Spending mere hours in a new city can cause this same kind of judgement error.

Ambitious and what I would dare say inexperienced travelers do this all the time, with trips around Europe that pack in six countries in just 10 days. But I can’t help but think that this is an unfair way to travel.  To me it’s like traveling the world in five-star hotels.  You can’t possibly think that you have had any sort of authentic experience and in both cases you really haven´t even begun to scratch the surface on the true character of a place and what defines it. Yet people form their opinions and report back to friends back home, and so the rumors fly.  This is one of the big reasons why I will listen to what people have to say about a travel destination, but in no way will I let it affect my decision or impression of a place before I actually go there myself.  The saying ¨to each their own¨ especially applies when talking about travel.

The week before my trip I hadn´t been able to make up my mind about my plan, last minute indecisiveness being a bad habit of mine. The real underlying reason for the trip was my need to leave Argentina to renew my 90-day tourist visa, which gave me a tiny taste of what it must be like to have immigration issues in a foreign country.  So it wasn’t exactly a trip of choice.  Regardless, I always look for unique opportunities to photograph and it’s much easier to do it alone, so I decided I would make it an adventure of my camera and me.

I started out thinking I would ask my Argentine coworkers call the ferry company to book my ticket.  Then I realized how silly that was given my level of Spanish and decided to do it myself, despite the long list of questions I had.  I felt a great sense of satisfaction when I hung up the phone, the agent never even asking me once to repeat anything or switching into English once they heard my accent.  So what if she misheard my pronunciation, and booked my ticket under “FWITZER.”  I had understood all the details for my voyage in Spanish, with the added embarrassment and pressure of my listening coworkers, and that was enough for me to feel good. Traveling alone can fulfill you and give you a sense of pleasure that traveling with even one other person can’t.  And unless you have tried it, you won’t understand what I mean.

The boat ride to Colonia was not the best way to start a trip, especially at 7am.  I have never been sea, car, airplane sick in my life but was ready to lose my breakfast within the first 15 minutes of some really choppy waters. Colonia was much how I expected it to be.  Small and very touristy, there wasn´t a lot that interested me.  I had decided that all the photographing I wanted to do would probably only take half a day, if that.  Despite being a Manhattanite, I honestly do enjoy getting away to a tranquil slower-paced places, like the amazing trip I took to Perugia while studying abroad in Milan.  But Colonia didn´t seem to have enough of any one thing for me.  I realize now had I rented a moped it might have made things a bit more fun, but for my interests it wouldn´t have changed how photographic it was.  So I tacked on Montevideo to my journey hoping to make the trip worth my while.  It ended up being a lot of traveling for not a lot of shots on my memory card and I grew tired from the heat and lugging around my backpack.

Uruguay is one of the most expensive countries in South America.  I learned this first hand from the more than double price of my accomodations vs. Buenos Aires, the three short phone calls in Colonia that cost me 20 pesos (US$5), and the 40 pesos (US$10) I spent on four sodas throughout the day.  How countries where income can be as low as $200 per month can charge more than US$2 for a can of Coke in a restaurantA, baffles me.

It also occurred to me this past weekend how many of the skills needed when traveling alone that I had forgotten.

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