When you look at a map of South America, you will see that Montevideo, Buenos Aires, and Punta del Este all lie on the Rio de Plata, a very wide-mouthed river between Argentina and Uruguay. The travel between these cities takes all night because the ship kind of wanders in circles in the ocean to be able to arrive in port at the appointed time. Anyway, we arrived at Punta del Este (sometimes called the St. Tropez of South America) which is a nice getaway destination for Argentinians, especially during Carnival weekend. The beaches are beautiful and many hotels have been built to cater to the tourists. It happened to be rainy on the day we came into port. Our tour guide explained that this is odd, but wonderful since the area has been in a drought. Coming from Southern California, we certainly sympathize with these people, so we continued on our tour in the rain.
There are a few very interesting sights in the area, besides the beaches. A famous sculpture called, “La Mano”, (the hand), by Chilean artist, Mario Irarrázabal is along one beach. I copied a photo from the internet because Ron’s image in the rain only shows four fingers due to the number of tourists in the way.
We saw an interesting bridge built with a distinct wave. It was pretty interesting driving over it in a fast bus. We also visited a Gaudi-inspired building on the beach by Carlos Paez Vilaro called “Casa Pueblo”.
After this city tour, we headed off to the country for lunch at a ranch called Siglio XX. It is an alpaca farm as well as a restaurant, museum and small resort. The alpacas were cute. I was surprised to read that their wool is only harvested once a year.
We were greeted as we walked up to the ranch house with an assortment of beverages and were handed a beef empanada almost before we sat down. A salad bar was set up and trays of cooked meats were brought to each table. My favorite was the sausage (beef chorizo) but I was not brave enough to eat the round, black blood sausage. Ron ate the flan with dulce de leche while I had strawberries and whipped cream.
It was a very quiet ride back to the pier since most of us napped after the wonderful meal. That night we left the port on our way to Rio de Janeiro.
Luckily, we had two sea days before we reached Rio. During those days I worked on some art projects while Ron took some more cooking classes and attended some lectures. The ladies at our dining table were very taken with the Gauchos when they visited the Pampas. I drew one for them. I had to use pictures from the internet… one of the gaucho and a different one for the horse.