Catching the South American Travel Bug

When Leah and Gill asked if I would write a perspective for GoneForWords, I was thrilled to share my experience traveling with them in Argentina and Uruguay. In the past, I have been known as the type of traveler to go online and find a cheap ticket to an all-inclusive resort for a week long party and stress relief on the beach. So when Leah and Gill invited me to meet them in Buenos Aires for ten days of relaxing on the beach in Eastern Uruguay, I had no idea I was about to find myself on an outstanding adventure with new friends, new cultures and memories that will never be forgotten.

Chase soaking up all the charm of Colonia

My adventure started with a wonderful greeting from Leah at the airport in Buenos Aires, Argentina. As the plane landed, I tried to catch a glimpse of how truly huge Argentina’s capital city really is but the only area I managed to see was the outer edge of the city and some shoreline. On the fast paced cab ride from the airport to our hostel, I had the chance to see that Buenos Aires is just like any other city around the world – I saw lower class, upper class and the fast paced downtown area. I’m not usually one for the big city living but this place was amazing. One thing I can say about BA is that there is no wasted space – the downtown is full of very narrow one-way streets running in between buildings attached and cramped together.

Once I was settled, my tour guides Leah and Gill took me on a walk through the streets of San Telmo, one of Buenos Aires’ neighborhoods. We sat for a drink in a small park area surrounded by beautiful apartments for a meet and greet with my new friend and travel buddy, Gill. But after a long day and night of traveling and airplane food, I was starving for an Argentinean steak (or a steak of a lifetime as the girls called it). Coming from Alberta I thought there is no way I will eat a finer piece of meat then AAA.

I was wrong, very wrong.

After eating my meal I realized that Alberta has a lot of work to do if we want to be contenders in the meat department.

With a short but much needed sleep I found myself waking up at six the next morning to catch a ferry for Uruguay and our main destination, Punta Del Diablo. After a quick ferry ride and very long bus trek, we finally made it to the sleepy fishing village on Uruguay’s eastern coast. The relaxation and beach bum lifestyle was about to begin.

The beach, the town, the new friends, everything was perfect

The next morning the sun was shining, we could see the ocean from our deck and the temperature was quickly rising. I realized that my next six days and five nights were going to be all that I had expected. With no plans but relaxation, it was time to tan my pale white skin and try to become an Albertan surfer. Let me tell you, this is not as easy as it looks. This place is a true piece of heaven – no big touristy hotels, no Starbucks, no pollution and more people driving dune buggies, quads and dirt bikes than people driving cars. I think I said “I could retire here” over one hundred times.

Our next stop was Colonia Del Sacramento. Coming from a career in construction, I realized this city is built on many hours of hard labor. All of the roads in the Old Town area are built out of cobblestone. There were no machines other than hard working men to build these roads. My muscles started to ache just walking down the streets and thinking of all the man hours spent laying that cobblestone. After walking the streets in Uruguay I will never complain about hard work again.

It was only fitting to take a picture of a packer, considering it's where this story started

While we were in Colonia, Leah and Gill introduced me to a lovely lady named Martine. The two girls met this amazing woman on their travels in Patagonia. She had invited us over for dinner and a glass or two of wine. After traveling all over the world, Martine had chosen Colonia to be the place she called home. With only being in this eye opener of a town for three days, I realized why Martine had fallen in love with its charm.

Traveling a small piece of South America for only ten days was not long enough. Luckily, I’ll be returning to put together another piece of this picturesque puzzle in June. It is hard to be away from Leah and Gill for ten months but after a short visit I realize that they are two best friends doing something that the rest of us can only dream of doing. I feel like there is so much more to share about what I have seen with these amazing women.

I guess if I try to put my trip into perspective it reminds me of when I was a child, around grade six or seven. Waiting for my airplane to take me back to snow covered Alberta was like waiting for the yellow school bus to pick me up for my first day back to school after a two month summer vacation. Back to reality…