Travelling to Uruguay

10 May

They took my scissors and cheese sandwich as I passed through customs. I’m not really sure they understand the nature of swine flu.

As with most people travelling from Buenos Aires to Uruguay, I am making a stopoff in Colonia. A beautiful World Heritage Site town; a Bob Ross interpretation of colonial Uruguay, probably not aware of it’s aesthetic kinship to Portmeirion. I could then go on to say how the place resembles ‘The Prisoner’ tv series more so than Portmeirion itself, the eerie shell of a colonial era, a town full of menacing history ala Salem, the echoes of day-to-day life ringing around the crumbling edifices. This would in fact be a load of horse shit.

There is a tendency in Colonia for travellers in their 1 day sabbatical from BA or in a passing glance on the way to Montevideo, to concoct such unnecessary ramblings. Colonia is peaceful, filled with buildings manciured to resemble a polished version of their former self. Azulejo-style ceramic signs describing each building in detail. It’s a tourist attraction. The need for people to describe this as eerie; as a fictitious handshake with days gone but, after reading the pamphlet or I swear in some cases, simply hearing the name of the town, fills me with despair.

Must every town have a hidden meaning that only the true traveller can discover? In most cases, they probably do. But after one day? Give me a break. Stay longer and you’d probably find out about far more interesting things; about illegal cockfighting, how the building of a casino in 1998 brought about many new jobs but also turned all of the men in the town into a bunch of addicts, now unable to even resist the daily ritual of a bag of M&M’s. But for God’s sake, stop giving me the stereotypes. Old equals eerie. I get it! But if you’re unable to take even a pragmatic way of looking at a town then don’t bother.

Colonia is tranquil, veering close to the pause button, and extremely sweet, maybe a little bit too much for some, but that’s it. I definately recommend making a stop. Maybe stay a bit longer if, like me, you have an unnatural propensity to sit for vast amounts of the day.

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