I’d heard Punta del Diablo, a fishing town on the northeastern coast of Uruguay, was calm and wild; I’d heard it was a gathering place for millionaire faux-hippies from Buenos Aires, which is about the worst diss a Uruguayan can utter. What I found, in this off-season, was more calm and wild, with a hint of backpacker chic. It was fun to return to the world of travelers for a little while.
I stayed in a hostel that had 6 hammocks, a fire pit, and surfboards for rent. The primary supply guests lugged up the hill from the supermarket was beer. I had forgotten about the ephemeral and intense nature of sharing a bunkroom and bathroom and kitchen with strangers. I had forgotten how those strangers can become your tribe for three days, so that hugs go around when people leave. I like that. It was a nice change of pace from playing moody writer.
I remembered a few things from my last trip to South America, and learned a few more. These included:
-how to say university instead of college, so as not to confuse the Europeans;
-how to add up grocery accounts real fast;
-how to hide a mango in a fridge full of beer and three day old lettuce (wishful thinking, stick with pasta) so no one else will eat it;
-how to spot translate instructions for a German card game from English to Spanish (#UNstatus)
-how to be a good sport when a bottle of vodka falls out of the freezer and shatters onto your foot (keep a Chilean rugby medic on hand at all times)