A much needed vacation

The trip to Salto was a lot of fun!

I traveled with five other students from my university, four Americans and one from England. We left Montevideo at midnight on Friday and rode in a very comfortable bus for six hours to Salto. I did manage to sleep for a few hours, but whenever I woke up I would look out the window. We drove basically through the countryside where there are very, very few lights, so at night the sky was filled with stars – probably the most stars I have ever seen in the sky. We arrived in Salto around 6am on Friday, took a taxi to our hotel, and slept for a few more hours.

After some much needed rest, we explored Salto. The city is along a river across from Argentina, so we got to gaze over the water to Argentina.

Hola, Argentina!

Hola, Argentina!

Plaza Roosevelt

Plaza Roosevelt

Salto is the second largest city in Uruguay, but it only has about 100,000 inhabitants, and it’s also said to be a very touristy city. It certainly is very different from Montevideo – not because it’s smaller – but the lifestyle just seemed a lot more relaxed. There are a lot less cars, the streets are generally have only one lane and are one-way, and the air seemed a lot cleaner. A very pleasant city!

It was a really nice day, so after some exploring we took a bus over to the termas. From what I read, many, many years ago some people tried drilling for oil in this region, and instead of finding oil, they ran into some hot springs. Nowadays, the city of Salto fills pools with water from these springs to create the termas.

Termas - pools with hot spring water, kind of like a giant hot tub

Termas – pools with hot spring water, kind of like a giant hot tub

Since it was a beautiful day out, we also got to lay out in the sun – wait, sunbathing in the winter? Apparently you can do that in Uruguay!

We all were still pretty exhausted and running on very little sleep, plus spending the day in the sun and relaxing in the termas, so after dinner at a nearby pizzaria we all checked out for the evening.

On Saturday, after a hearty breakfast of bread, we went to go see the Represa de Salto Grande (“represa” means “dam”). The dam is built along the river between Uruguay and Argentina, and it provides 60-70% of the energy to all of Uruguay and about 7-8% to Argentina. We got to tour the dam and took a tour bus alongside it, and we even drove in to Argentina for about two and a half minutes, so I can say I have been in Argentina.

Represa ("dam") de Salto Grande

Represa (“dam”) de Salto Grande

Inside the represa

Inside the represa

After, we went and saw a lake, which is basically the river before it goes through the dam, but Uruguayans refer to it as a lake.

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Since we were on vacation, of course we wanted to relax, so we went to a parque acuático (“water park”) complete with a wave pool, slides, and more termas. We enjoyed it much more than the termas from the day before and managed to spend five hours there relaxing and laying in the sun again, since it was about eighty degrees out that day.

The wave pool - when I said "water park", I hope you didn't think of something like Wild Waves - no way!

The wave pool – when I said “water park”, I hope you didn’t think of something like Wild Waves – no way!

After another relaxing day in the water, we headed back in to Salto for dinner. We happened to come across a buffet, so of course, this was the perfect place to have dinner. For $15, we got unlimited food which included traditional Uruguayan dishes, a salad bar, the parrilla (which, if you remember, is meat from the grill – parrilla by itself would typically cost no less than $15 at a restaurant, but here it was included!), and a dessert bar. Needless to say, each one of us made several trips to get food and accumulated quite a few plates. However, we noticed that the Uruguayans who came to the buffet did not get nearly as much food as we did, and we’re not sure if the idea of a buffet in Uruguay really is to eat as much food as you can, or if it means something completely different. Regardless, we all left completely stuffed but very satisfied.

Sunday was our last afternoon in Salto. Our bus was scheduled to leave at 1pm, so we decided to take our stuff and walk over to a nearby plaza that was in the direction of the bus station.

Plaza Artigas - José Artigas is considered to be Uruguay's national hero

Plaza Artigas – José Artigas is considered to be Uruguay’s national hero

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It was finally time to leave Salto, so we started our six hour bus ride back to Montevideo, in which I somehow managed to sleep through four hours of it. When I was awake, I would look out the window – imagine land that is flat, grassy, and filled with cows, and you have the countryside of Uruguay.

Unfortunately, after a very fun vacation, it was time to head back to class, however, for one of my classes we went to the Museo del Gaucho (“Museum of the Gaucho”). If you are not sure what a gaucho is, the closest thing I can think to compare it to is a cowboy that lives on the plains with his horse. The museum was pretty neat, and at one point our tour guide showed us the traditional clothing of the gaucho, and proceeded to dress up one of the guys from my class. When it came time to demonstrate to traditional clothing of a paisana (the wife of a gaucho, basically), my professor volunteered me and I guarantee it was because my hair happened to be in a braid today. Anyway, I got to dress up as a paisana!

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It has been a very busy past few days! I can’t believe it is already September. Time sure is flying.

Chao for now!

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1 Response to A much needed vacation

  1. Linda Perez says:

    EVERYTHING was totally awesome! Felt like I was there. Love you.

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