It's All Quiet in ColoniaJune 4 in Uruguay
It is already starting to seem a very long time since we all gathered at Tullamarine Airport on that very wet Friday afternoon. Over the past 26 days we have all shared so much together, that I am sure it will take a long time to organise the images and memories into some sort of consistent order.
After our fun time in Buenos Aires I thought that the group might appreciate something entirely different. Uruguay is a tiny nation situated in between the much larger nations of Brazil and Argentina. There are a series of ferries which regularly carry passengers across the Rio de la Plata from Buenos Aires to Colonia Del Sacramento.
Although it looks like a sea, the mighty Rio de la Plata is actually a huge freshwater river, over 50 km across. We began our day with a ride on the huge Buquebus high speed ferry. The journey took just over an hour with the ferry cruising at between 65 to 70 kph most of the time.
As we left the ferry, complete with some extra stamps in our passports, we were met in the terminal building by an eager young guide with an unpronounceable name and halting English. She ushered us to a large comfortable bus and then proceeded to take us on a tour of the small city of Colonia.
This place certainly is a complete contrast to Buenos Aires. The traffic is almost non existent, the pavements are old and crumbling and the streets are all lined with majestic plane trees. Over the centuries this tiny town has regularly changed hands between Spain and Portugal (and even Brazil) before getting its independence in 1828.
As the bus cruised the deserted streets I could not help but think that this driver had a much easier lot than the ones who had transported us in places like Lima, Cusco and Arequipa. To my surprise I did find one traffic light but I suspected that it was entirely unnecessary.
After taking us to the enormous abandoned bull ring that looked a bit like the Colosseum, our guide explained that it was only functional between 1910 and 1912. It has been a ruin ever since. Although she was stumbling over most of her words, the young guide really trying to do her best to educate us. I don't think she understood the Australian sense of humour.
We finished our bus trip at the famous Historico Barrio (the old city centre). This place was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its beautiful old cobblestoned streets and original Portuguese buildings.
I thought it was time to represent the group in asking a question. "What does the name Colonia del Sacramento" mean ?, I asked. The young girl smiled excitedly and answered "Exactly". I tried to figure out this answer,but somewhere the truth was lost in translation.
After about an hour of trying to understand the commentary, we were finally led back to the waiting bus (and its sleeping driver) and driven a few hundred metres to our hotel. When I walked to the counter of the hotel the young concierge greeted me in a distinctly Australian accent. I certainly was not expecting that. He explained that his parents were Spanish but that he was born in Australia.
After checking into my room I then spent the next few hours wandering this sleepy and very appealing little town. One feature of the place is the numerous old cars that you see here. While some are still being driven, many others have just been abandoned in the streets and allowed to become a permanent ruin in the street.
It was only after I was safely back at the hotel at around 4.30 pm that the rain finally started to fall. The timing could not have been more perfect. This is the final full day most of our group will have in South America and this is the first rain we have seen since we arrived in Lima. The weather could not possibly have been more perfect.
By this time tomorrow our group will have split into several small fragments. While most will be on their way back to Australia, Paul and I will be preparing for a whole new adventure in the north of Argentina. But that will be a whole new story.Read more