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So, the “doing nothing” is going well.

These two weeks were intended to be total switch-off relaxation and, while we are not quite such slugs that we spend all day sleeping, we are taking things nice and slow and enjoying the self-indulgence of having that option.

Beyond basic foraging for our survival (at the local supermarket) we have tried to get out on a regular basis, mostly taking walks along the beaches.

There is really not a lot to the town. As far as I can tell, it is centred behind the fishing beach, but most of the buildings are seasonal-use only. I don’t know what the resident population is, but I’m guessing not more than a hundred or two. There are a few fishing boats which are still used commercially, but most of the town is setup for the summer tourists, so is closed/for rent at the moment.

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The weather is mostly sunny and warm

Torrential thunderstorm in Punta del Diablo

Torrential thunderstorm in Punta del Diablo

The weather isn’t quite as pleasant as we’d hoped; it’s a cool October compared to the average and we’ve had a couple of days with rain and thunder. Mostly though the days are warm and sunny and it’s only the evenings which are cool. The fireplace in our room is getting a lot of action as a result; we spend most evenings in front of a small log fire, watching an episode of one of the various TV shows we have on file.

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The monument “De Artigas a Bolivar”

At the start of last week, I took an afternoon stroll along the beaches with my camera and came across a couple of the local fishing boats being unloaded. There’s also a small monument on a rocky point at the end of the fisherman’s beach, commemorating one of the Uruguayan founding fathers, José Gervasio Artigas, which was just asking to be photographed too.

Last Wednesday, we rented bikes from the hostel and rode along to the nearby Santa Teresa National Park. It was a longer ride than it looked on the map – or maybe it just felt longer, as Brett and I are both quite out of condition for cycling. Anyway, we made it there and back and I found the park more varied than I’d expected.

The Invernáculo (Hothouse)

The Invernáculo (Hothouse) in Santa Teresa National Park

It is a combination of well curated grounds with areas which seem to have been left entirely wild, but with walkways and refuges built for the tourists to pass through without interfering with the habitat. There’s also a camping area and a spot described on the map as an aviary (pajarero) but in practice has been extended into something between a reserve and a petting zoo, where animals moved freely between public and fenced-off areas.

While there were peacocks around the grounds and parrots, rabbits and a few baboons in the enclosures, there were also species that I had to look up later to identify. As well as the Capybara that everyone seems to have mentioned to us, there were peccaries (small, quite hairy, pig relatives) roaming the grounds, several Rhea; an endangered South American relative of the ostrich and emu, and species of chicken and duck that I didn’t recognise.

A capybara sunning itself in the Refugio Silvestre

A capybara sunning itself in the Refugio Silvestre, Santa Teresa

There is a fort in the park which I had wanted to see, but almost as soon as we arrived in the area a fog started rolling in from the sea and by the time we got up to the fort, the visibility was quite limited. Given we were a bit sore from the riding we decided we’d wait for better viewing conditions and come back another day.

Back at the ranch, in between outings, there’s also a fair amount of reading going on. Brett has been deep in his coding references and podcasts. I’m getting on with, “The Edge of the World: How the North Sea made us who we are,” a look at what was going on in Northern Europe during what we know as the Dark Ages. (Quite a lot of note, it turns out!) I’m also working through an online photography course which, while it’s covering a lot of stuff I already know, has some good tips and is helping me rediscover my picture-taking mojo.

Alongside that, I’ve been looking ahead and starting to plan our time in Argentina. We are now booked overnight in Colonia del Sacramento (a picturesque port town on the Uruguayan coast) and then on an evening boat across the Rio de la Plata the next day. We have an apartment in Buenos Aires’ Palermo district, which is described as a bit bohemian (and the hub of Argentina’s tech startups) and that will be our base for several weeks of exploring the Argentinian capital. Expect lots of Evita references…

Sunrise over Punta del Diablo

Sunrise over the ocean, Punta del Diablo