October 29

I've got bus tickets in hand, three different companies for the three legs of the journey. It was easy to get the tickets since all the bus companies, there were at least ten, are lined up for your browsing convenience, like rent-a-cars at the airport.

Montevideo-Trinidad-Paysandú-Colonia and then I'll catch the ferry back to Buenos Aires.
Driving along, a snap out the bus window, I'm struck with how tidy Uruguay seems.
Another one.
In the distance you can see that clump of trees which is an indication that a house is snuggled in there.
Walter picked me up at the bus station in Trinidad and we drove the half-hour out to the estancia, that's her down the road...
...La Amorosa.
It's a relatively modest building with several rooms for guests...
...where I'm greeted by a table full of food (steak Milanese, potato salad, green salad, carrot salad) and where I am the only guest for my two nights here. It's off-season and they are usually booked only on the weekends.
I decided to take a walk down this road. I walked for a while until a small rise appeared.

I decided to walk to the top of the rise and look around and what was there...another long road and another small rise.
There were tons of sheep around and babies galore. It's shearing season and Pablo told me it would all be finished in ten days and the wool would be on its way to China.
Tons of cows too, and babies.
And cowboys out, moving the herds and doing I don't know what. You'll see a better picture of the hat later.
Bushes of these small flowers dot the landscape.
Uh oh, the clouds are thickening. It only got worse as the night wore on. No stars for me. Bummer.
October 30

Good morning Marialena, who cooks and cleans and keeps the telenovelas running on the tv.

She is here in full mate mode, thermos tucked under her arm and the cup in the same hand. Most of the men and half the women remain in this pose even on the street. They have given up half their upper body to mate.
It's horseback riding day. I was a little concerned wondering if I was too old and too fat to roam off into the fields, but No! I had a wonderful time mostly thanks to this perfectly behaved and perfectly gaited horse.

And no helmets and no boots with fancy heels or proper pants, no, just get on the horse and ride away.
Here's Pablo and the gaucho saddle I would like to have tried.
Here he is again because he is that cute. Check out the hat too, it's the type worn by everyone in the campos.
Four dogs ran with us the entire way, two border collies one of them with three legs, and two mixed breeds. We forded a river twice and they just swam across like it was a normal day, as it was actually.

I didn't bring my camera on the ride so no pictures of how swell it all was.
I never got straight which of the herds of sheep, cows, and horses belonged to whom, but these guys were definitely part of family life at the estancia.
And then the skies darkened, the clouds opened with thunder and lightening storming upon us, and there was no more going out for me. I stayed in by the fire, watching telenovelas, there's no internet btw, and doing puzzles on my phone. It was lovely.

Too bad about the stars though. It would have been dazzling.
October 31, Morning

There is a nature reserve outside the town of Trinidad and I stopped by for a little while before catching the bus to Paysandú.
A playground made of wood and chains, and oil barrels.
I was there at feeding time and the attendants were going around dumping buckets of food in the various enclosures.
I was re-reminded, something I think of every time I see animals being fed, it shouldn't be so easy. Places that keep animals could figure out how to feed them in a more interesting, more time consuming, and more stimulating way for the animal. It seems anyway.
Walter, who picked me up at the bus station and drove me back.
Trinidad is the capitol city of the district of Flores and with a population a little over 20,000 it is the largest town by far in this ranching and farming area.
I went in here because it was a government building and the door was open, but no people were around except one man at a reception desk. I asked if it was a work day and he said they were closed from 11-2.

Then I tried to find a place to eat and everywhere was closed 11-2. I guess everyone goes home. So I searched up the biggest hotel in this little town and sure enough they had an open restaurant.
I told myself I would not be able to eat one more serving of ham and cheese. Ham and cheese is the only protean on every breakfast buffet. Ham and cheese empanadas are the most common. Ham and cheese sandwiches don't get soggy. Sooo much ham and cheese.

And then this came as a pre-meal offering, nice crispy fried potato balls in a tangy cheese sauce with slivers of ham. Ok, one more ham and cheese.
October 31, Evening

I arrived in Paysandú toward early evening, this is the late sun on the face of the Basilica.
This painting is inside the high dome in the back of the church lit by a skylight, at just this moment.

And much to my surprise the whole town was mad for...
...Halloween! The entire main drag was a sea of Trick or Treaters going from shop to shop.

I learned from the folks at the hotel that this is a very new thing, maybe only two or three years, and they don't go to houses, only to the businesses on this particular street.
It was so charming and so CoCo all over.

That family in the middle are especially cute, she carrying the three bike helmets and he cradling his mate as is required.
Day of the Dead is November 2 and I'm curious to see what happens then, although I'll be in a different town.
November 1

I have the day to wander around Paysandú and I became a big fan.

It's not at all touristica except for the hot springs that dot the area many miles from the town.

What they do have is a brewery, a sugar facility, a producer of world-class woolen fabrics, and Paysandú has a plantation forest industry with many companies involved in the planting and harvesting of Eucalyptus, complements of wiki.
I walked down to the docks but couldn't get in and I didn't try too hard because it didn't look particularly appealing, but this guy was yelling my name.
I was sure this was abandoned and was curious about the fresher looking windows on the top floor and that's because...
...this was up there. Wow, what a surprise. A group of children were gathering for what looked like a swim team training.
And see the ramp leading into the muddy Uruguay river, that is in service of a rowing club. I got to admire their huge collection of racing boats.

There was also a gym with fitness equipment.
I think this tells a story of immigration.
In the plaza in front of the Basilica they're setting up for a weekend flower festival timed to coincide with Dia de los Muertos.
I'm going to be on the bus for most of Dia de los Muertos, which is tomorrow, but as soon as I get to my destination I'm going to search up a cemetery.
November 2

After the longest bus ride of this journey I arrived in Colonia del Sacramento, the port town on Río de la Plata, facing Buenos Aires, and home to an historic quarter, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


This is interesting, who ran/runs Colonia del Sacramento:

1680 1680 Portugal, conquered by José de Garro
1680 1681 Spain, Provisional Treaty of Lisbon
1681 1705 Portugal, conquered in the War of Spanish Succession
1705 1713 Spain, Treaty of Utrecht
1714 1762 Portugal, First Cevallos expedition
1762 1763 Spain, Treaty of Paris
1763 1777 Portugal, Second Cevallos expedition
1777 1811 Spain, Revolt led by José Gervasio Artigas (there's our Artigas)
1811 1817 Portugal, conquest
1817 1822 Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil, and the Algarves
1822 1828 Brazil, Cisplatine War
1828 present Uruguay
It's Dia de Muertos (and equally called Dia de los Muertos and I cannot figure out which is right, probably both) and as soon as I got to my place I asked around for where I could see celebrations, and they directed me here.

You can see some people cleaning off the graves and every location was flowered. It was late in the day so most of the offerings would already be in place.
Some more freshly decorated than others.
Many of the flowers were plastic but all the people I saw were delivering live flowers.
This was unusual, simple and live.
But no shrines, no picnics, no costumes, just regular people delivering flowers. It wasn't like the movies at all. I think I just got unlucky.
It seemed like a couple of city blocks dedicated to these vaults with flowers in every one.
Then I stopped off in a grocery store to pick up a few simple things and was taken with this wall of Yerba Mate.
November 3

The main plaza of Colonia del Sacramento, UNESCO World Heritage site...
...and a shop employee taking a mate break. Like I've said before I could have a thousand of these photos. I did one more and that's it.
Notice the sketch of the buildings in the distance. I talked to this woman for a while, she was from Argentina and spoke so slowly and chose her words carefully, I thanked her very much because I could understand!

She and her friend were with a group of 90 artists, architects, teachers, etc. who travel a couple of times a year to various destinations to make pictures. You'll see more of them later.

Note in the middle ground you can see a series of ruins, only a foot high, and others are around too.

There's an ancient city wall...
...and refurbished historic buildings.
These tiles were in various places, hard to imagine they'd last hundreds of years, and now they're covered by plexiglass.
Here are six more of the ninety artists who had settled themselves around town.
It was still possible to find a quiet place. That's Buenos Aires just over the horizon.
I climbed up there. It wasn't really that high.
I didn't get any nice, or even instructive, pictures from the lighthouse (except I like the one of the basilica) and neither did the internet because I couldn't find even one to take, so here's a map of the colonial old town. The locations in red are my hotel, the basilica, and the lighthouse.

The population in Colonia is a few thousand more than that of Trinidad, small, but it appears much bigger because of all the visitors.
The basilica from the lighthouse.
And my last mate picture in Uruguay.
I spent the day in trail shoes, no flips for this town.
Calle de los Suspiros, The Street of Sighs. These houses were built 250-300 years ago and are maintained to UNESCO standards.
There were a ton of luxury restaurants, luxury determined by the price, and I decided to be with the fancy people this afternoon, for fun, and it was, it was indeed fancy and extremely delicious and fun.
One of the views.
All the streets I saw outside the old town looked like this. I didn't get out to the more modern part of the city.
A farewell shot of the basilica. I'm glad to have been here!
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