QuickPeek: Flat. Sun. Cow. Horses. Reciprocity.
The bus was pretty comfy and it was a great idea to have done the longer route to Chui as I managed to sleep in and there was no hurry to get out. The bus passed thro the Brazil Immigration and dropped me off at the border. I rode into the town of Chui and got a coffee to energise the day. It was a pretty lousy coffee for 5 Reals, Dang! Anyway, I got on the road and made a brief stop at the Uruguay Immigration. It was pretty quiet and after going thro the paperwork and confirming 90 days (for such a small country, duh), I got back on the road.
It was a pretty morning, beautiful sunshine, cool breeze and spring flowers popping by everywhere. The meadows were yellow and there were poppies by the side of the road. The road was flat (absolutely flat) and narrow, but there wasn’t much traffic and was a lovely ride. There was not much services around and I came upon the first gas station in a small town after 20 kms. I decided to change my reals to pesos (got stiffed a bit) and stopped for a cup of coffee and a bite to eat. I wasn’t sure of my plan for the day. I had heard of a camp site at the Santa Teresa national park and thought it would be a nice place to try to stay at. At the same time, about 15 k’s down the road, I had a potential warmshowers host and if they came thro, I might head there. About 50 k’s further down, I had a hello cyclist who wanted to catch up and ride together. So my plans were pretty open. I decided to stock up on food just in case I didn’t have any options.
The place didn’t have any decent food, bummer. I had heard this about Uruguay, but it was stunning to see that indeed there was not much options to eat, and even worse for vegetarian. Luckily I found a small market were they had a few veggie pies and I ate one with a bit of coffee. I got some veggies, and headed towards Santa Teresa.
Turned out that the Fort at Santa teresa was an active Military base and the campsite behind was managed by the military too. The guard informed me that camping was 150 Pesos (about 5 USD) and I figured I might check it out before deciding to stay. I rode around the park and the fort and checked out the camp site. It was a sizeable site inside an eucalyptus grove with tons of parrots screaming their lungs out. There were numerous tents in the place and though it was really pretty, I figured the place might get crowded and noisy at night. It was just 11 am and I had a lot of time to explore around. So I decided to head on.
I came to the next town of Punta Del Diablo, a summer vacation spot and rode around looking for a Bomberos. I couldn’t spot one, but people did tell me there was a Bomberos Voluntarios in town, but was closed during off season. Bummer. As I was searching, I met Rodrigo and Juliana painting and repairing their rental cabins. I stopped to ask for some info and we started chatting. I asked about sleeping in their property and they said they could only let me sleep indoors. Juliana asked me if I wanted to pay or was looking for a free spot. I was open to both and asked if I could exchange a night’s sleep for some work they might have. I could see that she wanted to help, but was a bit skeptical. Turned out, just a few days back a Colombian cyclist had passed thro and though he offered to do work for a free stay, he ended up doing nothing and left them with a bad feeling. As I chatted with them and they felt comfortable with me and offered a small room at the back if I could help with some work or was willing to pay 10USD. I thought it would be nice to do some work for them and offered that.
My job involved painting a wall and also moving about 500 Kg of chopped wood across the road to build a ‘sort of’ fence. It was a bit of a upper body workout, but it was fun, a few hours of work and I get to spend the night. Nothing’s better than instant reciprocity 🙂
Rodrigo and Juliana were really kind people and I was pretty miffed at the other cyclist who was a bit of an asshole. Ah well, takes all sorts to make the world. They let me use their kitchen to make some dinner. Strangely the power failed in the entire village and I had to make my pasta in a bit of darkness. With the mosquitoes starting their attack, I called in for an early night.
Route: Chui (Brazil) to Punta Del Diablo (Uruguay)
Distance: 57 Km
Services: 20 Km apart.
Expenses: SG$ 21.11
Comments: Can’t believe some cyclists behave like the world owes them something. Cycle touring is a layperson’s endeavour and there is nothing superhuman about it.