Friday, March 14, 2008

Driving in Uruguay

We left Colonia yesterday and headed east towards Montevideo, the capital city. Our goal was to see some of the farming country and landscape of Uruguay. Highways here are well built and maintained and there´s road construction too (happens in the summer no matter where you live, right?). We found corn, soybeans, and sunflowers growing on the gently rolling land. And we saw more Holstein dairy cows than we have anywhere else in South America. Herds seemed to be 100 - 200 cows, some grazing on pastureland and some in dry lots. Silage bags and piles are also abundant. As we drove further along, rocks started to appear in the fields and soon there were 2 - 4 ft. tall outcroppngs of boulder sized round rock piles scattered in the fields. In some places farmers seeded around them or cows grazed amongst them. We are curious about the type of rock they were but I guess we´ll have to investigate that online.

We had lunch in Trinidad, a farming community of about 25,000 and then continued north across the Rio Negro river into better agricultural land. Here the fields were larger, predominately soybeans and corn that was being harvested. We saw one combine working on a field of sunflowers. Much of the grain in SA is dried at the elevator and there were lots of logging trucks hauling wood to the depots. We saw 4 or 5 large (we´re talking 500,000 bushels or more) handling facilities under construction so it seems production of crops is gearing up. Many pasture fields were being sprayed and moved into cultivation. It seems that there is less zero tillage here than in Brazil or Argentina (at least from what we saw as we wandered the secondary highways).

Late in the afternoon we stopped at the tiny community of Neuvo Berlin along the river and stretched our legs on the local dock in the riverside park. We thought some strudel or kuchen might be found but we weren´t that lucky. In the city of Mercedes we found the local cathedral rising above the skyline, stopped to take some pictures and have ice cream. The portions of ice cream at little shops are huge and the pina colada and chocolate walnut combo was some of the best we´ve had.

From Mercedes we began to head south planning to complete our circle and get home. Up until now the highways had been well marked with numbers and sins but that soon changed. In the town of Dolores we couldn´t find the #21 highway so we wandered the streets for awhile eventually spotting some truck traffic across the field that seemed to be where we should be going. A few more twists and turns and we were able to continue along. By now it was dusk and we had about 150 km to go. No problem we thought, as we´d had no trouble with the condition of the roads earlier. (Do you have a feeling about where this is going yet?!!) This new road soon had some major construction going on with bridge replacements, one lane passages, bumps and holes, and a lot of dust. We were following 2 people on a motorcycle and the red light was our beacon. At one point I thought Lou was going to give them a ride on our front bumper, we got so close! After about 20 km the road improved but then we missed a sign and went 10 km off track in another direction. By now the low fuel light had come on so we had another thing to worry about! Eventually we limped into Carmelo, found gas at the second station (first one didn´t have premium fuel which our Chevrolet Merangi needed), got directions out of town and drove the last 50+ km home to Colonia. Thanks to Debbie´s navigating and Lou and Bob´s driving skills for an eventful day! We know the rest of our tour companions would have been proud of our adventuring spirit and language skills. It´s amazing how many Spanish words you can learn in one day when you are on your own and have to!!!

This morning Bob had to see a medical attendant (kindly provided by the hotel at no charge - what luck!) about the ant bites on his foot that have become infected. He was bitten a week ago at one of the farms and his foot is swollen, itchy and getting blotchy. He knew he had to get something for it before we start the long trek home so antibiotics, antihistamines and cream are now in his travel bag. And we have another new experience to add to our book of adventures!

I´m going to do a little browsing and shopping and find a place to take some sunset pictures. This town is supposed to have beautiful sunsets so I´m looking forward to that photo op later. The tourists have found Colonia today. The town is crawling with buses, tours and people. I´m so glad we had 2 quiet days to ourselves!

Oh, and we found the South American mosquitoes too! They are alive (well, most of them anyway) and biting in Uruguay!!

I hope your weekend is a time of quiet and relaxing for you! ((( HUGS )))


  1. I think you should do a layout about all your driving adventures in all the different countries you've visited. ;)
    I'm glad you have some travel companions and are able to see more of SA!
    Enjoy your last days there!

  2. It's always way more fun when you take a few wrong turns and detours. Sounds a bit like driving through the Czech Republic, but happy to hear you made it back. Are you motivated to learn more Spanish now?
    Just a few more days and then you'll be home. Did it go by quickly? Tell Dad we're praying for healing. Hugs!!

  3. I agree with Heather on the LO idea...and can't wait to see the sunset shots you take too! I so look forward to your blog post every day...and love living this fun trip through your blog with you! are a blessing my friend...and thank you for sharing all the great details! xoxo

  4. Busy, busy, busy! But sounds like lots of fun!

  5. esther11:14 AM

    ant bites - oh my gosh! And as for the driving story - you made me laugh out loud! Those are the stories that memories are made of!

  6. How come neither you or Heather have any posts (not ones I coudl find)bragging about her being published in Scrap Ect. I was reading my subscription copy during the kids skating lessons and I said to myself that baby looks familiar... then I read the name, and it was Helayna! I had to show everyone there, they were very impressed!