Into Uruguay   3 comments

The Ruta 9 out of Buenos Aires was long and uneventful – but the fact that I had finally hit the road and was riding the Pan-American Highway was excitement enough. Industrial areas changed into wide flat Pampa and the traffic ebbed away kilometre by kilometre. I joined the Ruta 12 north near Zarate and crossed the Río Paraná Delta via two impressive bridges.

Autopista Mesopotamica

At Ceibas the Ruta 14 began and I stopped after having done exactly 100 miles to check the fuel consumption – due to my broken foot I didn’t get the opportunity to test ride the bike properly and have a rough idea how long a tank would last me. Just under four litres for 100 kilometres or 72 mpg fully loaded on the motorway was a result I couldn’t really complain about.

The Pampa is mainly flat...

Vintage, beautiful and still in use

The GPS indicated a shortcut to Gualeguaychú and I had a quick look at a sandy dirt road. No, I was not ready for trail riding yet and so I continued on the highway until the official Ruta 136 branched off to the east. Over the beautiful Puente Internacional Libertador General San Martín I crossed the Río Uruguay and arrived at the border between Argentina and Uruguay.

Border to Uruguay

In the background you can spot the bridge

Rarely have I experienced such an efficient border crossing – although having to pass through four different desks: pre-check and start of procedure, personal details, vehicle documents, insurance and customs plus temporary import registration – but everything was dealt with as quickly and friendly as possible. I think I needed less than 15 minutes and this included chatting about my trip, the bike and about the origin of the German names of some of the officers such as ‘Ehrhardt’ and ‘Schmidt’.

Rarely have I experienced such a pleasant border crossing

While changing money and talking to the nice chap in the tourist office (Leopoldo) about the region, I thought it would be quite appropriate for a vegetarian of 30 years to stay in Fray Bentos, the home of the Liebig Extract of Meat… 😉

Leopoldo recommended the campsite at the Parador Playa Ubici and off I went to find an idyllic little hostel directly by the river. The hostess Antonela was just about to leave when I arrived but stopped immediately, showed me the facilities and the rooms, from which I could choose, as I was the only guest this Sunday evening. Well, for the equivalent of 8.00 GBP I decided to leave tent and sleeping bag in the luggage roll.

Parador Playa Ubici in Fray Bentos

Antonela carried all my panniers upstairs and made me feel really welcome and at home. The travel guide hadn’t exaggerated in the chapter about the warmth, helpfulness and hospitality of the Uruguayan people.

After having changed into a civilized, nicely smelling human being again, I headed into town for dinner, allegedly just a short stroll away from the hostel. Well, I won’t bore you with details of my odyssey through Fray Bentos but it was at least a three-kilometre walk until I found the excellent Pizzeria ‘Los Immigrantes’ in the lively town centre. Not a big deal normally but I was still limping! When I finally returned to the Parador my ankle looked like a tennis ball. Maybe I should have splashed out and taken a taxi…

However, I found Fray Bentos a nice place with friendly and helpful people. Although I crossed a few rather un-touristy corners I never felt uncomfortable and my greeting was always returned with a smile. I was looking forward to exploring more of this promising country the following day.

Río Uruguay by night

Posted 30 August 2010 by Pumpy in Uruguay

3 responses to “Into Uruguay

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  1. Hi Manuela,glad to hear you are surviving SA,particularly with your ankle,good luck with the remainder of the trip.
    Regards
    Chris B

    Chris Blomfield
  2. Glad to see that things are going so well at the moment. I hope you find somewhere to upload lots more pics!

    I hope the foot is holding up well and not getting any worse for the woorkout it’s getting?

    Chris

  3. I am very jealous of you Ela. Enjoy the rest of the trip.

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