Friday, January 29, 2010

Heaven and hell

La Pedrera
Our few days in La Pedrera were unquestionably beautiful and serene. The town is as laid back and lazy as we could have asked for on a beach holiday! There are two beaches to vary the routine - one with waves that had the ability to easily toss us around with their strength (instead we spent most of the time just watching the surfers). The other beach was stocked with people as the surf was much gentler and the swimming was good.

Picturesque beach in La Pedrera!

The days were very nice. And then we had to return to the hostel...the hostel from HELL!

I know that very few of you will have sympathy for the whining that is about to happen here. Yes, we were on a beach, yes we are not returning to a day job (yet)...
YES, we appreciate all of that! But it still doesn't change the fact that in the middle of our life-cation, we became super excited at the prospect of a relaxing beach vacation. And it also doesn't change the fact that we have the capacity to be super disappointed when things don't work out according to plan.

It seems as if every Argentinian and their dog was also in La Pedrera for their summer holidays, resulting in prices being driven up, and availability way down. We locked into a decently regarded hostel (El Viajero) for 4 nights (paid in advance). It is one of the most expensive hostels we have ever stayed in, but we deemed it worthy enough - who really cares what it's like anyways, as long as the beautiful beaches are nearby, right?

WRONG! What a nightmare this place was, and how quickly our beach getaway went downhill.

We felt very out of place, even unwelcome, by the staff. They were snide and unhelpful. The room was unbearable. We had a choice between either dealing with muggy heat, or opening the screenless window and dealing with a severe bug infestation. We chose muggy heat and suffered sleepless nights (and STILL many mosquito bites), before finally giving in to sleeping pills and cold showers in the middle of the night. We were relentlessly careful not to touch the walls that were covered with many squashed bugs from previous tenants. Finally, in order to keep the hundreds of ants from crawling under our door and all over our room, Pete ingeniously placed some peanuts a few feet away from our door which drew their attention away from harassing us.

After the second sleepless night, we asked for reprieve in the form of allowing us to leave early with a refund for unused nights, or at the very least, a fan. Their policy did not allow for refunds. Fans were supposedly "on order". Why on earth an accommodation would not put fans in place before summer (and high season) is beyond me? And why would they want disgruntled visitors to stay on and become more miserable?

Do they not know who we are?? (HA!)

We endured the last couple of nights there with chemical assistance (beer and sleeping pills). On both nights I enjoyed cold showers before bed, and then again during the middle of the night when I woke up and the sheets were soaked with sweat. Those four nights in total were easily the worst of our trip.

And so, after all this said, if you still don't have any sympathy for us, then please at least have it for Pete...having to deal with his sleepless and miserable wife. It wasn't pretty.

La Paloma
Just 12 kms from La Pedrera, we spent two nights in the bigger and more touristy La Paloma. Wanting to give ourselves a treat, we upgraded from a trashy hostel to a rundown hotel! Gone was our need for sleeping pills and ant-diversion-techniques! The room did have a fan (although it wasn't the greatest, so I still ended up with middle of the night showers), but all-in-all, it was a big step up from the previous place. And, best of all, it was directly on another beautiful beach!

With umbrellas, chairs, and towels provided by the hotel, we felt like we were in heaven. Our days were spent without a care, alternating between sun, shade, and surf.

Our evenings were just as beautiful as our days. On our first night, we witnessed the most unbelievable sunset either of us has ever seen. So much so, that some of the Argentinians behind us even applauded as the sun finally set. It was, very, VERY amazing.

Canadian influence?
There is one thing that I must mention here. In every restaurant we have been to in Uruguay, a "Chivito Canadiense" has been on the menu (which translates to a Canadian steak sandwich). Finally, in La Paloma, our curiosity got the best of us and Pete ordered it.

It was a large steak sandwich, complete with a fried egg, fried ham, cheese, lettuce and tomato. Essentially, a heart-attack on a plate. Now, why this sandwich is called "Canadian" (I've never seen it on a menu in Canada!), or how it has made it's way onto every menu in Uruguay, I would be very interested to know!

We left the touristy beach resorts behind and began our trip back down the coast with a stop in Montevideo, Uruguay's capital city. We allotted only one night here, in the interest of getting to spend more time in the town that stole our hearts when we first set foot into Uruguay (Colonia).

It was quite a slap in the face to be back in the city, amidst the aggressive traffic and noise. And once again, we found ourselves in a less than desirable hostel...a weird place with twisty halls and little stairs - the roof in our room is only 2 inches taller then Pete's head. We are beginning to think that perhaps this is just the way things are in this country. All the more reason for us to set-up shop here? Hmmm...

We got in late, thanks to missing our first bus out of La Paloma, so we really only had time for dinner and a short walk down La Rambla, a promenade along the beach on which the city is situated. The cityscape was quite a spectacular view at dusk:

We slept fitfully in the hot room, and are up early this morning and ready for another short, 3 hour bus ride back to Colonia. We are rounding off our venture into Uruguay with 2 blissful nights in a room with air conditioning (this was a MUST when booking!) We are also excited to meet up with our American/Canadian friend Kylee who is also passing through (we met Kylee in Sucre). And then our beach vacation is officially over...back to our life-cation. Sigh.


1 comment:

  1. Oh no! That hostel sounds awful! We ended up in the other HI hostel which was ok. Needed some serious airconditioning though.

    Claire Cogs