Thursday, August 13, 2009

Visit to Colonia, Uruguay

So yesterday I went to Colonia, Uruguay.

The restored/boat museum in Puerto Madero.

Puerto Madero in the morning.

You can't really see it, but the dock for Buquebus is off in the distance at one end of Puerto Madero. So I ran over there, filled out my paperwork, headed onto the boat and took a nap.

It's a nice boat. I didn't really notice at first when I stepped on it, then for a moment I thought I was in a fairly decent hotel. I was in first class, which as far as I can tell was basically the same as regular class. It was the same price given the rather cheap promotion that I used.

I then proceeded to sleep for the next 3 hours. When I woke, we were there.

I think I uploaded the pictures (took forever, I hate blogger) the same day, wrote all text above the next day, and now, 8/18 when I should be asleep, I am writing the rest.

I arrived in Colonia. A Dutch girl who I didn't think spoke Spanish very off right before me and was taking the same tour I was. She chose to take the tour in Spanish, not English. Oh pride that has not been conquered, of course I will take the tour in Spanish. Of course, I managed to fail to understand the Spanish instructions and almost missed that bus...nearly venturing out into the city on my own.

Did I regret taking the tour in Spanish? Yes. The speakers on the bus were horrible and I couldn't really hear the guide. When we got off the bus, I went and asked Dutch girl what she said, and apparently we had an hour lunch break. I wandered down to the water and saw this map. Notice that everything is in both Spanish and English. Hegemony has its virtues as well as its vicissitudes.

I had been told to rent a gokart/moto and take it around the city. Hmm...didn't do it, will do it next time probably, but I did find it annoying how they didn't post a price. If they had post a price -- any price -- I'd have paid it, but I am stubborn and find distasteful the notion that someone will charge me more.

Yeah, I try to be rational, apparently I do not follow the economic model perfectly.

A little past the sign, took a picture. Wandered back up the street, found the big plaza of the city, sat down and watched people pass by. Was very disappointed that not! every! Uruguayan! had! a! mate! thermos! under! their! arm! (that's a porteno stereotype)

We got on the bus, wandered up through town, wandered over towards the rest of the city. No pictures, as I take pictures rather haphazardly and had to pay close attention to pick up anything over the speakers.

There apparently was a former resort area of some sort in the early 20th century (Americans should remember that back then (pre Peron socialism) Buenos Aires was on par with the US on GDP per capita) that had a racetrack, a casino, and...a bullfighting ring. This bullfighting ring was built in 1910, held 10k people and...the Uruguayan government banned bullfighting in 1912 after a very massive enormous 8 fights. I am sure that the Porteno investors (I looked this up) were very pleased. (very far afield Evan sidenote: political risk is almost always the Black Swan when investing, be duly warned...have I noted that a large percent of my investments are concentrated in a specific sector which is massively suffering because of the current President's pandering? A government that can give you what you want can take it away? yeah, moving on). Anyway, I don't know why the rest of the resort area is in ruins, but the bullfighting ring hasn't been used since then and is falling apart. Check the link for some pics. Despite the fact that it is obviously crumbling and the fact that there were many posted signs warning of danger, there were 10 guys inside the ring playing soccer with backpacks as goals.

Anyway, the point of of this photo is this picture is ostensibly of the islands off the coast of Colonia. But I think if you look closer, you may be able to see the large buildings of Buenos Aires to the right of the islands.

Next was the walking city tour. It was interesting, and I understood most of it. This is the city gate and wall. Why such a massive wall? Because the city of Colonia changed hands 7 times between the Spanish and Portuguese. And a few times after that, of course. Oh, and I do not like mimes.

This is taken from the vantage point of the right side of the picture above. The wall persists, with the cannons and such.

Same vantage point, more to the left.

Same vantage point, from the wall, but to the right instead of the left. Lighthouse. Note that for a winter day, it was beautiful and almost 70. We had a warm week. This is the the sort of winted I chose Buenos Aires for.

How much did I understand of the tour? Well I struggle with Spanish years, there's like a million words just to say the year and they say them so fast because they are used to it and I'm not, but I took the photo of these houses to point out the Spanish (to the right) and Portuguese (to the left) arquitecture. I apparently understood enough to know that she explained that the reason that the Portuguese house's roof tiles are uneven: the slaves formed the tiles by forming them to their thighs.

I was standing on the deck of the Buquebus, about 4 floors high and took this picture...that point to the left is where most of the pictures I took are from. In fact, I just realized that I think you can see the lighthouse from earlier.

A very enjoyable trip. It cost me about $45 total. I wish I had taken a picture going right from where I was standing when I took the picture above. There was a sunken ship that had clearly been there for 10 years or so, at least. This seems to be not terribly uncommon here, if you remember my Tigre wait, I never posted those. Nevermind.

However, what amazes me is this: the boat was full of recent graffiti. On first look, schmeh, graffiti on an abandoned structure. When I arrived to Colonia, this didn't impress me. On leaving...I realized that someone took a little rowboat out to this boat and boarded it. Yes, they boarded a decades-old sunken ship with parts sticking out of the water, which seems like a very bright proposition to me: always smart to trust the structural stability of abandoned ships. And they did this in the middle of the night spraypaint.


Anonymous said...

Rent the moto next time. It's not very expensive and totally worth it. You can cruise and really get a feel for the city and if you're lucky and industrious, find some hidden paths to secluded beaches. Cheers!

Evan said...

If I was never going to go back to Colonia, I would've rented the moto. As it is, I'll be back in Colonia a few times.

Nik said...

Oh, good, so your paperwork is slightly more in order now, i.e. Your visa is renewed?