After refreshing my bike’s temporary import permit at the border, I spend the night in a basic Mendoza hotel. It’s a nice enough city, with lots of parks and trees.
I dine on the street at a good restaurant, and while I’m there, a passerby steals the handbag of a lady dining next to me. It happened so fast I didn’t realise what was going on. Waiters and fellow diners were chasing this guy up the street, but he really legged it and they had no show. I was later told that this is becoming more common as tough times are making crime a viable option for some.
The other issue with dining on the street is the hawkers and beggars who do the rounds of the nearby restaurants. It’s hard not to feel guilty as I’m consuming good food and wine, while someone less fortunate is asking for money. It somewhat takes the shine off my epicurean experience.
I spend a couple of days riding across the agricultural centre of Argentina and then arrive in the city of Rosario, on the banks of the Paraná river. I find a great restaurant in town and dine on delicious fish, fresh from the river and cooked on the Argentine BBQ, known as a Parrilla.
The next day finds me in Gualeguaychú, where I spend a night at a really nice B&B.
This place used to be a foundry and the owner has converted it into a very interesting place to stay.
A walk along the river to the town centre is interesting. It reminds me of Holland, a I spy a tidy example of my favourite little car, the Citroen 2CV.
In the morning I leave early and cross the river Uruguay. From the top of the bridge I can look downstream and see the massive Argentine capital, Buenos Aires.
The border crossing into Uruguay is easy, and in no time I’m checking into my little hostel in Nueva Palmira, or New Palmy as the locals call it.
It’s hot, and when the sun begins to set, the locals like to come out and sit in the street, drinking Matte tea and socialising with their neighbours.
The next day's ride takes me through countryside that reminds me of Victoria, Australia, or some parts of New Zealand. It’s a landscape of dairy farms and eucalyptus plantations.
I know of some dairy farmers from New Zealand that bought up land in Uruguay, converted it to larger scale dairy and introduced the Kiwi way of farming.
The roads are great, the cows are knee deep in grass and everything is modern, neat and tidy, with no litter to be seen anywhere. Yet compared to Argentina it seems somehow a little boring. Too much like home perhaps.
My next day is spent in the capital, Montevideo. It’s a very nice city with great architecture and I’m lucky to choose a good B&B in a beautiful historic building.
I wander down to the local cafe, set in a small garden centre.
I spend the following day exploring the capital, and ride along the coast to Colonia. My evening's accommodation has 8 dogs. There’s a definite pecking order, and the poodle type dog lays in the doorway of the kitchen. She is the boss, and always 1st in line for any treats being handed out.
I’ve struck it lucky with interesting places to stay lately and this stately home is no exception.
But it has the longest Wifi password I’ve seen yet. I’m not sure why, as there are no neighbours for miles…
So, how does Uruguay rate on Muzza’s shithole scale? Well, not too bad actually. A stable economy, good roading and infrastructure, and a farming based economy. I’m not sure what the point of having great roads is, when you limit the speed to 90kph, and a zero alcohol tolerance when driving seems like overkill to me.
I found Uruguay somewhat boring, almost as if they’d legislated all the risk away, but somehow eliminated all the joy along with it. So Uruguay gets gets a 7.5 on Muzza’s shithole scale. Loosen up a little, Uruguay!
Next morning I make my way to the ferry terminal, deal with the border paper work and board the ferry back into Argentina and the capital, Buenos Aires.
At the terminal I meet Aussie bikers Eric and Carolyn. They are undertaking a similar journey to mine, riding a nice couple of BMW GS 850’s.
We begin our one-hour journey on our fast catamaran ferry, across the widest river in the world, the Rio de la Plata. Buenos Aires is across the river, but it’s not until we’re halfway across that the huge capital reveals itself from the horizon.
I’m looking forward to a couple of days off the bike, exploring a little of this huge city.