I think the podcast might’ve given you the impression that Punta del Diablo was shit. That wasn’t the case, it was actually really nice there. I’m sure it would be utterly lovely if you were staying in a cabaña with someone you want to cuddle. Plus, I guess it would help if I wasn’t in a bit of a shitty mood in the first place. One must trudge along, though, ’cause there’s no way out of a bad mood by continuing to feel sorry for myself.
My arrival in Punta del Diablo was quite a cool one. It sounded romantic and stuff when the woman at the bus station explained that I would be dropped off on the main road, at a junction five kilometres from the village. That will be interesting, I thought, like something I should be doing. But it was a right old galumph in the early afternoon sun. And as I walked along the road, seeing very few cars go by, and seeing very few dwellings, I did begin to wonder what sort of place I would be visiting. But a friend of mine had lived in Uruguay for a while, and she’d recommended it, so I didn’t worry too much.
It took a while to find the hostel, but I did find a bar near the beach, so took a break to ask for directions (aka have a beer). My first contact with a real life Uruguayan was a guy who’d just come out of the sea clutching a surfboard, and who seemed rather euphoric. He hugged his girlfriend, had a chug of his beer, then beamingly said hello to me, welcomed me to Uruguay and asked if I wanted some tequila in my beer. I couldn’t refuse, really, as the bottle was already virtually horizontal over my glass. But, yes, that was a nice way to arrive. And, hopefully, that’ll be what I remember about the village rather than the low mood and hostel shittery.
Although, the amount of street dogs I saw there, and that I’ve seen on my whole journey, never fails to flick the melancholy switch in my heart. Seeing how they’re treated as a nuisance, and seeing the look in their eyes when you show a tiny bit of friendliness to them. I know I shouldn’t, ’cause they’re probably full of disease, but the part of me that really misses Billy often gives them a pat on the head or a scratch behind the ear and, if there’s no waiter around to get annoyed, I’ll feed them a bit of meat or bread. On the beach on Monday, though, I saw a dead dog. Obviously been there for a fair few days, ’cause as I passed by – giving it a wide berth – it became clear that, well, I dunno the technical phrase, but it looked like a melting blob covered in hair. And it was terribly stinky. Poor fella. The heart-breakingest thing, though, was as I returned along the beach, there was another dog who was sat there, just looking at the dead dog. Of course, I’m probably projecting emotions onto dogs, but we all do that sometimes, don’t we? He was probably having a little chat with his dead pal, about what the other dogs are up to today, what food he’s eaten, and how he found a nice place to have a nap in the shade. And how he wished he’d wake up, ’cause he wanted to play on the beach like they used to do.
I spent my second and final evening there drinking booze at a bar and finding myself wallowing a little in the black bile, like one is inclined to do now and then. I suppose I should’ve made the effort there and then to talk to the friendly-looking German girls at the next table, but I would’ve been terrible company anyway. I went back to the hostel, packed my stuff up, and generally organised things for a swift getaway in the morning. I didn’t set the alarm on my watch; I just assumed that I would wake up around 7am, as I have been doing lately. I was woken up, though, at just gone 6am when I heard the door of the dorm open. Then I heard a man and a woman doing that shhh-be-quiet whispery giggling. Their New Zealander accents continued until the talky noises turned to sloppy tongue noises, then, rather inevitably, the sounds of a bunk bed creaking and the moans and groans of drunk fucking.
So, what exactly is the correct protocol when one is inadvertently party to other people having sex? Thankfully, their bunk was out of my sight line, but I was lying there hoping they’d hurry up and get it over with, ’cause I needed to get up and get ready to leave. Could I have faked some waking-up noises that might have made them stop long enough for me to get out of there? Or would they have just carried on? What happened, though, was they ran out of steam after a while; the shagging petered out, and the snoring began, and I was able to get out without them knowing I’d heard their shenanigans.
Anyway, I’m in Montevideo now. Still not in a great mood, to be honest, but the afternoon walk I had was pleasant. I quite like what I’ve seen so far. There’s a nice faded glory about the place, the atmosphere seems nice. I saw a small carnaval-type procession, and I had some splendid grilled chicken at Mercado del Puerto, a wonderful-smelling indoor market full of meaty restaurants. All rounded off with a nice long sleep in a room, all by myself.