The gorgeous white city of Casa Pueblo is something straight out of Dr. Suess!
After exploring the city of Montevideo for a few days I decided I wanted to find the real culture in the outskirts.
While the hotel seems to be booked months in advanced, it is a great day trip just 2 hours outside Montevideo. The COT bus takes you out there for about $300UYU each trip, and from there you can visit the HANDS OF GOD. Basically this cool artsy oversized hand on the beach. Yet nobody told us the distance from los dodos at Bravos Beach to CasaPueblo was not a stop off the bus!
Seemed like a fair excuse to rent a moped for the day for around $50US from Thrifty, just two blocks from the bus stop. We spent 15 minutes making sure we knew how to drive the thing, then 20 careless minutes on the long stretch of beachfront highway toward Punta Ballena.
The former artists house was more than I imagined; the structure was gorgeous and the textiles that shaped the bird-like building are so unique. The cafe made a descent coffee, at least the best I’ve had in South America yet, an acoustic version of Blackbird (similar to the one my father played) was softly playing over the speakers, and to top it all, Mr. Carlos Vilarós old, near-blind cat was following me everywhere. I felt at home if just for a second.
The ride back was a breeze, and took more photos by the hands as we waited for more tour buses to clear out. It was rare to catch that part of the beach empty even in off season. Moseyed our way toward the bus station to catch our 6:30pm bus back into Montevideo.
We were lost going through photos of the day when we saw our bus departing. Grabbed our things without thinking and ran toward the moving bus, which the driver so kindly let us get on. Upon taking our seats I reached toward my headphones in my new leather backpack.
My heart plummeted as I raced toward the front of the bus and pleaded for the driver to let us off. We were in such a hurry, I just knew it was still sitting on that seat in the terminal. Time was ticking and that bag was now sitting unguarded for almost 15 minutes.
Arrived to find jakes cheap street sunglasses on an empty seat but no sign of my backpack. We then spent another 20 minutes trying to convince the rude COT agent that my backpack may intact be on the bus and we would appreciate if they would call the driver to check and place in security for when we return. I was so determined that it was there, and poor Jake just helped me piece my broken Spanish.
Four janitors, three COT agents, two security guards, one concession owner, and a kind local translator later we confirmed the bag was neither on the bus or found in the bus terminal. I was beginning to lose hope and coming to terms with the fact that the backpack is gone and at least I wasn’t carrying anything important in it, other than my debit card.
With a spark of hope Jake asks “did you leave it at the hands?” – I race out the door across the street, across the highway toward the beach where the last of sun is fading across the thumb of the hands of God. The entire way all I can do is pray it may actually be there, despite how many tourists would have passed it in the 45 minutes since we left.
I approach the thumb holding my breath, knowing this will be my last try to recover it. Like a child who finds her lost cat, I fall to my knees and cry – there it is, crumpled by its lonesome self at the thumb of God. While this all seems so dramatic at the time, it felt like a small gift and lesson.
We arrive back at the bus terminal where the concession stand owner marvels at the sight of my bag. He shouts “You are very lucky, consider yourself born again twice!” I glow with happiness as we approach the COT agent to change our bus time for the third time.
The unamused agent bluntly says “Since you got on the bus earlier (for 5 minutes!) you will need to buy another ticket”. Hah, guess you can’t win them all. Regardless, this entire area has something mystical about it, and it ain’t just about recovering my lost backpack!
Onwards and upwards – next stop – Iguazu Falls where I can finally live out my parrot fantasy.