Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Crossing the border into Uruguay.

The border crossing was a breeze. The most exciting thing to happen was meeting with a fellow traveler from the States. Doing virtually the same route we are but on a motorcycle and by himself. It was quite amazing that, at the most southern point in Brazil and one of the most remote crossings, the only other person was another American. We exchanged stories as the officials took care of our paperwork. The lady at the Aduana office even spoke English. On the Uruguayan side, we processed through immigration and customs with a minimum of fuss. The person who inspected the RV also asked if we had documentation for Winston. I started pulling the USDA certificate, now almost two years old and certificates for rabies and health. He barely glanced at them and said ok. The fact that we have the paperwork and can show it on demand means more to the officials than actually reading it. He also asked if we had any meat or dairy. Because our refrigerator isn’t working and we are using an ice-chest, we didn’t, but other travelers, beware. He would have confiscated them. Even with this, the crossing only took us about 20 minutes. We had planned our first stop to be at the Parque Nacional de Santa Teresa, which was a campground that Sylvia from Paraguay had told us about. It is only about 40 kilometers from the border but first we need to get Uruguayan pesos, groceries and gas. The towns we passed en route had no bank and we were getting concerned. We arrived in Santa Teresa and immediately saw the old fortaleza (fort) on the hill. Built in 1762 it guarded this area of coastline until the early 1800’s. Although the guard allowed us to drive up to it, it was closed. Apparently, it is only open Thursday through Sunday and we vow to try to return providing we are still in the area. From there it was only another few minutes to the national park. To our surprise, it is guarded by the military. We ask about a bank and store. “Chuy”, the guard answered. Chuy? No where closer? He also said we could drive another 40 kilometers south to Castillos. Since we did not really want to retrace our route, we decided to go to Castillos and then explore some coast, maybe camp someplace else. In Castillos, we found the bank, a small supermarket and gas. Close to Castillos is the road to Aguas Dulces, which our map showed had a campground. However the camping was far from the beach and did not look very nice. We decided to go back up the coast and return to the national park. Dogs are technically not allowed but after we were told to keep Winston on a leash and close to the motor home and we agreed, everything was fine. The park is beautifully maintained with plenty of camp sites and small cabinas for rent. There are easy beach access roads and we chose a camp site on a hill overlooking the ocean. We allow Winston to play a little on the beach, under constant supervision of course and we are pleased with our first day in this small country that remains below the radar for most tourists but seems inviting to us.

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