We're in Punta del Diablo, Devil's Point, in the north of Uruguay, close to the Brazilian border. It started storming the day we arrived, and it hasn't stopped, not even for an hour. Overnight, the weather went from 30 degrees and sunny to 12 degrees wet wild and windy.
The horrible weather didn't stop these Punta del Diablo locals from enjoying the beach.
Punta del Diablo is a tiny fishing village with dirt roads, a handful of sheds, small shops and eateries, and the sort of picturesque cabins us tourists swoon over until the roof starts to leak.
At the frutería just outside a local supermercado.
We're told the village has a permanent population of more or less 1000. In summer, the number can swell to tens of thousands of mostly Brazilians, Argentinians and local Uruguayans who come to party, enjoy the summer sun, and surf. Because it's so small and fairly isolated, we've come here strictly to chill, not to see if it's a place we can retire in. (But who knows.)
"¡Uruguay es muy caro!" locals have been telling us all week. Uruguay is very expensive. Who would have thought. But they're right. Prices of many things here, like petrol and utilities and even eating out, are surprisingly only slightly cheaper than in Sydney.
Here in Punta del Diablo, the Brazilian border town of Chuy is less than 40 kilometres away and locals drive there to shop and pump petrol. It still works out cheaper. As an affordable place to retire in, Uruguay wouldn't make our list. But in every other way, we love it. We can even imagine living here in this (currently) soggy village with gaping potholes carving up the dirt roads, no medical facilities to speak of for us oldies, and no permanent vet services for our precious pigdog.
Could cheap caipirinhas and good apple crumble be valid reasons for moving here?
As in other places we've visited in Uruguay, there are many street dogs in Punta del Diablo. The locals don't seem to mind them and, in fact, are very tolerant of their coming and going. Some wear collars and belong to people but are free to wander.
"And this is how you dry yourself off when you haven't got a soft fluffy towel and hair dryer."
"You rub against the wall like this, up and down...
...up and down...
This little tyke scored a bone from the butcher in the supermercado.
We thought she was a stray, but the fruit and vege lady knows her and says her name is Maria.
"Don't you feel sorry for me, turista. I might be little but I know how to take care of myself."
"Hola! Could I please come in for a pat and some food?"
"Oi turistas, don't forget to leave me some scraps, okay?"
I can't verify this story and I'm not sure that I agree with this practice if it's true, but it seems to work, so who am I to judge.
What I can say is that the street dogs we've met so far, are not nervous of humans (as dogs that have been abused can be). Some are very naughty and like chasing and barking at cars and motorbikes which can be a problem. But apart from that, they're affectionate, well behaved and seem to understand their boundaries well.
These 2 came to our cabin for a feed today. There must be a local doggy grapevine because we find more and more dogs waiting for us each day.
"¡Buenos días! Are you the Cushion we've heard so much about?"
"What's on the menu today? Kibble? Bikkies? How about some bones?"
"Don't worry, we won't come in. You can feed us out here."
Honestly, their manners would put Georgia's to shame.
A few other perros del Uruguay.
The picture above and the 2 below, from Maldonado.
Can you spot the doggy in the picture above?
Picture A: The doggy below was in La Barra. It looks like she may have had a litter not too long ago.
Picture B: This dog lives in Punta del Diablo. Many (maybe even most) male dogs here are intact, which could be the reason why there are dogs like the one in Picture A.
This is Ollie from Barcelona, who now lives in Punta del Diablo with Sara and Leo, the lovely young couple we're renting our cabin from. (If you're thinking of visiting this place, I can't recommend them enough and you can email me for their details.)
Ollie kindly shares her home with 2 street dogs, Negrita..
Negrita and Clarita are free dogs who come and go as they please. They get fed every day by Sara and Leo. If Sara and Leo are away, they get fed by other families in the area.On cold rainy windy days like today, they also have a welcome spot by the fire at Sara and Leo's home.
I have to include these 2 pictures of Cushion in La Barra, cooing in his sweetest voice, trying to coax this dog to come up to him.
This might be the first time ever Cushion has been so pointedly ignored by a dog.
Here are some other favourite shots from last week -
In Punta del Este.
Lots of vets and pet shops around.
In Jose Ignacio.
On the bus from Jose Ignacio to Maldonado.
Tomorrow, we head off down south again, to Piriápolis, then Atlántida, Montevideo and back across the Río de la Plata to Buenos Aires on Sunday. I hope the rain doesn't follow us! Until the next time we get good internet connection, adiós mis amigos! X