I have been horrible about finishing up the South America portion of our blog. Maybe I don’t want the trip to end virtually, or maybe I just needed a break from it for a while as we adjusted to being home. I am actually writing this from a rented flat in London, so at least our lives keep throwing a few fun surprises our way. I am debating if I will continue to share our adventures on the blog once the South America part is truly finished. I guess I will just see how I feel when I get home in September from Africa, which is my next stop after London.
Uruguay was an interesting time on the trip for us. Having booked our shipping to Texas for the XP, time felt both precious and final. The entire trip we never really had any hard deadlines, time was fluid. Then suddenly we had two weeks until the XP had to be on a boat and it seemed like nothing. I kept thinking two weeks used to be my entire years worth of vacation, and now I feel like it is so little time. Funny how things change. We drove into Uruguay without a plan and used our days here to come to terms with the trip ending and to start actually thinking about what we were going to do when we got “home”.
We did not take many pictures in Uruguay, it was strange, but we just never brought the camera out with us. I think we were in a bit of a funk. As ready as we thought we were to go home, part of us never wanted to leave South America, the friends we made, or the life style of overlanding. I kept reminding myself that change is good, even the change I struggle against. Change helps me evolve into a different and better person, and I always knew that one day this trip would end. I needed to dig deep to make peace with it.
Colonia del Sacramento
Our first place we stayed was in the lovely colonial town of Colonia del Sacramento. We spent four days here, parked for free in the heart of the old city near the old fortified wall. It is funny, at this point in our trip we are fearless about free camping, we literally will camp anywhere. I wish we had this confidence when we started the trip, we worried way too much about “safety” and “do you think we can camp here”. Now we just ask a local or a police officer if it is ok, and go for it.
The weather was perfect here, balmy days and cool river breezes at night. The historic center where we were camped was so charming, and we spent our days walking around the cobbled stone streets, drinking liters of cold beer next to the water and talking about what we were going to do with our lives. It was both relaxing and stressful, a strange combination.
We needed to get to Montevideo to pick up a package that Marc from XP was sending us. It was a replacement slave cylinder in case ours failed again. We were so worried about it breaking days before we had to put the truck on a boat, that we thought it would be safer to have the spare part. After all the trouble getting it (and ourselves) to Uruguay, of course it lasted the entire time, and we could have saved hundreds of dollars if we did not send it. Life is sometimes ironic that way. But I guarantee if the clutch had failed again we would have been celebrating having the part with us.
Montevideo was interesting. The historic part felt a bit run down and depressing, but the rest of the city was beautiful and just throbbing with well off, happy and healthy people. Uruguay was probably the most expensive country we visited and it was very modern. Many places felt just like the US along the coast and the agricultural interior overflowing with soy bean crops was full of very expensive and modern farming equipment.
Beaches of Uruguay
Our final week was spent on the coast of Uruguay. We went to a Swiss owned and run camp ground for overlanders that both stores vehicles (Uruguay gives people a one year vehicle import permit, the longest in South America I think) and allows you to camp when you are prepping for shipping. It was right on the beach and was a really nice place to prepare for shipping. Our Swiss friends Michael and Simone were also getting Fritz ready to ship and a bunch of other overlanders from all over the world we had met going all the way back to our time in Mexico were also packing their rigs and getting ready to go home. Everyone was getting ready to ship, so we were all a bit contemplative and sad and also excited to see family again. It was great to be around so many people who were going through the same thing and made it easier for all of us to come to peace with the end of an epic few years on the road.
While we were here we went on super long walks on the beach everyday. The coast stretched for miles and miles. As I went for long walks alone, saying hello to people in Spanish or talking to a fisherman about his catch, I realized just how at home I felt in South America. I was used to people walking around sipping from mate gourds, Spanish was normal to me now, I loved how kind the people were here. What years ago was unfamiliar to me, now was my life. I was terrified of leaving and going back to the United States. Two years away had made it feel like a foreign country to me, and I tried to imagine everyone sipping from Starbucks cups instead of the silver straws of the mate gourds. I was worried I would not be able to find this level of happiness back in the US. So much unknown ahead………
Our final night in the XP came quickly and we spent it near the border on a pull out overlooking the river. I cried a little. We would still have the XP in the US, it was not like we would never camp in it again, but it was the final night in the XP of this trip, and even though we still had six weeks in Buenos Aires, we had only one more day with Hero. I felt sad it was coming to an end, but also relieved. During the last month knowing that the end was coming was difficult. Part of me wanted to move on and stop thinking about the overlanding trip ending, and instead appreciate the time we had left with both my parents and Sam’s older sister visiting us in Buenos Aires. The other part of me never wanted it to end.