Rambling Robert's Travels

This blog chronicals the travels of myself, Rambling Robert, on my next adventure to South America.

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I am a world traveller. I do not work as such. I have been homeless and unemployed since 1October 2003. I worked as a chef for 30 years in America.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

travel update from Colonia del Sacramento Uy

Saludos a Todos,
I am in a town on the rio del plata (silver River) in Uruguay called Colonia del Sacramento. I just got back from the beach. Here there are white sand beaches on the Rio del Plata. It is marvelously sunny and hot So I took my sarong and put on my swimming pants and went down to the river for a sunbath and a nice cool refreshing dip.
I am staying in a little hostel called El EspaƱol. It is a nice hostel. The people are friendly and the place is cheap. Well, okay, cheap by Uruguayan standards. The asking price for the cheap dormitorio is $12. They gave me a 10% discount for offering to stay a week.
Still this is double what I was paying in Guatemala or Ecuador. I dont recall staying anywhere in latin America where a dormitory bed cost over US$10, at least not in low season.
I have booked into a hostel in Buenos Aires which is supposed to be very very nice and it costs also $12, but this is for the busiest time of the year December 20 to January 3. Ah well, What can I say?
It is not so much that prices have gone up (which they have) but that the dollar has gone down. Nothing I can do about that. So I just accept it and say "Oh well".
I left La Paloma yesterday. La Paloma is a lovely little beach town on the Atlantic. I was there for 8 days. It is low season and so I had the beach more or less to myself most of the time.
Beautiful golden sands, but very cold water I said " I dont care!" and charged in anyway. I got in as far as my waist and said "I dont care" and ran back out! Sometimes I just don`t know what I am thinking. Still I had a very nice time there.
I stayed at a cool hostel called Alteena 5000. It was located in a large wooded City Park. The owners had two dogs and older male big black rastafarian looking dog named Oso (bear) and a younger female boxer called Celeste. Oso`s chief past time is to lay around sleeping. He is a real professional sleeper. Rarely do you meet a creature who is a better sleeper than Oso.
Celeste had great energy and went walking with me every afternoon. Well I went walking, she went running! She chased everything that moved! birds, hares, squirrels, you name it. She caught nothing ! My kind of dog !Lots of non violent fun ! She would get way out of sight and I would blow one of my loud whistles and she would come running back from wherever she was, all panting, out of breath, tongue hanging out and a big doggy smile on her face.
La Paloma is famous for its light house. I dont get it. I mean sure its a nice light house one could even call it a fine light house but uhh its just a light house. Still all the other travelers are all posing in front of it and taking fotos. I dont know, I just dont know...
My self and Vincent, a traveler from Switzerland, took a 9 km walk along the beach to the next little beach town called La Pedrera. The first 6 km were a good walk. good well packed firm sand. Then the sand got more and more loose and the walking more and more difficult. After about the first 5km, Vincent and I both thought, well, we will go there look around and walk back.Yeah right, after about 8km we were both thinking "hmmm I reckon we will take the bus back!" So by the time we got there, we were like "Gracias a dios" (thank God) and had a couple of beers and took the bus home!!
My plan has been all along to go to Argentina after here but now I aint so sure...I have been there before andf I really like the country... The problem is this...
My government, the USA is very harsh to any Latino people who want to come to USA. They charge VERY HIGH FEES to apply for a visa and then even higher fees if they grant you a visa for example a person from Uruguay must pay $US450 for a turist visam. Now many of the South and Central American countries are reciprocating because they feel this is unfair.
Of course the Democrats and Republicans who run the country are not concerned with this. they are only concerned with the issues that affect wealthy Americans like themselves. To someone who is a wealthy American the fees are not a big deal where as for me it is very tough, a big expense. here is the quote from the Argentine embassy in Washington DC.

When entering Argentine Territory, the American nationals must pay a "reciprocity fee" of U$D 131.- or its equivalent in Argentinean pesos.The payment of this reciprocity fee is NOT a visa, since Argentina does not require visa to American nationals when travelling for tourism or business purposes. The Argentine Government set this entry free on equal amounts Argentine citizenz must pay when requesting a Visa to travel to the U.S.

I feel that it is a pity that the USA citizen is no longer welcome to travel freely between countries as we once were. Most americans are unaware of this. But travelers like myself are feeling it big time. Most US citizens think the world loves us and our government and this was the case for many many years but this is changing. Laws like the one passed in Arizona are considered an outrage here.
We can not just go on mistreating our friends and neighbors and expect them to do nothing in return. South America is quickly becoming unaccessable to Budget American travelers as a result of our own governments policies. If you are an American and you wish some day to travel the world like I have been doing, the sooner you go the better. The doors to the world are beginning to close on Americans.
I believe that this is the end goal of our government. They would prefer that Americans not travel. They realize that when we leave we see the freedoms and liberties other citizens enjoy in other countries which we no longer enjoy at home and they dont want the word to get out. It is truly a pity. It used to be a good thing to have an American passport but as our government generates more and more animosity around the world this is rapidly changing.
Well that is all for now. Next update from somewhere else.
Peace and love to all of you

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

"We all agree that your theory is crazy, but is it crazy enough?" Niels Bohr

"Freedom is not something that anybody can be given; freedom is something people take and people are as free as they want to be." James Baldwin

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

travel update from Punta del Diablo

Saludos a todos,
Well, I am writing you all from Punta del Diablo. This is a small beach town about 50km from the Brazil border town of Chuy. There are no paved roads here. Not long ago this was a quiet little fishing village with a fabulous beach of golden sands and gentle waves on the South Atlantic. Now it is being discovered and is changing very quickly. right now there are only a few travelers, mostly foreign backpacker types However I am told that in high season, thousands of Uruguayans, Argentinos, and Brazileans also fill the place up.
I just can't imagine what this place will look like in high season next month. But now, many of the hotels are closed. About half the businesses are closed. I am staying in a little hostel called el diablo tranquilo. I am about 200 meters from the beach and it is quite windy today.
I am drinking a cup of tea and thinking about Uruguay. Things are good here. The people are very calm and friendly. It has only about 4 million people, yet they advanced farther than any other team in the world cup from the Western hemisphere.
Uruguay has the highest per capita income of any country in South America. It has all the appearances and feel of a wealthy country. Most of the countrys wealth comes from Agriculture, and especially animal husbandry. Huge beef and dairy industry here. One thing about you notice right away about Uruguay is,It appears very clean. Not a lot of trash strewn everywhere like some places I know. No heavy industry to speak of either.
Most of the faces one sees here are of white European features. Quite different from the indigenous and mestizo faces of colombia, ecuador, peru, or bolivia. There are a lot of ethnic Italian and German people here as well as Spanish. Almost all Catholic. There is a big Mennonite colony here as well. The beer and food here clearly reflect this ethnic mix. There are several varietys of good local beers. Pilsen seems the most popular local brand, but Patriarch(I like this one) and Schneider are also widely available. My favorite so far is a dark black porter from Patriarch.
I bought a liter of Pilsen Stout for this evening. Beer costs about 45 or 50 pesos a liter (half an American six pack for 2 or 2.50 USD). its about twenty pesos to the dollar.
This is not a cheap country. The world is rapidly going into gringo inflation! I am a gringo, an estadounidense, the dollar is being devalued by the monetary policy of printing new money and huge deficit borrowing by the government of federal reserve buying treasury notes. I am an american and so it is increasingly becoming more expensive for me to travel while it is increasingly getting cheaper for people with Euros (for example).
Still there are some bargains and most of the world is still much cheaper than USA or places where the people use Euros (for example). On my last night in Montevideo, I went to the Symphony and saw a wonderful performance with the highlights being Chaikovsky fantasia suite and Ravels Bolero. I had an excellent seat and it cost 80 pesos (4 USD).
Cheapest restaurant meals are about 100pesos (a little more than double the price of Ecuador cheap lunch meal) more realistically 120 to 150. Big mac meal is 120p ($6.00US). so, i cook all my meals (almost) in the hostel community kitchen.
The bus ride from Montevideo cost about 17 dollars for a 5 hour ride. it would have been half that in Ecuador...The road is paved and smooth and there is very little traffic and no sign of police. The police are very low key here. marijuana is totally ignored by them. People smoke joints a few meters away from the policemen in the plaza during the middle of the day...
Hotel accomodation is about double the cost of Ecuador about 60 or 70% higher than Peru or Colombia. That being written, i still expect to be here 5 or seven weeks,or maybe 5 or 4 weeks more.
The beach is just excellent here. The problem is the weather has not been cooperating with my plans. my first day here the weather was perfect beach weather hot and sunny and the next day too. Ah but now for the last two days it has been raining and grey one day and clear but cold and windy today. I expect perfect weather every day from now on for the rest of my life.
I am thinking I will spend Christmas and New Years in Buenos Aires. What are you doing? You should jet down here and join me! How bad can New Years in Buenos Aires be??
Well I am gone for now Peace and love to all of you.
Rambling Robert
"You desire to know the art of living, my friend? It is contained in one phrase: make use of suffering." Henri-Frederic Amiel

"We are here and it is now. Further than that, all human knowledge is moonshine." H.L. Mencken

"Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That's relativity." Albert Einstein