“No way!! A hamlet by the Ocean?” was my first reaction when I was inquisitively hearing about Cabo Polonio from a fellow backpacker at a hostel in Punta Del Diablo.
Instantly I browsed through the images of Cabo Polonio, about which I already had an image painted mentally.
The next morning I was standing on Route 9 with my backpack lugged on my shoulders. Raising my thumb with a diminishing hope of getting hitched to Cabo Polonio, I felt like it was a test to our trust in the kindness of others, and an exercise of hope. After struggling for over 3 hours a black hatch-back pulled over. A scruffy looking man with a with the nub of a cigarette, leaned and opened the door. Pulling in drags of spliff he said, “Amigo, su legal fumar marijuana en Uruguay” (Friend, it’s legal to smoke Marijuana in Uruguay). No word of English but all attempts of broken Spanish from my end which didn’t really mean a thing as that drive made me realize “its not just language that connects people.”
Cabo Polonio is located on the eastern coast of Uruguay and is undoubtedly the best place to experience Nirvana. Just a smidgen of holiday cottages on the sand dunes, without electricity, water and sewerage makes this the best place to connect with nature. Cabo Polonio National Park is the name given to this hidden gem by the tourism authorities, it is 7 km away from the highway and is accessible by walking through the dunes or by hopping onto a 4×4 vehicle. The 4×4 usually costs 400 UYP for a two-way ride, but low-season fare was 200 UYP.
The village is sandwiched between the South Atlantic Ocean and Sand Dunes. One of the attractions of the hamlet is the lighthouse that gets power from the national grid and is perched right opposite to the part of the village that is home to the colony of sea lions.
After a tipsy and jolting ride, the 4X4 pulled over to the “center” of the hamlet which is home to less than 100 people. Before I could get hold of my backpack, I whipped out my camera to capture the magnificent view of the sun setting over the hamlet. The first impression of Cabo Polonio left me astounded.
“There is just this one shop in the entire village from where villagers get their daily supplies, however we have our own farm in the backyard of the house where we grow some vegetables. The hostel generates power through wind mill and obtains water from wells. I am sure this would be a unique and an unforgettable experience for you Señor” said Mauro the manager of Viejo Lobo Hostel, who got me acquainted with the hamlet on our walk from the 4×4 stop to the hostel.
I was welcomed by a German backpacker dressed like a hippie, he was engrossed in a conversation with a Tobagonian and a Mexican on how he got his dreadlocks in Jamaica. He introduced himself as Max with whom I got along right from the first interaction.
The next morning as the dark clouds unveiled the sun, Max and I took a walk towards the nearby village Barra De Valizas. The 2 hours walk was quite strenuous as the wind blew the sand from the dunes, but the strain was totally paid off once we got to the highest point of the village and rewarded our eyes with the panoramic view of the ocean and Barra De Valizas village .
Our feet throbbed with pain as we walked back to the hostel. Though the mystical beauty of Cabo Polonio did not give us any reasons to groan.
As darkness swept over the hamlet, Mauro served us with some home-made bread and stew for dinner which was probably the best meal I had eaten in weeks. Max started sweeping a plectrum across the strings of guitar while I got hold of a rattle and Nico the Mexican guy got his hands on conga. Needless to say the wondrous night got more merry as Mauro poured us some medio y medio (half dry white wine and half sparkling wine).