Uruguay: uro-guys, fatties, how much meat can you eat, package tourists
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What do you know about Uruguay? Err, probably about as much as me. Which might be because there isn't really that much to know. If you look at a South American guidebook - one divided into those reassuring country chapters, Uruguay is not part of the fat club. About the same as Paraguay and that weird chapter on those three little countriettes sat up on top of Brazil. Moreover, if it didn't have nice beaches, it would undoubtedly be slimmer still. Geographically, in a land of giants, it is somewhat smaller than the UK. Uruguayan history is likewise brief: struggle for independence (aided, nobly, by the Brits who were probably after beef, not oil); a series of varyinglyly repressive governments; democracy and, most latterly, massive economic stagnation, which has been been much exaccerbated by the collapse of its giant neigbour. Oh yes, and Homer Simpson once memorably mistook the country's name for "You are a gay"
Still, first we had to get there. Actually we'd been thinking of going through Asuncion in Paraguay but it was about 40 degrees and thundery there. And we'd also been thinking about going to Iguazu falls. But I couldn't be arsed (how's that for jaded - time to go home), although I was intrigued by US government claims that the nearby triple border area (Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil) is a hotbed of Al Queada activism. Isn't everywhere these days? Towelheads under the bed, anyone?
So we spent a couple of days in Mendoza, during which time we saw the River Plate football team swank into the Hyatt. Anywhere else, this would have been an event, but, as our waiter explained, in Mendoza, probably unique amongst South American cities, very few people give a toss about football. I knew there was a good reason I felt so at home there.
Anyway, eventually we plumped for Punta del Este, Uraguay's best known resort because a couple of people had told us it had a nice beach ...
See photographs from: Uruguay Gallery