The city of Rivera straddles on the border between Uruguay and Brazil. This leads to a quite unique border crossing which I haven’t seen so far on my trip. The center of town has two immigration offices, one for Brazil and one for Uruguay. But they are separated by 20 street blocks. Leaving Uruguay means that you “stamp out” the passport in one part of town and then go (by foot, bus or taxi) to the other part of the town for the Brazilian immigration procedure. I therefore wonder, if wandering tourists are technically considered illegal aliens in this bustling no-man’s land full of shops, entertainment and hotels. The great blog entry here is a much more detailed description of the town and border crossing process. A last minute decision made me stay in Uruguay. Rivera was having a constant sound level of police sirens and burglary systems honking through town. A bit apprehensive about entering Brazil, because of my lack of Portuguese language skills and the expensive prices, I went for the easy way out: Turn south to Tacuarembó in Uruguay.
Minas, a small town of 40’000 inhabitants, sits along the national route number 8. This is an inland road, connecting the coastal capital Montevideo to the Brazilian border in the north. Located 120 km from the capital, Minas is a laid back place, where locals hang out in restaurants around the two main parks, the Plaza Libertad and the Plaza Rivera. Upon arrival by bus from Montevideo, I boarded the shuttle to the campground Arequita (bus runs out there at 10:15h, 14:15h – except on Sat&Sun: 15:15h – and 19:30h).
Montevideo is definitely a very different capital city from most of the others I have visited so far. Aside from the port and the old town, there seem to be no tourists wandering around the other parts of the city, which also hold a number of old buildings and shady parks.
Why do I like countries carrying names starting with the letter “U”? I don’t really know, but it looks as if Uruguay is going to be Uzbekistan all over again. It’s a surprisingly interesting country.
Starting my visit in the little town of “Colonia del Sacramento” (or: simply “Colonia”), I quickly was intrigued how engaging the tree lined alleys and avenues looked. Walking the in the shadowy streets, enjoying the fresh air and savouring irresistible local specialties, such as sweet pizza (comes with mozzarella, coconut and chocolate toppings!), made me stay longer than planned.