It has been almost four and a half months for Matt and I since we started our year long travel through South America. We have backpacked through four countries and have been constantly moving since we first started on March 11, 2017. It has been one hell of an adventure but we were ready to take a break from the road and find a place to call home for a few weeks. Through the website Workaway where we previously found one job before in Valpariso, Chile we were ready to find another one anywhere in Argentina or Uruguay. After applying to over twenty different postings we finally got accepted to work at a hostel 25 hours a week, 5 hour shifts 5 days per weeks at a place called Buenas Vibras in Montevideo, Uruguay. If you translate the hostel name to english it means Good Vibes and that place lived up to its name.
Arriving to Montevideo from Buenos Aires it is quite easy and only takes a few hours! I would recommend using the website Colonia Express and it cost around $40 USD one way. To get there with this company it will take you by ferry to Uruguay and then you will transfer onto a bus that will take you all the way to Montevideo. You will get dropped off at the main bus station called Tres Cruces which is also a shopping center and then it was an easy twenty five minute walk to our hostel. As soon as we arrived and dropped our bags off into the staff room we knew we made the right decision to come. The two owners Matias and Andres made us feel at home and there were already three other staff working there as well (two of them found the job from Workaway also). In total we stayed for seven weeks and in the end it was a bit hard to even leave.
Uruguay is a very small country. The population is only around six million people and half that population lives in Montevideo. There are twice as many cows than people and you can see that reflected by all the meat sold everywhere and all of the famous asados (or barbeques) that happen at every family home. As a girl that has been slowly trying to eat less meat that was almost impossible by all the amazing meat dishes served here. But fortunately there are also a lot of ferias or ``street markets`` here found in different locations multiple times a week to get all of the fruit and vegetables you need to have a balanced diet. Ask your hostel receptionist to help point you out where the ferias are but we were able to go to a different feria about three to four times a week to stock up on food and just to enjoy a nice walk around. In these markets you can not barter prices for food as it is a sign of disrespect so don't even bother. The Saturday market is located at Parque Punta Carretas and the hours are around 10am to 3pm and they have fruit, vegetables, cheese, meat and all types of clothing sold there. Now if you think the Saturday market is huge get ready for triple the amount of vendors at the Sunday market called Feria De Tristan Narvaja. The Sunday Feria has the best street food and the most random things you could think of sold there. I think out of the seven weeks of living here I only missed one time of going to it.
Montevideo and Uruguay in general is a much better place to visit in the summer. With most of the highlighted places to visit being beach towns including Montevideo it was quite a different atmosphere in the winter. I liked it because it meant less tourists around but still a great place to visit especially if you are already in Brazil or Argentina. I would spend almost everyday walking up and down the beach since it was a ten minute walk from the hostel and if you walk down far enough you can find the famous huge Montevideo sign that is a perfect place to be during sunset. If it isn't raining you will see locals all along the beach sharing the traditional mate tea between friends and smoking weed. Oh yeah, weed is completely legal in this country. It is common to walk down any street and smell fresh bread from the many bakeries around and the distinct smell of marijuana. The drawback though is that it isn't legal for foreigners but I have met many travelers that have still been able to get weed by going to one of the many grow shops to buy some. Not only is weed legal here but so is abortion and they have an extremely high atheist population. This country is progressive and the way of life here is slow and non stressful and you can see that reflected by all the smiles on locals faces and how kind people are. Another bonus for traveling here is that credit cards and debit cards are widely accepted! Not only accepted but encouraged and most restaurants will give you 20% off your bill for using it. WHAT A SCORE!
This city is a walking town since it isn't that big. You can spend your day walking downtown on the main street of Bulevar Espana that turns into Ave 18 de Julio. From there you need to stop at the town hall where you can take the elevator to the top and get a free panoramic view of the city! When you walk down the main road you will see two small plazas before ending up at Plaza Independencia. At the plaza twice a day in the morning and afternoon you can find a free walking tour to do and afterwards get a coffee at the oldest coffee shop in Montevideo called Cafe Brasilero. You will notice next to the Plaza that on the opposite side of where you arrived is the old city where you can find tons of shops and museums to explore. When you are done exploring downtown walk back up on the rambla (that is the stretch of road along the beach) and end up at the biggest park in the city called Parque Rodo. I know it might not seem like there is a ton to do in this city but trust me once you arrive here your two day visit will turn into five days without even realizing it. We were only meant to stay four weeks and ended up staying three weeks longer because of how comfortable we were there. We couldn't have been happier with our workaway and our time at Buenas Vibras. I got to practice my spanish and learn what it takes to run a successful hostel. Make sure when you visit to stay at this hostel and tell them Maria recommended you!
5) Rainbow Mountain, Cusco, Sacred Valley
6) Machu Pichu
1) Copacabana and Isla Del Sol
2) La Paz
1) San Pedro De Atacama
4) La Serena
5) Puerto Iquazu
6) Buenos Aires