Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hanging with the Beautiful Jet Setters in Punta Del Este

On the beach on the "brava" side of Punta Del Este
Punta Del Este is the fancy, ritzy, expensive, extravagant beach resort of the Urugayan coast.  It's where the beautiful people of the world congregate to see, be seen, and party at expensive nightclubs with ultra-expensive DJ's.  Every January.

It's November.

It's not "the season."  I was what passed for "beautiful people" on the beach of Punta Del Este.  Mainly for lack of competition.  There were not many people out and about.  It's still the off season.

Which means plenty of parking all over PDE (as us cool people call this burg).  First stop in PDE:  the Hotel Conrad:

Hotel Conrad, on the "mensa" side
This is the epicenter of the non-stop party scene that descends on PDE every January.  Which means the party does indeed stop at some point.  February.

PDE skyline, "mensa" side
Yacht harbor
I parked where us beautiful jet setters are supposed to see and be seen:  the yacht harbor.

Yacht harbor and PDE "mensa" skyline
The yachts of PDE harbor are on the "mensa" side, which does not mean "intelligent" or "smug."  It means "calm."  This is the Rio de la Plata side.  The ocean side, the surfer beach, is the "brava" side, the wild side.

So here I am hanging at the yacht harbor on the calm side of town:

Me on the "mensa" side
I decide to wander to the far southern point of Punta Del Este just to get as far south as I can.

Walking out into the ocean
Punta Del Este is the point that separates the Rio de la Plata estuary from the Atlantic Ocean.  It's also the most southerly point in Uruguay.

Getting out there as far as I can into the middle of the sea
They do have that little cement walkway to get more out there.

Well, not as far out into the sea as that boat or that island
Lots of small shells right at the water's edge, but not a sandy beach at the place that puts the "punta" in Punta Del Este.
Pulling mussels from a shell
I'm guessing the little black shells are mussels of some sort.  Too small for human consumption.  The beaches are on the sides of the peninsula, which I guess is why the actual "punta" is not developed.  It's great for walking the walk, but there's no place to lay out on a towel.

At the farthest south on he globe I've ever been
I finally reach my goal:

Weird kind of mermaids kind of stauary at the far southern point of PDE
The farthest south I've ever been in my life.  So if I ever fill out that internet questionnaire like I did a few years ago, where someone asked me to name the farthest north (Tofino, B.C. Canada), farthest west (same), farthest east (Miskolc-Tapolca, Hungary) and farthest south I've ever been, I have a new farthest south:  Punta Del Este.  Unless I ever get around to taking that vacation in Torres Del Paine in Chilean Patagonian (which made the final four in the cookie jar pickings), PDE is likely to stay at #1 farthest south for quite some time.

Goal achieved, it was now time to wander PDE:

This fine-looking home was for sale.  Should I put down a bid?
Nuestra Senora de Candelaria (Our Lady of Candlemas) church
This was a small neighborhood of low-rise homes, on the little hill separating the "brava" from the "mensa."

Nuesta Senora de Candelaria, next door to the local lighthouse

Bell scuplture on church lawn, along with one of the many well-kept stray dogs of PDE
The lighthouse seemed to me to be a little far inland to be of any practical value, but what do I know.  I'm not a mariner.

Lighthouse
I did see some interesting wildlife, such as these green birds.

Cleverly disguised by being the same color as the lawn
At first I thought these were some sort of parrot, since those are the only lime green birds with which I was previously familiar.  But they weren't parrots.  Too far away from the tropics.  They're just lime green birds.

I then happened upon this fellow hanging out at the yacht harbor:

You never know who'll meet hanging with the beautiful people at the Punta Del Este yacht harbor
Actually, I don't think this was a "fellow" at all.  From my internet research, where all information is always accurate including but not limited to this, I think he is a she, a female elephant seal:

No shy elephant seals these
(Only one person is going to get that joke reference)
She either was a ham, posing for all those pictures, or just oblivious.  Let's get a little closer.

All right Mr. De Mille.  I'm ready for my close up.
So very nice that I figured out how to use the zoom feature on my camera.

Let's head back over to where the action is, the "brava" side:

Riding a bull.  Prone and naked.   Ah, life on the "brava" side
This is "beachier" side of PDE.  Case in point:

La playa de Punta Del Este
A nice wide clean carpet of sand, just like a beach resort is supposed to be.

Surfer beach area, not quite the ritzy part of the "wild" side
No traffic.  Plenty of parking.  I go looking for the signature photo op in all of PDE:

The giant hand of Punta Del Este
 Monumento Los Dedos, which translates to "Monument of the Fingers," also known as Monumento al Ahogado, which translates to "Monument to the Ahogado," not sure where the "ahogado" comes from.  The famous giant hand of the Punta Del Este beach.

I'm crushing your buildings
This is obviously the single most popular photo spot in all of Punta Del Este.

Everyone's a photographer's model at the Giant Hand
And just in time for the sun to break free.

He's got the whole world / In his hands / He's got the whole wide world / In his hand
It was getting close to 1:00PM Uruguay time.  That meant that the Uruguay/Jordan last chance World Cup qualifier was about to begin.  Get thee to a TV!  I wandered into a pizzeria, Il Mondo della Pizza, which I think is an Uruguayan chain.  I just stood off to the side.  Eventually I took a seat.  They asked me once if I wanted to order anything, I said no.  And they let me sit there and watch!  Because it was Uruguayan playing an extremely important World Cup qualifier.

It was great to watch.  The mood was definitely nervous for the first 20 minutes, especially when Jodan nearly scored a goal at the 18-minute point.  When Maxi Pereira scored at the 22nd minute, the place erupted, but the mood quickly returned to "apprehensive."  The place relaxed when Uruguay got the second goal.  Uruguay eventually won 5-0, so the crowd stayed happy from that point on.

Time to leave Punta Del Este.  My next bed is in La Paloma.

Scupltures a-plenty near the Giant Hand.  I'm guessing this is a take on the human-faced sun on the Uruguayan flag.

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