Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Our Trip to Minas, Uruguay: Part One

article from July 7, 2012
By Jamie Douglas

We have crisscrossed this small nation in search of affordable housing, and unfortunately had to discount our first choice, Colonia del Sacramento, clearly our favorite. Unfortunately, it has become way too costly to rent a place there, so we looked at several other options while burning up our financial resources (see the PayPal donation button to help!) and ended up back in La Paloma on the Atlantic coast, about two and a half hours from the Brazilian border and about four hours from Montevideo, all by bus, of course.

While we were in Argentina, La Paloma suffered through some of the worst tourist-seasons in its history. Many of the vacation houses that normally rent out for megabucks stayed empty as the rich Argentineans just did not come. We saw the first signs of that develop when we left Uruguay in February of 2010. Many of the owners of the seasonal rentals were sitting on their front porches of their homes waiting for the visitors, who never showed. The restaurant owners were also complaining that nobody came to eat; the tourists who did come cooked their meals in their rentals.

So we are back to the ghost town La Paloma is during the off-season, having contacted our friendly landlady from Montevideo. Once we arrived in Rocha to visit with her, we were shocked to learn that our little cave by the beach had quintupled in price. But we had no other choice than to cough up the sum, hoping we would find something more affordable away from the tourist zone that would be good for the whole year, instead of turning us into economic fugitives when the season starts again in December. So we made a plan to go to Minas, a very charming and very clean town in the sierras that serves as the capital of the department of Lavalleja.

Our timing was impeccable: We arrived during a two-day rainy period, which also came with very cold winds, but we had a beautiful third day, although it was also very cold. We looked and asked around, but in the end, we had to go see real estate vultures. We found that in order to rent, they require you to own property that you could put up as collateral plus five month’s rent for a deposit as well as first and last month’s rent – in all, seven months up front to get a one year lease, during which the parasitic real estate agents would hold your money, with uncertain guarantees that you would get your money back, or that they would even be around when the time came to get your money back. We have heard a good amount of horror stories of renters getting completely screwed out of their money, and we did not want to try that route, never mind that we would not have had any money left to put toward buying furniture and appliances.

So we had to satisfy ourselves with having a nice trip to one of our favorite towns in the country, staying at the lovely Posada Verdún , located a mere two blocks from the bus station and two blocks from the center of town. It features the fastest Wi-Fi I have ever experienced in a public location outside of Asia. The in-house restaurant is superb, featuring international cuisine, and we felt very welcomed by the friendly and caring staff. I will elaborate more about our visit to Minas in my next article, which will feature more photos as well.

All photos by Jamie Douglas

see also: Uruguay's "Secret": Minas and Our Trip to Minas, Uruguy: Part Two

Jamie Douglas
Waiting for Summer to Return to Uruguay

I encourage you to write me at cruzansailor [at] gmail [dot] com with any questions or suggestions you may have. Disclaimer: I am not in any travel-related business. My advice is based on my own experiences and is free of charge (Donations welcome). It is always my pleasure to act as a beneficial counselor to those who are seekers of the next adventure.

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