Uruguay and the Downside to Solo Travel
When I first decided upon this trip, most people seemed to have the same reaction- “you’re doing it alone? That’s brave of you!”. But I was excited; solo travel meant going wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I honestly couldn’t see what they meant at the time, but here, sitting in a deserted diner, drinking a beer alone before heading back to an empty hostel, I was starting to.
After a month in a crowded hostel in Buenos Aires, I thought I would relish time to myself. Don’t get me wrong, it was one of the best times of my life- the people themselves were wonderful, and I made some truly great friends. But, after being constantly surrounded by people, be it the guy snoring in the next bed, the guests sharing breakfast in the common room, the crowds relaxing on the grass in the plazas, or those squashed onto public transport, I was craving some space to myself.
So when I arrived at my first hostel in Uruguay to find I was the sole occupant, I was thrilled. Listening to music without headphones, turning on the light without waking anyone, or choosing what to watch on tv were pathetic little luxuries that I hadn’t realised I’d missed. But, after my day in peaceful little Colonia, and my evening in a deserted milonga in Montevideo, I was getting eager for some company. Tacuarembo was the wrong choice.
Of course, just because my hostel was empty doesn’t mean the town was devoid of life, but my fractured Spanish meant the conversations never got past polite greetings, or expressing a need (don’t judge me, I’m taking lessons once I get back to Argentina, I promise). And so my day was spent cycling through the surrounding countryside, looking up the Spanish word for “brakes” to tell the bike’s owner that they weren’t working, and sitting alone in a diner while the rest of the town seemed to have decided on an early night.
My last stop before crossing back to Argentina was Salto, to visit the Termas (hot springs) in the nearby village of Dayman. Knowing that the next day I would be in Iguazu, one of the busiest tourist destinations in Argentina, I attempted to change my point of view, relax into the bubbling hot water, and enjoy what could be my last evening alone for some time.