Posted by: Jena Davison | October 16, 2009

I Could Definitely Get Used to Living Here

These past few days in Punta del Diablo have been wonderful. I have always thought of myself as a city girl, but I am starting to realize how much I enjoy leading a life in a quieter, more relaxed place. Punta del Diablo is a village where there are no street signs, no ATMs and no regard for time or day of the week. Sunrise and sunset dictate day and night, not the ticks of seconds on a watch. Wild dogs roam the dirt roads freely in packs, but loyally return to their homes and families without any need for leashes or cages. In Spanish, Punta del Diablo means ¨Devil’s Point,¨ but I consider it to be truly angelic place.

Punta del Diablo is a destination somewhat off the beaten path, especially in the off-season. Therefore, everyone that has come through the hostel has been awesome since they had a desire to come here in the first place. I have made it a point to have a conversation with every single person who has stayed here. And luckily, I have gotten a lot of great advice from other travelers and have made connections and exchanged emails with people who are going on similar routes as myself in the hopes of meeting up on the road possibly. Everyone has an interesting story to tell, and that is my favorite part of working at a hostel.

There was Marty, an upbeat Aussie who has been to 83 countries; Gonchi, a reserved Bolivian who I will most likely meet up with in his home country; and Matt, an American from Kentucky who is now working for Chevron in Nigeria, amongst others. Right now there is a Polish couple, a German couple, some Aussies, a Brit, an American and a guy from New Zealand all staying here. Many of the people I have talked to are traveling long-term, many are even in the process of traveling the whole world.

El Diablo Tranquilo is a very social, open hostel so every night most people gather around the fireplace downstairs or on the terrace upstairs and mingle, drink, play guitar and play board games. This makes it easier to meet everyone. The other night, we also had the privilege of watching the Uruguay-Argentina World Cup qualifiying game in a local bar, which was really the back of a Urguayan family’s house. It was cool meeting locals and speaking Spanish and having such an authentic experience like that. We met this Canadian-Uruguayan family there who go back and forth between Canada and Punta del Diablo. They had just returned from a seven-month trip driving from Canada to Uruguay in their straight-out-of-the-movies 1970s Volkswagen van, and had made stops in Mexico, El Salvador and other countries on the way down. They were such a cute, hippie family.

The locals were very nice and accommodating, however, we have been warned that they are not particularly fond of gringos. They feel as if we, Americans working in Punta del Diablo, are taking away from local jobs and corrupting their little paradise. I think that is a valid viewpoint to have, but they should be open to actually knowing us before they make such sweeping judgment calls about our motives for coming here.

These past two days we have spent helping to clean the bar and restaurant, which is currently under construction. It has been a lot of busy, manual labor, but it was a good bonding experience. Plus, we can’t really complain because every time we look up from our work, we see a breathtaking view of sand and water in front of us. The other day, Kerry, Julie, Mausner and two American guests who were staying at the hostel and who had rented a car to drive here from Montevideo, went to Chuy. Chuy is a border town between Brazil and Uruguay that is about 30 minutes away from PDD. It was nothing too exciting in terms of things to do there or appearance, but it was cool to straddle two countries at the same time. One side of the street is literally in Uruguay and people speak Spanish and then the other is in Brazil and people speak Portuguese. There are a bunch of duty-free shops there so we can run there to pick up essentials if need be. But I doubt I will need all too much leading this simple day-to-day life.

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