So after taking my time to discover Montevideo, I went east to discover the coast line, starting with Piriápolis, a city built by an alchimist called Piria. The city was initially supposed to be called Heliópolis but making fun of the ambitious projects of Piria, people started calling it after him and that is the name that survived through the years. I would have liked to visit more than I did when I was there but the weather was cold, rainy, windy,… and I spent most of my time inside. Of the three nights I spent there, I spent one in a permaculture community. Permaculture does not only mean they grow their own vegetables in an organic and sustainable way but also that 90% of what they use is natural or recycled material. Including the house itself (basically made of mud), the heating, etc. So here you have a typical middle-class lady, used to her daily hot shower and, her 4000 euro, highly comfy couch and number one fan of the many caterers of her lovely Brussels neighborhood, suddenly projected in another world. I could have had heating but as I am not used to light and take care of an open fire, I preferred not to take the risk and opted to disguise myself as an onion, putting on as many layers of clothes as I could in order not to be too cold while reading my book.
I guess these are part of the more difficult moments. Although surrounded moments before by friendly and helpful people, I was now alone, away from the comfort I am used to, shivering… and trapped with a cat who had just stolen my sandwich – and who would wake me during the night, trying to steal my biscuits too. You then start to wonder what you’re actually doing there and what you came looking for. Why alone. Why South America. But it’s a matter of settling in. Once you find your marks, you know again exactly why you’re there. And, as a matter of fact, you are there exactly for those moments. You are there because you want to overcome them.
Viktor and Naty, the couple of artists who welcomed me in the community, also travelled through Latin America for about two years on a very low budget. Therefore, they were able to give me some tips and tricks on things to see and visit and how to save money along the way, which will come in quite handy.
While staying there, I took the opportunity to visit the castel of Piria, which was close by, and to go for a walk to the top of the mount of Pan de Azúcar. Actually, “climb” would be more appropriate. Viktor had warned me: “You’d better go during the day time because there’s not really a path”. Actually, there was no path at all. Most of it looked almost like rock climbing to me! OK… I’m not the sportiest person ever either. But I made it to the top and even had some energy left to go up the gigantic cross that was there and get an astonishing view of the surroundings.