Above all, traveling is about seeking freedom. Nevertheless, on the road, it is not always possible. Normal challenges include buying bus tickets, searching for a place to sleep, being surrounded by a crowd of tourists using the latest model of the most expensive camera, or regular issues withdrawing money.
These daily annoyances are simply part of the traveling game, and if one can look at them lightheartedly they can add personality to your trip instead of annoyance.
Sometimes though you want to get far far away from everything…
However, that’s not to say that escaping the modern conveniences of travel is more than welcome once in a while. Nothing is better than finding a place where everyday hassles are left behind, where one can simply appreciate the present time by “going back to their roots.”
Cabo Polonio in Uruguay is one of those places that occupies a special part in every traveler’s heart, for its pure and simple connection to the times of yesteryear. It captured me and became perhaps my favorite place in South America.
While I am reluctant to share the splendors of Cabo Polonio in fear of it changing with more traffic, more so I feel it is my duty to make sure that other backpackers share in the simple joy of this amazing place.
Arriving in Cabo Polonio makes you feel like you’ve gone back in time
Located in a national park, you will need to travel by massive 4×4 truck to get there, specially adapted for the occasion. After passing through a small forest and sand dunes, an azure-blue ocean appears.
Then the drive keeps going along the beach, until eventually entering this atypical and timeless village, where a lighthouse seems to be the protector of the area’s tranquility.
If you arrive there by night, the absence of electricity will help you get straight into Cabo Polonio’s mood. Solar panels and small wind turbines – barely fixed onto tin roofs – provide minimal light inside the houses, assisted by an army of candles.
The village is surrounded by two beaches, and deciding which to visit seems to be the only decision to face during the day.
Otherwise, you can always join locals playing football, go for a meditative walk along the ocean’s playful coast, watch fat sea lions lying on rocks, buy some hippy handcrafts in the stalls located along the sandy streets, or simply relax in one of the many hammocks that your hostel offers.
If, nowadays, some people turn crazy in the absence of the Internet, there is the perfect distraction of strolling in the village. Escape your worries as you walk in front of colorful houses, sometimes decorated with beautiful paintings related to nature and peace.
A place where simply staring at the colorful dilapidated structures is a treat
At the end of the day, follow the flow and go to the south beach. Sit on the sand, listen to the sound of guitars, or take one last salty dip in the waves of the ocean as the sun goes down.
Watch the beauty of the world. Indeed, magic works here, as every day offers a beautiful sunset. It never fails to impress, seeming inversely proportional to bad weather, like an apology from mother nature.
When night comes, tiny restaurants open, where one can have dinner by candlelight. Next, the bars fill with happy tourists and generous local people (possibly one of the most magical parts of this town, serenity in its most complete form).
Many musicians provide an amazing atmosphere, eventually jamming together. If you feel like dancing, you can walk to the town’s only “club” located in the so-called bus station!
Young and old meet here to relax and get their groove on until the first light. If you are still not tired enough to sleep, sauntering to the north beach which will offer you an ocean sunrise.
Written by: Gaetan Bidaud