Monday, December 5, 2011

Colonia del Sacramento

December 4-5, 2011
Today we write from Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay. It only took one short hour on the Buquebus boat to cross the Rio Plata to travel from Buenos Aires to this quaint old town that is a World Heritage site. After we settled into the beautiful Radisson hotel, we strolled through the ancient cobbled streets to the old part of town. There were inviting restaurants with outdoor seating lining the plaza and stone buildings alongside narrow streets. We chose the Santa Rita that overlooked the Rio Plata with a table set under a giant palm tree. We had the perfect spot for people and car watching. We saw several old antique cars today. You see, cars do not easily die in Uruguay. Vehicles that would be considered scrap anywhere else in the world are needed here for transportation. We learned that new cars can cost more than a house due to government import tax policies. Economic decline and government policies that include high excise taxes, customs duty, luxury taxes, supercharges for any new car purchase made it impossible for the 99% to buy a new car. So as in Cuba a car is repaired and maintained to last as long as possible. As a result there are lots of cool antique cars that have been lovingly refurbished in this little town. We even found a couple of 60-80 year old cars marking the entrance to the aquarium and a restaurant. One was parked permanently and turned into a flower planter. After a late lunch, our afternoon was spent lounging around the beautiful swimming pool and patio with Kindles in hand. Quite frankly, much as we love Buenos Aires, it has been nice to take a break from the city.

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