After a hectic week in Buenos Aires figuring out the details of shipping our car and ourselves back to the United States, we were ready to hit the road again. We have three weeks to explore Uruguay and will divide our time between hot springs, a working ranch, and the beach. First stop, camping at the Guaviyu hot springs in Western Uruguay. We wouldn't be exactly roughing it, as many campgrounds in this southern part of South America have Wifi, electrical outlets, hot showers, restaurants, parillas (grills) and/or swimming pools. Uruguayans take their camping seriously and raise camping to a higher art form. When we rolled in to Guaviyu, some people were watching TV in tents just a little smaller than a San Francisco studio apartment. Gangs of lime-green parakeets flitted from tree to tree squawking enthusiastically. We popped up our camper and chilled out for a sunny afternoon reading in the shade and trying to remember how to play Poker.
After a spectacular sun-rise thunderstrorm, the next day we explored the huge complex of swimming pools filled with naturally heated 37C/98F mineral water. Talking with a grill-meister working in one of the restaurants near the hot springs, he asked us where we were from and how we liked Uruguay. When Chris responded that he liked how 'tranquilo' Uruguay seemed, he replied 'Si, es muy MUY tranquilo aqui' (Yes, it's very VERY laid back here). And he's right - between the kids splashing in the warm water, the families sitting around talking for hours, and the groups of bathrobe-clad adults wandering around with their maté gourds and thermoses, this place exudes tranquilo. We quickly fell under the tranquilo spell and somehow five days slipped by effortlessly. We head north-east tomorrow to spend four nights on a working ranch, trying to get to know the life of the gaucho (cowboy).