Monday, January 30, 2023
Our guide spoke English well and she had a lot of information about Uruguay in general and Punta del Este in particular. She confirmed that it is a resort and vacation town. It looked a lot like Ft. Lauderdale to me.
Our first stop was the lighthouse. We were not allowed to go inside but it was impressive. She said that the lighthouse was built in 1860 using various materials, including volcanic soil brought from Rome. It still serves to navigate sailors passing between the ocean and river. The light, which has a reach of 8.8 nautical miles (16 kilometers). At night, watch as the light emits two flashes at intervals of eight seconds.
We could also walk across the street and view the Candelaria Church. We were allowed inside it. We did what we always do when allowed to visit a church. Make a small donation and sit down for a moment of thanks. The guide said it was inaugurated in the early 1900s and honors the Virgin of Candelaria. It is one of the town’s most important places of worship. The present-day Candelaria Church is the result of an expansion in 1941 using money donated by 100 of the area’s most affluent local families.
We went by a few of the local beaches. Some of the beaches were for surfing and others were for swimming.
It was at one of these beaches that we saw the famous sculpture – The Hand. According to Wikipedia, La Mano (The Hand) is a sculpture by Chilean artist Mario Irarrazabal. It depicts five human fingers partially emerging from sand. It is also known as Los Dedos (The Fingers) and Hombre emergiendo a la vida (Man Emerging into Life). It has become a symbol for Punta del Este since its completion in February 1982 and in turn has become one of Uruguay’s most recognizable landmarks.
The area was so crowded I could not get a photo of the entire hand. There was also other artwork around the area.
On our way to and from the Beverly Hills area to look at the fancy homes we passed over the wavy bridge. Kind of disconcerting that it was created and built by an artist and not an engineer.
We stopped by the museum but didn’t really have enough time to go through it.
Our next stop was the Hotel Casapueblo. According to the guide, the hotel began to be built in 1958 by Carlos Páez Vilaró as his residence and art studio.
Casapueblo was designed with a style that can be compared to the houses on the Mediterranean coast of Santorini. The building, which took 36 years to complete, has thirteen floors with terraces that allow an optimal view of the sunset over the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
The building was built of whitewashed cement and stucco. It was built in an artisanal way and without previous plans, in the form of a maze, does not have straight lines inside and the color white predominates. It was expanded and modified from year to year as a residence in unpredictable ways.
It houses a tribute to Carlos Miguel, the artist’s son and one of the sixteen Uruguayan survivors of the of flight 571 of the Uruguayan Air Force plane crash, which crashed in the Andes on October 13, 1972.
Now, in addition to hotel rooms, the building includes a museum, an art gallery, and a cafeteria.
Chuck found another hat that he really liked from one of the vendors near the hotel.
After the visit to the hotel, we headed back to the pier. The tour was a good overview of Punta del Este.
There was one thing I did notice about the tour company. Unlike the HAL tour guides who counted every person on the bus after every stop, this guide told us when to be back on the bus and at that time, the bus started rolling. No headcount. We almost left two people at the hotel stop. Luckily, the bus had to turn around in the hotel parking lot, so we picked them up on the way out. They were running.
Once we got back to the pier, we took the tender back to the ship. I was hungry but I didn’t run to the Lido. Tonight is dinner at the Canaletto again. Yay!