Our final destination in Uruguay was the city of Colonia del Sacramento (referred to by locals simply as “Colonia”). We were offered a ride,1 so we packed our gear, hopped aboard El Capitán’s auto and took the scenic route up the coast.
Colonia sits upon a peninsula on the Rio de la Plata, 180 kilometers northwest of Montevideo. It is the closest major port to the mouth of the Uruguay River (which separates Argentina and Uruguay/Brazil) and on a clear day you can make out the Buenos Aires skyline from the Colonia shore.
Founded in 1680 by Portugal, the colony was almost immediately disputed by the Spanish empire, who had settled on the opposite bank of the river at Buenos Aires. Naturally, the Spaniards sailed across the Rio de la Plata and conquered the strategically valuable colony. This was short-lived, however: the next year, the colony was handed back to Portugal under the terms of the Treaty of Lisbon (between Spain and Portugal). And thus commenced a series of back and forths that lasted until Uruguayo independence in 1828.
If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering, “who the heck is Liga Federal?”… Well, from 1811-1817, Colonia was under the jurisdiction of Liga Federal (english: the Federal League). The Liga Federal was an alliance of provinces in what is now Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil that aimed to establish a confederal organization of South American democracies (similar to the then-recently formed United States of America).
The Liga Federal revolted against the Spanish crown in 1811, inspired and led by this dude, José Gervasio Artigas.
Due to regional fracturing (notably, between Artigas and the government of Buenos Aires) and subsequent civil war, the Liga Federal was short-lived. In 1820, Portugal (presumably fearing that their Brazilian colonies would soon be infected by the idea of independence) defeated Artigas and conquered modern day Uruguay, putting an end to the Liga Federal. Sad Panda.
A Vacation from the
We were excited to spend Cat’s birthday2 in Colonia. As an added bonus, as a birthday gift some amazing folks back home shouted us three nights at a hotel! Now, as much as we love our tent and the great outdoors, we were super amped to stay at the very chic boutique hotel, El Posada Capullo.
The hotel3 is cozy, cute and located in Colonia’s Barrio Histórico (historic quarter). Barrio Histórico is designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and retains the irregular, terrain-fitting street plan originally constructed by the Portuguese.
The next three days were spent wandering the cobblestone streets, lounging under shady trees alongside the river and soaking up the charm of Colonia.
Oops, almost forgot to mention the birds. Colonia is home to many of them. Seriously, birds on birds on birds.
Chau, Uruguay 🙁
Tomorrow we say chau to Uruguay and head across the Rio de la Plata to Buenos Aires. The ferry ride is approx. one hour and 15 minutes; tickets cost us ~ $35 USD per person. We were also informed that bringing our fully loaded steeds aboard wouldn’t be a problem. Fingers crossed.
Our time in Uruguay has been amazing. The laid back atmosphere, beautiful landscapes, and stunning beaches are wonderful; yet, what really makes Uruguay so special is it’s people: smiling,4 helpful, and patient – we felt the love from day numero uno.
Chau Uruguay – te amamos.