Honestly, I had no real interest in the town. I wanted to get to Salto but I also didn’t want to spend ages riding from Rivera. Stopping along the way was preferable, and Tacuarembo was convenient. Well, that was one reason. The other is I got to know a pair of (secret) porn stars here in South America, and Tacuarembo was their home town. Curiosity got the better of me. I had to see it.
Tacuarembo is not a pretty town. Or a lively town. Or an exciting town. Well, I suppose parts of it are pretty, like the fountains above, but nothing outstanding or spectacular.
But then I heard about Balneareo Ipora. It’s maybe 8km away and you will know when you arrive. You don’t need a sign. Because it is absolutely beautiful. There’s a massive lake in the middle of the woods with a track around the edge for cars. Follow the track and you eventually get to a hill that overlooks everything and it is a truly gorgeous sight. I found it hard to imagine that earlier in the day I was in a dreary looking town and suddenly I’m in such a stunning location. And there was a dirt bike track just over the hill so I spent some time that afternoon enjoying bikes and bikers, not that I could use my monstrously heavy bike on a dirt bike track but still, it felt good being in a familiar environment.
I still know nothing more about the porn stars though.
Salto was a bit of an oddity for me. It came very highly recommended by others in Uruguay so I expected it to be akin to Rivera. But it was … different. It’s made up of this odd mix of old an new. There’s a portion of the town that’s really nice, around the main plaza. Then there’s the view of Rio Uruguay that serves as the border with Argentina and riding or walking along the river is very scenic at spots. Centro is pretty upbeat too. But those areas aside, it felt as though Salto was mostly forgotten. All the residential areas seemed worse for wear, and what should have been stunning parks were strewn with litter.
It felt like living in two different cities. Take a walk outside my apartment and I was in the nicer part of a ramshackle little town. But walk 10 blocks and suddenly I was in a very active CBD with a touristy river looking all pretty just down the road. But head two streets back into a residential area and it’s the ramshackle little town again.
I did go for a ride to the outskirts of the town. There was a poorly maintained dirt road not too far away and I followed it to the river where I met up with some fisherman who wanted to talk bike. Argentina was right across the river and though Uruguay had been good to me, I wanted to leave. It was time. I’d had enough of the small, flat, farming country and needed to see bigger, better sights.
I needed to head out of the country via Fray Bentos. Mercedes was a town not too far away, so that would be my final stop in Uruguay.