What a sunset!
"Peso a pound the lot, come on folks, peso a pound, get yer fruit'n'veg aqui, pronto!"
We headed out of Treinta y Tres for another long day's drive, this time heading south to Rocha. It looked like it had been raining hard overnight and was still overcast in the morning. On one hilly part, the clouds were so low they were covering the tops of the trees. Five minutes later we were back in sunshine.
We made good progress and before long were turning off the main road onto smaller roads. With only 50km to go, we thought we would hit town within the hour. Only problem was that the smaller road was unpaved so it made for slower going.
The landscape in this part of the country is different to anything else we've seen so far. There are proper hills with tree plantations (we think it's eucalyptus) as well as the standards of cows and sheep. We followed a sign to Cerro Catedral, marked on our map as the highest point in the country. The road here was even more rutted and bumpy but due to Stef's superb driving we only scraped the bottom of the car badly twice (once going, once coming back). The map showed the highest point at a T-junction with another small track. Hitting one junction with no signs, and not wanting to get lost, we turned back not sure if we had really reached the highest point. It didn't matter as the views we had were superb. Rounding a corner we disturbed three buzzards lunching on a squashed, dead fox.
We seem to have found a new habit: entering towns through the back end. Our first impressions of Rocha weren't great but they improved as we got closer to the centre. We found our hotel (another LP recommendation, the Trocadero) as much by luck as by design as our book has no town map for Rocha. Like most places we've seen it could do with a bit of touching up, but our room is clean and pleasant enough.
At reception we get friendly information on what to see locally and head down to the coast to a small resort called La Paloma. It's a typical beach resort and could be anywhere. It has a main street with hotels and shops (mostly closed), a lighthouse and two "sandy" bays. We stopped at a shop to buy bits for lunch and headed for a picnic on the beach. The clouds came over and the temperature dropped but it didn't deter Stef from a quick paddle in the sea - a bit cold!
Further along the coast is another small bay, La Pedrera. It was starting to get dark and misty by the time we got there but you could see this was a beautiful bay. We sat at the top of the "cliffs" and watched the sun set. The sunset was behind us but the light on the clouds in front of us was amazing. I turned round and the sky was golden, fifteen minutes later it was dark salmony pink, utterly stunning. We made noises about coming to watch the sunrise but I doubt we'll make it up that early!
Driving back to Rocha it was almost dark. In front of us were the last drabs of daylight - patches of very clear blue tinged with orange - whilst behind us it was getting darker and darker. There was a single bright star ahead of us which we reckoned was a planet (not sure which one though).
Reaching town it was hard to make out the street names. Ahead, there was a bright splash of colour, a large market stall style fruit and veg shop. We stopped to buy fruit (mainly to take photos). We lost the plot of the directions we were given to get back to our hotel. We did find it in the end but must have toured around most of Rocha in the process.
Walking through the main square that night we noticed a cinema on the corner. Not sure if there were films playing but it was somehow good to see it anyway. The square itself was calming and relaxing - big trees, a few few people - perfect spot to while away some time.