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Colonia, Uruguay

View of the Rio de la Plata, part of Colonia, and a ferry arrival

We spent a couple of days in Colonia, Uruguay, earlier this week. The official name of the small town (pop. about 20,000) on the Rio de la Plata directly across from Buenos Aires is Colonia del Sacramento, and it is the oldest town in the country of Uruguay. It is a one-hour fast ferry ride from Buenos Aires, as opposed to the capital of Uruguay, Montevideo, which is across a much wider section of the river and is a three-hour ferry ride. If I correctly understand the sign by the old wall — it was a walled city — it was founded by Portugal in 1680, a hundred years before the US Constitution appeared. It is an UNESCO World Heritage site. Here are a few more photos of the town.

View down a street to the river and arriving ferry boat

Small boat harbor in Colonia

The best part of this trip was where we spent the night. We stayed in a recently-remodeled house that had once been an atelier for an iron artist, has been converted into a guest house with three guest rooms by a painter from Buenos Aires, who lived many years in France. It is called Colonia Suites. It has one of the most distinctly creative environments I have ever experienced in a hotel or B & B, as if it was specifically designed for working artists or writers.

Part of our room at Colonia Suites

All the art is original. This is one of the most comfortable beds we have ever slept in. There is a CD player on a shelf to the left with a stack of classical CDs. There is also a TV, but what would you do with it?

The bed is left, the view is to the back garden

Below is a view of the back garden seen from the patio just beyond the window at the work table.

View of the garden from the patio of our room

There is an artist studio behind the vegetation on the right side, as well as a small table and a few chairs for taking the sun, having a drink, eating breakfast, doing some writing.

The kitchen and a member of the staff

Breakfast was coffee or tea, a bowl of fruit, baguette and toast, butter and jam, and cheese and ham. The window looks out to the rear garden as seen from our room, which was above the kitchen here.

Statue of Mao Tse Tung in our room

We also had a fantastic lunch at a French restaurant called Florida, on Florida street, of course.

More pictures from town.

Fish driving up to a fish restaurant for take out

The lighthouse from where the top picture was taken.

Lighthouse and part of the old fortress

When you live in city of more than ten million people, like Buenos Aires, which people in Uruguay describe as living in a grand opera, some Verdi spectacle, getting on a ferry and riding an hour across the river to not only another country but another pace and another time is, or ought to be, considered necessary therapy.

I would like to go back for a month and finish my book at that table, in that room, and end the day with a cocktail in the garden.

Finally, a few more photos of street scenes and one of the French restaurant mentioned above.

House in the old quarter

Street in the old quarter

entrance to the wonderful Florida restaurant

So next time you pop over to Uruguay, be sure to stay at Colonia Suites and ask for the room in back overlooking the garden, and have dinner at Florida.

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8 replies »

  1. So much color and flavor. The place looks ripe with the past and so wonderfully slow, like the last drip of chocolate.

    I shall be jealous this evening as I drive to an appointment in Dallas through the crowded, concrete highways full of belching trucks and hissing SUV’s.

    Again, wonderful pictures. Thank you.

    • I would like to go there to write the end of my book, which I finally do know how to conclude after many aborted attempts. It took me a long time to figure out, but once I did it was stupid-simple.

      Kent Haruf is saving me from a couple of grievous errors that Cormac McCarthy, that insidious bastard, influenced me into. Have you ordered Plainsong yet? I just finished the sequel Eventide, and it’s good, but I rate it less than Plainsong. Plainsong surpasses Stoner in my view because one leaves it feeling exalted about humanity. Sad and exalted. How often does that happen, really? One doesn’t feel that way after Eventide as it’s shaded more morally gray. Anyway, read em both. I’m in awe of how Haruf renders tone and achieves complexity with such simple language.

      • I am reading Plainsong now, about halfway through. He is really very good, although from time to time I get the “that’s pretentious” bell going off.

        Frankly, speaking of pretentious, I don’t see any point in breaking with the convention of setting dialogue apart from narrative, as Haruf does here. Haruf is pretty smooth with it, but still I am occasionally stopped as I wonder “who just said that?” or “is that the narrator or (blank character)?” Not setting dialogue apart has no purpose and is artifice.

        I have not finished Plainsong, so I will withhold any further comment, except to say that at this point, I think Stoner is a better novel.

        Regardless, Haruf is an impressive writer, but better if he laid off the artsy-craftsy tricks and played it straight. That’s why I think Stoner is better. There is not one bit of artifice or one single trick in Stoner.

  2. Lovely, yes indeedy. Ah, I’ll see you both at that table, save me a seat now do you hear.

  3. Nicely taken pictures. I’ve never seen Colonia look so charming, well not since I last visited anyway! Colonia Suites has just been added to my notebook pending any further visits. Thanks!

  4. One result of extensive traveling for decades is that now I have a long list of places I have no interest in visiting, and a much winnowed down list of places that still interest me.

    Colonia would be a good place to live for people (and writers) who do not need the continual and massive stimulation of a big city around them … for me it is nice for a short while, but I would be bored out of my mind rather quickly there.