After making breakfast we headed down the road to the Carlos Gardel museum. Carlos Gardel is possible the most famous name attached to tango, famous enough to have three countries trying to claim ownership. Uruguay claims that he was born there (The French do not agree with this) and the Gardel museum in Valle Eden is a homage to dodgy photographs “proving” that he was indeed from this very area.
Not knowing much about this dispute, apart from what is on Wikipedia, Uruguay does seem to do the best job at having some documents, news clippings and photographs…even if they could all be utter bollocks.
The museum is probably only worth a look if you have an interest in tango. No doubt most of the stuff on display had never been within 100 metres of Gardel, but it does have reproductions of his movie stills.
After looking through, we drove further down the road to find a suitable water hole to go for a swim. This region of Uruguay is incredibly picturesque and you are never too far from a river or stream. I could imagine it would be lovely to stay in the local pousada for a couple of days and walk around or organise some horse riding or bike riding.
After having a quick dip we got back into the hot car to drive further west toward Paysandu. It became clear at this stage that the Garmin had no idea what road we were on or even the state capitals. Luckily we had a free map that came with the great accomodation guide we were given by the car rental agency.
The countryside was usually flat, covered with farms and small towns, which quite often were populated by identical houses in very straight rows. I would tell you what the crops consisted of, had I known what I was looking at. All I knew is there were many landscapes which reminded me of the old Win 98 desktop. We saw many real gauchos (cowboys) in the full kit and caboodle, usually with horses apart from the one poor bugger who was on a bicycle (his horse must have broken down) on the highway in the full heat of the day.
Once we ate lunch in Paysandu (late as usual and it took a long time to find) we headed north toward Salto. Frank had heard of the hot springs and this was one of the few things that he specified he wanted to do.
There are a number of thermal springs “termas” in this region and we chose Termas de Dayman. It seemed to be a tourist destination which means that accomodation is a lot more expensive and that the streets are lined with foreign cars. It was scorching hot and on the way we had decided we were going to chicken out on the camping for a night and rent a room with airconditioning and wifi. No such luck at the first place that sounded like a dream (apartment with only cooking facilities, pool, aircon, wifi) so we had a look around until the heat go the better of me and we headed down to the local river for a paddle.
After my brain cooled a little we continued our search until we found a room at the overpriced and slightly ridiculous looking Casablanca. Our dark little hovel did have the benefits of a fridge, aircon, cable and weak wifi but they were slightly offset by the fact the bathroom smelt suspicious and the ceiling had so much water damage it was about to fall in (possibly where the smell was coming from).
That night we stayed in and basked in the coolness and the next morning were unwhelmed by the continental breakfast of sad looking croissants. It had already become quite warm and Frank was of the opinion that the hot springs were not of any use in the heat. I suggested that we had come this far, and that we should just do it.
Whew. Hot! It’s fairly cheap to get into the thermals (I think it was about $8 for the two of us) and there are more pools than you can poke a stick at. Everyone is required to have a shower before entering the pools as they are not clorinated and it was at that point I realised that perhaps it was indeed too hot to be at the thermals.
Most of the pools helpfully had signs telling you the depth and the average temperature so you knew whether it was a 36 degree or 40 degree pool. Most were way too hot for us and the only pool that was cold (read 35 degrees) was shut to the public. Luckily an old dude decided to take matters into his own hands and jumped in followed by just about everyone else there.
Forty minutes later the pool was becoming clogged with hair and god knows what else so jumped out and headed to the car. Frank realised at this point that he couldn’t find the car keys. Shit. That’s where the computer, our passports, the cameras…everything was.
Nothing had been handed in. Shit. Maybe they were locked in the car? They weren’t. They were hanging out of the front door lock on the outside of the car and had been there for two hours. Phew. Couldn’t do that in Brazil!