The Astounding Travel Adventures of a Miraculous Fellow


The Land of Normalcy
October 9, 2008, 5:59 am
Filed under: Uruguay

A message brought to you by the Uruguayan Tourist Board:

“Uruguay — Come Visit Us, We’re Really Normal.”

Come for the Sunsets, and Have a Wildly Average Stay!

Come for the Sunsets, and Have a Wildly Average Stay!

Imagine walking into a 31,000 Flavors ice cream megastore, surveying the mouth-watering options such as “Cherry Detonation,” “Chocolate Underpants,” and “Strawberry Sex Offender,” and deciding to order sugar-free, flavor-reduced, vanilla sorbet.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  It just means you would love Uruguay.

After taking the hour-long ferry from Buenos Aires to Colonia, Uruguay at 8AM, we quickly realized that a day and a half might have been a little too much in this lovely little (and I mean little) town.  By 8:05AM, we had wandered around, checked into our hostel, and pretty much seen just about all of this lovely little (and I mean little) town.

So, we decided to do what any good tourist would do, and head over to the tourist information offices to see what they could recommend.  There wasn’t much.  They informed us about the beach (although it was far too cold to enjoy), the old church, a place to rent scooters, and gave us a map.  Now, literally, this town could be quickly and easily be fluently traversed by a blind man, sans seeing-eye dog, within 10-12 seconds — so a map seemed like overkill.  However, we had already been given a map at the hostel and the scooter-rental store.  Thus, with little to do, your imagination begins to work overtime to prevent yourself from doing what normal people in normal towns like this do — i.e. Shooting Rampage — and we started playing a fun game called “Collect the Map.”

You Toucha My Ride, I Breaka You Face

You Toucha My Ride, I Breaka Your Face

This game is rather simplistic: you collect maps, which are given to you at every place in town — gas stations, hotels, restaurants, brothels, map stores, and even the offices of TOAM (The Organization to Abolish Maps) — and the person who collects the most wins.  The final results were close: Ben 7; Eric 6; and, introducing, The 2008 Map Collecting Champion of Colonia, Uruguay — with 10 maps collected! — Yeeeeeeeeff Wheeeeeeelaaaaand!

On our way out of the tourist office, the gentleman we were speaking to, as a horrifically nonchalant afterthought, mentioned that we could also visit The Pirate Museum.  Now you’re talking, my map-loving friend!

So, the three of us attempted to rent scooters, but we thwarted when Ben did not have a driver’s license.  I mean, Heaven forbid a person would ride one of these Powerful Beasts approaching speeds of nearly 20 (!) mph, without a driver’s license!  In all honesty, my niece could drive (and most likely get bored of) one of these great machines within minutes.  And she’s four years old.  However, these Uruguayans love their rules, and told us we were unable to rent another scooter.  But, as an alternative, they said we could rent a “buggy”.

When they intoduced us to this “buggy,” we were intrigued.  It had three gear shifters, a roll bar (in case, we imagined, you flipped this monster while doing 95 mph while ditching the cops that were chasing you), and its compact size managed to contain two thrill-seeking seats from which to enjoy the wind blazing through your hair as you shredded the pavement in exhilaration.  Also, it was named “The Raptor.”

So we rented it.

The Raptor aka Bitchmobile

The Raptor aka Bitchmobile

However, upon inserting the key, bracing myself, and flooring the gas, this “buggy” showed its true colors.  As it putted out of the starting gates, it turned out to be nothing more than a fancy-pantsed go-kart with a three gear shifters that were nothing more than mere decoration, a roll bar (in case you wanted to hang your wet laundry on top to get some breeze to dry them) and two seats which meant that it had that to expend that much more power to reach its mystifying 20 kilometers per hour.  “The Raptor” my ass.  More like, “The Craptor.”  Snap.  Oh well, at least there was still a pirate museum.

After collect three more maps while zooming down the road at 15 kph, we concluded the long journey of 5 kilometers nine hours later, and reached The Pirate Museum.

Walking up to the entrance of this spectacle, you are greeted by three giant, swashbuckling pirate statues that seemed to menacingly growl “Yar, get back in yer fancy mini-kart and return to the land from whence ye came.  Unless ye be suffering from enough scurvy to dare plunder yer pockets for 150 Uruguayan pesos to enter this dump.  Yar.”

Shiver Me Timbers!

Shiver Me Timbers!

And suffering from scurvy we must have been, Mr. Pirate.  So we entered.

After entering, we realized just how sweet this place was.  The first thing that you encountered was a paper maché pirate with cardboard tubes that served as arms with no elbows, and socks attached to the tube which served as hands, and a sign above that said “Barbanegra” (Blackbeard).

The Murderous Pirate "Captain No-Elbow Glovehands"

The Murderous Pirate "Captain No-Elbow Glovehands"

So cheesy.  Yet so f’ing funny.  As we wandered around this “museum” we noticed and array of really “cool” “artifacts” such as fake gold coins that could have been on a fake pirate ship in fake 1647, a small model of a wooden ship in a room that was bumping European techno music (which, we all know, regaled pirates for so many years in the 15th century), many more pirate statues made of paper maché, and a tribute to the most famous and bloodthirsty pirate that ever sailed the seven seas: Jacque Cousteau.  Finally, we were treated to a tour of the replica pirate ship, with all of its hilarious assortment of paper maché scalawags, deckswabbers, cutthroats, and ruffians.

So, after declaring The Magnificent Pirate Museum of Colonia the “World’s Funniest Place” we hopped onto our scooters and go-kart, and sped away at a turtle’s pace.  At this time I luckily discovered that, where the go-kart was greatly lacking in death-defying speed, it compensated in two other categories: the ability to turn on a Uruguayan dime, and the ability to slide-stop when slamming the brakes as hard as possible.  This made life a little more fun…for about 15 minutes.

Now that we were officially out of things to do, so we engaged in the activity that most bored groups of young people engage in — drinking beer.  Then, suddenly, an idea blossomed out of the fermentation of the urine-flavored Quilmes beer, like a mushroom out of cattle dung: we would…drive our scooter and go-kart around some more. 

It wasn’t much of an idea, but it was a lot more fun after a couple beers.  Now, some of you might be thinking: “That seems like a dangerous plan.”  Well, you would be correct in this assumption in most regular countries, but this was Colonia, Uruguay, and there were a grand total of three cars and twelve scooters in town, and we had seen none of them.  So, we just drove up and down the streets of Colonia, blazing new paths and raising Heck in our mean machines.  We even managed to pass a BMW on our way home (although I think there was no one driving it…and it was rolling backwards down a hill), all the while honking and rubbing in the fact that they were just passed by a go-kart.

The Creepiest Pirate in History

The Creepiest Pirate in History

So, the next day we arrived at the ferry station nine hours early, just to make sure we wouldn’t get trapped in this wonderland that even Jerry Mathers would find dull.  And like the paper maché pirates of yesteryear, we departed Colonia, Uruguay praying to never return.

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