Uruguay

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Flag of Uruguay Uruguay
Information
Language: Spanish
Capital: Montevideo
Population: 3,477,779
Currency: Uruguayan peso (UYU)
Hitchability: <rating country='uy' />
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<map lat='-32.6' lng='-55.5' zoom='6' view='0' height='300'/>

Uruguay is a country in South America.

More than half of Uruguay's population is concentrated in the capital of Montevideo, meaning a very low population density in the country's interior. In the Uruguayan countryside you will doubtlessly encounter some of the most laid back, friendly folks you could imagine. Humble, generous and curious about anyone passing through, it is the people rather than the geography that make travel memorable in this overlooked corner of the continent. A stable, democratic country with low levels of corruption, high levels of education, and the noticeable absence of the class division, Uruguay is often called the Switzerland of South America. Check it out. The tranquility of the countryside and the openness of the people will leave an impression on any traveler.

Uruguay is a relatively small country, so traveling from the top Northern City to Montevideo would not take much time. From Rivera (a border town with Brazil) to Montevideo is only 520 km.

As far as hitchhiking/vagabond traveling go, Uruguay's a pretty easy place to hang out. Probably about 1 in 4 cars will give you a lift (outside of Montevideo). Unfortunately there are many stretches of desolate (but pretty) highway where you'll be lucky to see 4 cars pass in an hour. Expect long waits. The coast, from Chuy to Colonia De Sacramento, is more trafficked and therefore an easier place to get a lift. The beaches aren't stunning but there are some cool towns, sand dunes, and even sea lions to be seen. Whether arriving to or departing from Montevideo, expect to use public transportation to get you into/out of town.

Many Uruguayan locals have hitchhiked through their country, and have had great experiences and good rides.

Chuy: Right after passport control you can get a ride in about 5 minutes, unfortunately rides will be short most of the time, so try to get to Uruguay early in the morning, otherwise you will be stuck on Punta del diablo or even worst Castillo.

'Montevideo' to Colonia and Gualeguaychu. Catch the Santiago Vazquez bus in downtown Montevideo Vazquez and Mercedes(not sure of the bus number though, you should ask) When you get to Santiago Vazquez cross the bridge and start hitching after the toll. If going to Gualeguaychu get off in the 2 and start hitching there. However it's strongly recommended to go to Colonia. If you're going from Colonia to Gualeguaychu hitch on the 21. Even if you will see the ugliest towns in the country and you'll get cider instead of water people are super nice.

Sleeping out

Montevideo is the only city in the country where it's not recommended to sleep on the street, in the rest of the country you can sleep rough without a care. Football stadiums are recommended. Scale a wall, watch out for night shift workers, and cozy up in a press box. Pretty luxurious. You can shower at just about any service station for a dollar or two. There is no showers in the service stations, as a matter of fact the gas stations won't let you use the toilets. Te cops can be a piss in the city. In Punta del Este the cops stopped me six times in two weeks period, but it's a great dumpster diving place, McD dump up to 40 to 60 hamburgers a night. You can camp outside the city center on the beach, but watch for groups of kids and street folks. In the summer it gets pretty packed and the the prices jump up a 100 percent. Hitchhiking is not fast. In the summer time lots of cars with the whole family but very few will stop for you. I walk most of the time, people don't care for hitchhiker much here. Maybe because the crime rate is slowly going up, or it summer or a full moon good luck. I had some luck rides on scooters on short hitch and one long on. They are a lot of fun, if a bit crazy ride

Food

Don't forget to try alfajores, a cookie-ish delicacy. Opt for homemade ones or the brand Punta Ballena. And to maximize your experience, you'll need to drink a lot of mate. For Uruguayans, yerba mate is practically a religion. Everyone carries a thermos and a mate gourd pretty much everywhere they go. "Me convidas con un mate?" is a good way to start a conversation and make a new friend. If you really wanna make friends here, point out that Uruguay advanced further in the World Cup than its two football powerhouse neighbors. And of course, Forlan is better than Messi.

Chivitos is also an excellent choice in Uruguayan food. More a fast food, Chivitos is huge flattened Sandwich, that consists of 3 to 4 kinds of Vegetables with a huge piece of meat. In towns, the Chivitos will cost around 65-80 Uruguayan Pesos, and in Montevideo or more Touristic Cities, it can range from 90 to 140 Pesos.

Like in Argentina, Uruguay is also known for their traditional Barbecues. Specially in towns like Rivera or Tacuarembó, Barbecues starts from 6 pm and meanwhile everybody drinks, sings and dance until the meat is done, which will be already 10 pm. Expect to eat huge amounts of meat, specially in towns. One of their favorites is probably the Sausage that has cheese inside it. A delicious treat !

Again, like in Argentina, the Dulce de Leche is very widely known.

Vegetarians can find pasta about anywhere for 5 dollars in restaurants, otherwise eat lots of fruits. Drink lots of water, unlike Argentina, the water for the most part is safe to drink. Dumpster diving is a dream here except in the big cities, very few people are diving. On the southern coast it even better, but watch out sometimes people dump their dearly departed pets in the dumpsters. In the big cities, you have the fast food places like Burger King and McD but more people. A good place to dive is the gas stations here the best one ANCAP and ESSO. You can find all kind of good stuff.

Personal Experience

There is very few traffic on the Uruguayan Highways, hence the fact that the entire country only has 3.5 million inhabitants. We could not hitch a single ride on that day, and so we called it a night after it started getting dark. The next day we walked and hitched, and walked and hitched...until a truck picked us up, and took us all the way to Montevideo. Which was some 490 kilometers from where we were standing. Hitchhiking in Uruguay is definitely better then Argentina. (Tony Tung) trash:Uruguay