Thoughts for Today
From the real world, sublime and challenging
A place for more certain times – Punta del Este.
In uncertain times we are allowed to have those moments and times of wobble when we cannot see over the horizon of situations. What is over the other side?
To avoid the next wobble the diplomatic theory was that you do not cruise directly to the Falkland Islands from Argentina. So, we sailed back to Uraguay and Punte del Este. It was Brexit Day, Friday the 31st January, and a strange day in so many ways. We didn’t quite know what lay ahead. If you want unusual, then go to Punta del Este. The name means Eastern tip. It was smaller than expected, with a resident population of 130,000 which expands enormously during high-peak holiday times. The resort (with a heritage of a whaling industry going back one hundred and fifty years) is an hour and a half drive from Montivideo. Today it is famous for 20 miles of great beaches, restaurants, extravagant night life and even has its own Trump Tower Hotel. One side of the eastern tip is on the Atlantic coast where the surfing is particularly challenging. It is famous for the first naval battle of the Second World War – that of the River Plate and the eventual disabling of the Graf Spee at Montivideo harbour in December 1939.
Our arrival at the eastern Brava Beach revealed the concrete sculpture of a large hand emerging from the sands. Designed by the Chilean Sculptor Mario Irrarrazabel and completed in just a couple of weeks in1982 as part of a national competition. There are two theories about its meaning. One is that it is a drowning hand to warn surfers of the dangers of surfing on that side of the peninsula, and the other being the ‘Helping Hand’ of humanity. Whatever, like all prevailing sculptures it makes us think.
Here in the second picture we have the wobbly bridges of the Punta. Why? Good question. The first one built in 1965 for its novelty and for road safety to hopefully make people slow down on this busy river crossing. It became so busy a second one was built in 1998. Many come just to see the novelty bridges, originally designed not by a structural engineer, but by a builder!
We returned to the ship via the Casa Pueblo, a white house folly of the artist and architect Carlos Vilaro. His son Carlos Paez Rodriguez, at the age of 18, as a member of the Old Christians Rugby Football club team was part of an ill-fated flight in 1972 to Chile for a match. He is famous for surviving 72 days along with 15 others in the Andes, recorded in the film ‘Alive’ 1993. It is story of the extreme lengths that human beings can go to in order to survive.
Saturday was a Sea Day. The Captain of the Balmoral always gave us a 12 mid-day update about our position, projected weather, mileage and the depth of the sea. On this occasion he informed us that our Monday next destination, at West Point Island of the Falklands, would not be visited. This was because of the adverse weather conditions for a small boat transfer. He was hopeful of our landing at Port Stanley the following day…
This may account why we had over 150 passengers attend the main service on the Sunday morning all praying for a safe landing at Port Stanley!
It was a wobbly moment - would the weather be a helping hand?
Edward and Jane
Next scheduled destination – Port Stanley, Falkland Islands