Wednesday February 9th – 9:40pm – halfway between Montevideo & Salta (western Uruguay)

I'm sitting on a pillow like, reclining coach seat looking out at complete darkness, with not a light in sight in the countryside of mid-western Uruguay.

After arriving in Montevideo we planned to spend the day wandering the town before heading further east up the coast to the beaches of Punta del Diablo. So we headed off down the main shopping & pedestrian street. We go all the way down into the old city, out to where the brown delta waters are splashing over the pier. Walking back up the ramshackle streets of the tip of the city, we encounter south American street crime when a handbag is snatched from behind by somebody creeping up behind us and obviously cutting the bag strap before sprinting back down the street. He's gone around a corner & disappeared before we had a chance to realise what's happened. Nothing disastrous lost but several months of my traveling companions photos along with a sum of cash and the camera are gone. Two local women who witnessed the crime both come to our assistance. One being angry at the very fact that this kind of crime is going on in her barrio. He other helps by bringing us to the local police station where we get to experience the famous laid back south American attitude, and it's at least an hour before report is taken. Travel insurance later informs that virtually nothing will be given for a 2 year old camera and a small some of cash. So insurance company & thief both come out of the situation rather well.

We spend the rest of the afternoon being very cautious with our belongings but nobody was hurt and nothing too hard to replace lost. It does remind me why I have brought three backup hard drives & why I shouldn't carry valuable items into places I'm anyway nervous about. That evening, after checking the weather forecast, we do lots of planning to avoid visiting the rainy, but still warm, coastline and head straight up north to Iagazu Falls on the Argentine/Brazilian border.

So this morning we get our bus tickets, take a leisurely walk around the city centre, eating amazing olive/cheese and caprese empanadas & a crumbly alfajor in a delightfully leafy, plaza. A short wander down to the seafront , a nap, some e-mailing & skyping later we leave the 3 crosses bus station/shopping centre on the 5:40pm bus to the border town of Salto for a six hour bus journey. I've been spending the journey so far reading, eating more empanadas, snoozing, watching the green, farm filled Uruguayan countryside whizz past and writing these words and wondering what a midnight border crossing from Salto to Concordia will involve...

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