December 17 Punta Del Este, Uruguay
We grabbed a local tour here. It took us about an hour to find one that was in English. We saw beautiful seascapes, beaches, tourist high rise apartments, etc. Our guide was quite worried that the beaches were so empty during this week before Christmas. People all over the world are feeling the economy crunch. We had our pictures taken with a famous giant hand sculpture and passed over a small bridge that went up- then- down- then- up- then- down, a very power design according to a German engineer on our tour. .
We proceeded to the coast line, then to a very unique structure called Casa Puebla. This structure was home, museum, etc. built by hand by the artist owner, Carlos Paez Vilaro. He is famous world wide for his colorful murals. the building was a stucco structure of over 30 rooms with a bit of mid-eastern flavor, white arches, and onion turrets. Inside was bright modern type art and unique metal salvage-type sculpture (pipes and findings, etc.) . On one wall was a picture of the artist with Pablo Picasso. You could see Picasso’s influence in this artists paintings. When we arrived back at the bus, we found out that the artist had been in the museum and our fellow bus-mates had gotten their pictures taken with him. (Where were we???)
December 18 Mostly at sea. We stopped for a short time at Imbituba, Brazil for government officials to board the ship and check credentials of the all crew etc. No one was allowed to leave the ship.
December 19 Saturday Porto Belo, Brazil
Our last real ship stop before the end of the cruise. We were finally back in the land of warm sunshine (Punta Del Este, was ok, too) Sunshine warm enough to spend the day at the beach. Greg and I went ashore and caught a boat-taxi to a small island. We walked to small eco museum then Greg changed into his swimsuit and spent a relaxing time swimming in the bay area. I relaxed on a café deck and watched him from there. I had my first opportunity to use my Portuguese to buy Cheetos. Generally I had to point and grunt, but it worked. I learned the numbers to ten and how to ask how much something cost so I could buy food. (Plus everyone seems to be able to take your money in any language.) Note: Many places and people, especially taxi drivers and marketplaces near the pier, will take US dollars, but we were usually able to get some of the local currency and it was a little cheaper to use since not everyone carried small bills and coins to give you change.