With each of the places I’ve gotten a chance to go to over the years, I’ve been successful in getting at least some time away to experience the locations a little and do some genuine sightseeing at least -- on some occasions more than others. The trip to Dublin earlier this year, for example, was one where thanks to a little help from my friends I got out multiple times and felt like I’d gained a lot of from the experience.
The players who travel to these things face the same challenge to get out of the poker room and/or casino and see these places they’re visiting. It’s hard to do for a variety of reasons, but definitely worthwhile.
During this trip to Punta del Este I was kept busy with the tournament as usual, but as it happened I had a lot else to take care of on the side, which meant I pretty much didn’t get outside for the duration. But we ended early Tuesday night, and with the shuttle back to Montevideo not leaving until late afternoon on Wednesday, that gave my partner Will and I a chance to put in a few miles walking about and enjoying a nice, cool, clear day filled with a lot of great views.
Punte del Este is way down on the southern tip of Uruguay, a small peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic. We stayed in the Conrad located on the west side of the peninsula, the one referred to as the “Mansa” side which means “tame” (as I was talking about a couple of days ago). A short walk across the peninsula to the other side takes you to the “Brava” side, meaning “fierce.”
Indeed, we had a great view of the ocean from the hotel, and as I was describing before it really was more like a bay than an ocean, the waters being mostly still. Meanwhile on the other side was a real beach with rough waves crashing on the sand and rocks.
We walked across the peninsula earlier today, stopping of course to take several pictures of the highlight of Brava Beach, the great sculpture called La Mano de Punta del Este created in the early 1980s by the Chilean artist Mario Irarrázabal -- a.k.a., “The Hand.”
I’ve written about this sculpture here before on an earlier trip. Irarrázabal very deliberately chose the “Brava” side for it, as part of its symbolism has to do with warning swimmers with the image looking like a last wave before drowning. (Recalls a certain Stevie Smith poem, that.) Such a warning is apt given the rough waves on that side, and would be much less so over on the calm Mansa side.
My last trips to Uruguay were in 2011 and 2012, and it was during the first year I visited “The Hand” with Brad Willis, though at dusk when the picture-taking conditions weren’t ideal. This time Will and I got there just after noon and took turns snapping shots of each other standing around the unique work. (I say unique, but I believe Irarrázabal would later create similar versions of it in Spain and a couple of other places.) Click that pic above to see a bigger version of it.
From there Will and I walked down the Brava side to the marina and enjoyed a delicious outdoor lunch at the water-facing Restaurant Artico before circling back for our ride. All in all a nice, relaxing way to round out the trip.
It was great just to slow down and look around, even if only for a few hours before waving goodbye.
Long night of travel ahead. More from back on the farm.