Uruguay travel blog by Mark Berman -
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The heart of gaucho country in northern Uruguay, Tacuarembo is also the birthplace of tango legend Carlos Gardel. I came here to explore the city and
to visit the Carlos Gardel Museum in Valle Eden (Eden Valley).
Montevideo to Tacuarembo
I left Montevideo
by bus north 2hrs to Durazno. I had a brief look around before taking
another bus 1hr north to Paso de los Tores. From here it is 1hr 30mins on a different bus up to Tacuarembo.
Like most cities in Uruguay that are not
big tourist destinations, budget hotel prices are excessive. I payed over $30USD for a dingy room for 2 without a bathroom. Uruguay hotel owners need to
have a careful think about their prices - do they want people to visit and recommend their cities and stay more than 1 night or not?
Walk Around the Center
I spent the next day exploring the city and sights. The bus terminal is named after Carlos Gardel, but has a bust of the Minister of Transport and
Public Works - Juan Carlos Raffo outside, he's not even dead. To get to the center from here, walk west over the bridge and 4 blocks more to the main
square - Plaza 19 de Abril. The plaza is big, it has tree-lined walkways on the corners leading into a huge open courtyard in the middle, a statue of
Artigas stands at one end of the courtyard. On the street on the other side of the plaza is the attractive stone church - Catedral de San Fructuoso built
in 1899, it's a national historical monument. I believe it is also known as Iglesia de la Santa Cruz. Around the plaza, rows of bicycles and motor scooters
are parked on the roadside and horses and carts trot by regularly. Within a couple of blocks from here are 2 museums, Museo del Indio y del Gaucho (Indian
and Gaucho Museum) and Museo Geociencias (Geosciences Museum). 4 blocks away is Plaza Cristobal Colon, a shady plaza with many trees and a bust
of Christopher Columbus, the plaza is not that flash really. I am a bit of a plaza freak sometimes and wanted to see the other of Tacuarembo's 3 plazas -
Plaza Bernabe Rivera, 6 blocks walk. Along the way more horses and carts and locals riding bicycles and motor scooters passed by. This plaza is more
attractive than the previous one with its nice paths, palm trees and central area. There are monuments to J.P. Varela (1845-1879) - an educator and Dr.
Ivo Ferreira Bueno (1888-1970). Across the road is a brown brick church and a large white cross.
While I walked back into the center of town and towards
the bus terminal to go to the Carlos Gardel Museum, I saw a few gauchos
walking around! Men with long black boots with their pants tucked in, hats and
How to get to the Carlos Gardel Museum
It's 23km from Tacuarembo to the main road entrance of the Carlos Gardel Museum, but you must walk 1km from there to the museum or somehow
get a ride, it's a little remote. I was lucky to thumb down a ride for some of the way up to the camping ground 'El Mago Carlos Gardel', the rest of the
walk took me over a wooden foot bridge across the river and past an archaeological site called Memorial del Motociclista. I continued over the train tracks
and turned right at the T intersection and walked past Carlos Gardel School up on the hill to the left, on the opposite side is the museum. Here's a tip,
you can actually turn right and walk along the train tracks to get to the museum, it's much quicker.
Tango and Songs - Carlos Gardel
So I was now at the famous museum and birthplace of
tango legend Carlos Gardel
(1890-1935). I was worried it wouldn't be open because it was a Monday and the Lonely Planet said it was closed on Mondays.
However, everyone in town that I had asked said it would be open and I can indeed confirm that it is open 7 days a week from 9am to 5pm. The entrance fee
is 20 pesos ($1USD). I'm going to tell you what I saw in the museum! There is a nice ambience with his music playing, a life size cut-out photograph stands
near the door and photographs of his parents on a wall. Next is a large copy of his birth certificate. You probably know about the controversy surrounding
Carlos Gardels birthplace between Uruguay, Argentina and France. All I know is that he had a Uruguayan birth certificate and I was standing right in front
of it. Next I saw photos of him in his school continuing to adult life. There's a piano, a guitar, accordion and an old gramophone cabinet. There's newspaper
clippings, posters, career artwork, his family tree and many more photos from his films and performances. Next door is a cinema to view film
clips of the man. I enjoyed the museum and was glad to have made the effort to do something a little off the beaten track. I took many photos and made a short 'walk through
' film at the museum. Tango Bar 1935
is one of his
most famous films.
Death of a Tango Legend
Carlos Gardel died in 1935 in an airplane crash in Medellin (Colombia) and is
buried at La Chacarita Cemetery in Buenos Aires.
Getting Back to Town
The train station of Valle
Eden is just behind the museum. To get back I walked along the tracks to the road and walked back to the main highway.
Buses from here into Tacuarembo are not frequent though I managed to hitch a ride all the way to town.
4 Countries in 1 Night
I had put my
backpack and things into storage at the bus terminal earlier in the day. I planned a full night of traveling ahead. Exit Uruguay, cut the corner of Brazil,
travel through a slice of Argentina to get to Paraguay by the morning. This is how it went down, it was fun, like a big mission. Left Tacuarembo
at around 5pm, bus 3hrs to the Uruguayan town of Artigas on the northern border. Crossed to Quarai in Brazil, changed currency. Ate the most gigantic
hotdog I have ever seen. Waited in the bus terminal for 3 hours for a 2hr bus to Uruguaiana on the border of Argentina. Crossed to Paso de los Libres in Argentina, changed currency. Waited 3 hours for a 5hr
bus ride up to Posadas
on the border of Paraguay. Crossed the river
Paraguay at 8:40am, changed currency. Wow, what a blast, mission accomplished! Now that's a top 'thing to do' for any 'top things to do list' in my opinion. Best thing about it was that I wasn't alone, my girlfriend was with me!