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. On 2 occasions
I have been here to explore the city and to visit the Carlos Gardel Museum in Valle Eden (Eden Valley). The first time I
left Montevideo by bus north for 2hrs to Durazno. Then another bus 1hr north to Paso de los Tores. From here it is 1hr 30mins on a
different bus up to Tacuarembo. The 2nd time I arrived in Tacuarembo from Melo.
Like most cities in Uruguay that
are not big tourist destinations, budget hotel prices are excessive. On my first visit to Tacuarembo I paid 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
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. 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.
You will see a few gauchos walking around while in town.
Men with long black boots with their pants tucked in, hats and smart jackets.
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 & 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 says it is 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 (less than $1USD).
I'm going to tell you what you can see 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 there are 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 you have
to walk along the tracks to the road and walk back to the main highway from there. 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 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 and 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 and ate the most gigantic hotdog I had 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 and
changed currency. Waited 3 hours for a 5hr bus ride up to Posadas
on the border of Paraguay. Crossed the
river to Encarnacion
in Paraguay at 8:40am and 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!