The eastern coast of Uruguay boasts a collection of former farming and fishing villages: La Juanita, José Ignacio, Punta del Diablo, Cabo Polonio.
What it’s all about: anything from the most glamourous modernist hotels and beach clubs to the hippiest of hangouts. The atmosphere is generally low-key bohemian-chic.

The area used to be inhabited by fishermen, until some rich families from Montevideo and Buenos Aires started spending their summers there, building extraordinary beach houses. During the whole season, the area will host about a million tourists from Uruguay’s neighbouring countries as well as Americans and Europeans.

We rented out a wooden cabin in La Juanita. It was all we needed and more. I mean… kayaks and I aren’t that good friends.

We drove some miles to Manantiales -one of my absolute favourite spots, and hit the beach.
The Selenza Beach Club immediately made our hearts flutter.

The structure is gorgeous; the mixture of wood, white cloths and straw decorations is like my definition of summer.

We spent most of the day shadow-bathing on a sunbed.
Quick fact: the sun in Uruguay is ultra dangerous. You see crowds of Foreigners completely sunburnt in all shades of red. My guess is that the hotel packages include special offers for stays at the hospital’s burnt division.

Maybe it was the summer air or the ocean breeze that got us so hungry. Or our seaside activities…

In any case, the food at the Selenza Parador was quite delicious.

We were served a complimentary gazpacho…

…followed by a refreshing tomato and avocado salad

and some cod fritters on tomato-basil sauce.

Feeling the siesta calling out to us louder and louder, we crawled back to the loungers and asked for pudding to be served there.

We shared a Rose ice cream pancake. I have to admit that I was expecting something light and delicate. Instead, we were served two fat pancakes filled with dulce de leche and a rose ice cream scoop sitting on top. Which to my taste, didn’t marry well.

By the time I woke up, a group of Argentinean families from Buenos Aires -Porteños- had taken place under the umbrella in front of us. Man was that an interesting anthropological experience…

One of the men in particular was the stereotype of the Porteño asshole. Excuse my French.
He kept tantalilsing the kids, tickling them into repeating after him “you’re the best”, yelling out every word he muttered, saying things like “boys with boys, girls with girls” and treating his wife like dump with machista sentences like: “Have you put sunscreen on the baby?” “-No” “Then get your ass off the pouf and do it”.
Ok, her name was Barbie, so I guess she had it coming ;)

After the Sunset, we went for dinner in town. Having had our share of glamour and aristocracy for the day, we went for a place a bit more casual and laid back. “No me olvides” worked like a charm.

The atmosphere was young and “bonne enfant”, playful and innocent. The menu was handrwritten and full of witty sentences.

I adored everything about it. Especially this little buddy, whom the staff seemed to have adopted for the season.

My personal mind wanderings while eating the amazing home made pizza:
Seeing the joyful staff hugging and teasing each other, it reminded me of an Argentinean tv series I used to watch as a teen called Verano Eterno. I wondered if I missed a chapter in my life somehow. I never worked a season in a summer joint. And it all seemed like a group of friends having the time of their life while incidentally waiting on clients. Such fun.

It started raining cats and dogs, one of those summer showers that cool the heat down. It was time to call it a day.