Turning Lemons into Lemonade in Punta del Este, Uruguay

Dedos in Punte del Este, Uruguay

Imagine yourself driving home from a nice evening out on the town. Maybe you had a big dinner with friends, drank some wine and had a few laughs. Now imagine as you’re heading back to your condo or hotel along the water you notice a commotion in the distance. You look closer and see something happening where you took those nice touristy photos earlier that day. Then you think… man, I hope nothing bad happened, is it a fight? Is everyone okay?

The answer is yes, it is a fight. And no, not everyone is okay.

It was a fight between 4 grown men and their quest to summit the middle finger of a hand protruding from the beach at 3:30am in Punta del Este, Uruguay. Straight out of a scene from The Hangover, my buddies and I thought it was a great idea to try and conquer Punta del Este’s #1 landmark… Dedos (fingers). We were able to summit the thumb and pinky fingers without hesitation but the 25ft middle finger proved to be our Everest. We tried human ladders and swinging each other up but we just couldn’t reach the peak. After some fighting within the team, cursing at the sand and collapsing on each other we decided to throw in the towel. 1 – 0 Dedos vs. Dudes.

Luckily for us there wasn’t a whole lot of people passing by that night. Actually, there really wasn’t anyone in the city our entire trip. We probably couldn’t have gotten away with this in January. But, Punta del Este was pretty much dead so we tried our best to turn lemons into lemonade!

Let’s back track… Last week I was again connected with a friend-of-a-friend who was coming down to Buenos Aires for vacation. I thought it would be a good idea to take him and his 2 buddies over to Punta del Este to catch the back-end of the summer madness that I have heard so much about. It was hot in the city so I thought it would be the same in Uruguay.

Long story short, I was wrong. I was reminded over and over again that the first 15 days of January are the craziest. Also, maybe Monday through Wednesday wasn’t the best time to come. Thanks, we got it. The women were few and far between, the parties were non-existent, the beaches were cold and windy, the food was ridiculously expensive and really not all that good. However, the views were beautiful, the company was a blast and I managed to have great time.

We took the Buquebus into Montevideo and then rented a car from there. After a great lunch at the famous Mercado del Puerto in Montevideo we took the beautiful 2 hour coastal drive up to Punta del Este.

We actually stayed a little bit outside downtown Punta del Este in La Barra. La Barra was like a small town you would see in Southern California. Including little art galleries and high priced eateries with ocean views. Our hotel was beautiful and was a few minute walk to the beach and to the main drag. However, the hotel was very quiet and filled with old people. Not like there is anything wrong with old people, it just wasn’t the scene we were looking for.

During the day we hit the abandoned beaches ducking in and out of cover between rain storms. In the afternoon we stopped at the Cactus y Pescados Restaurant for Clerico and Postres. It was great because we were the only ones in there so were able to try a lot of different stuff including an amazing chocolate banana mousse. From the trek back from Bikini Beach where the restaurant was we were greeted at our hotel with afternoon tea.

After a battery charging siesta we headed out for dinner and trouble. We ended up hitting the same bar 3 nights in a row because everyone we asked said Moby Dick was the only place to go during the week. We tried venturing out to find new spots like the casino bar but always ended up coming back. The best thing was is that they played early 90s music videos from the States that everyone knew the words to so it got people dancing.

All-in-all I think we made something out of nothing. We climbed some fingers, sang with the band at the Casino and even caught up with some lovely hitchhiking bachelorettes.


My name is Gareth Leonard, a Marketing Director turned World Traveler with a passion for slow, meaningful travel. I have been traveling the world full-time for the past 9+ years and document it all on Instagram and YouTube. Come join me!

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