El parador del Mitico, Rambla General Jose Artigas n. 12.
The appointment with my friend Fernando Esteban Mendoza y Gutierrez can not? than being in the restaurant pi? exclusive of Punta del Este, a seaside resort that already? of his? considered the most? "guiri" of South America. Nonetheless, as soon as I enter the room and see him sitting at the counter sipping a cockail as usual, I can't listen to my inhibitions: "Hey Princesa, que tal estas?"
Greetings, laughter and pats on the back follow.
In fact, when I met Fernando in Spain, he had earned the nickname of "princesa" (that is, of princess) for his delicate and indolent manner which, inevitably, made him an ideal target for people without "creanza".
Yet Fernando, behind his mild and polite appearance, hides a great capacity? for business and, in a few years,? was able to build a dense network of relationships with the world that matters.
Every so often, however, when he can't? more, he returns to Uruguay to devote himself to his sailing boat.
And, indeed, not surprisingly, the invitation to take a tour comes shortly after.
As we drive down the road, it is difficult not to notice the splendor of the villas and hotels that follow one another seamlessly. Yet, until the early 900s, only 492 very poor fishermen lived on this promontory. Then suddenly, on the initiative of the government,? was born "the Brighton of Uruguay" and, ever since, people with pasta from the United States gather here to play golf with the pasta people from Argentina.
After crossing the beautiful "undulating bridge" designed by Leonel Viera in front of the Maldonado river estuary, we arrive in this way. to the homonymous Barra de Maldonato directly in front of Plata, Fernando's sailboat.
The crew, besides tech? from the two of us,? consisting of some friends of our host who live in one of the many villas in front of the pier. Will it touch me? manage one of the winches.
The whole group moves in unison and symbiosis, a sign that? made up of people who know how to sail seriously. In fact, after some preparations, we are already? ready to leave the small port of Maldonado. "Shall we set sail, captain?"
We make the first turn in front of the island of Gorriti, an islet completely covered with vegetation if not in the vicinity of the two beaches of Honda and Puerto Jardin. In history, yes? also known as "Island of Palms" or "Maldonado Island", until? in 1700 Don Francisco Gorriti was exiled there and took the latter's surname. Moreover ? It was an ideal hiding place for pirates from around the world (including Francis Drake) and the destination of Charles Darwin's studies who, before going to Ecuador to the Galapagos Islands, remained in the area for a long time.
All these stories, which ignite in me extreme interest and the innate tendency to ask questions over and over, are told to me as we grind horizons after horizons thanks to Plata, a boat that passes through the sea like a bullet in space. For this reason I hardly realize that, after traveling about 7 nautical miles, the swimmers and water skiers have disappeared to make way for the sea lions of the island of Lobos. It seems that the colony lives here more? bigger than all of South America, even more? of Paracas in Peru? and the Galapagos themselves.
In observing them as they dive and emerge from the water with their mustaches, I almost disregard the last order given by Fernando and, for this reason, these? forced to repeat it: "Hey, let's anchor! Let's anchor!"
Immediately afterwards I let go of the winch and let go of the sails at the same moment in which the helmsman goes upstream in order to let go of the anchor. After that? another member of the crew turns to me and, passing me a wetsuit, specifies: "now we take a bath with the lions". After all, it doesn't take long to be persuaded.
So, a few moments later, I find myself challenging the sea lions in a diving competition and taking note that actually Punta del Este? a unique place in the world.