Slowly I open my eyes. With a big smile I look at the wooden planks next to the bed. They make a somewhat improvised wall between the kitchen/living room/bedroom and the tiny little bathroom. It`s just like a tiny little hobit hole. The wooden cottage we found ourselves in. It might be 15 square meters at most, but of my god, I loved this little hut so much!
In Punta Del Este I had heard stories of a little town, off the beaten track: Cabo Polonio. A former fisherman’s village, built by sea lion hunters. Nowadays a true retreat for those who are trying to find some peace and escape from the daily hustle and bustle.
A true escape is never a simple one. After multiple buses we ended our journey in an old farming truck that had been converted to a bullet proof beach transportation service. Its massive wheels carried us through the puddles and mud to finally show us this Garden of Eden. A small, surreal place built on a tiny peninsula at the far corner of a national park. A place with no electricity, no Wi-Fi. Barely any connection to the outside world... the `main street` was nothing more than a sandy road. Its other streets were nothing more than the traces of popular footpaths. Reveling itself by the flattened patterns of grass on the ground. The houses were little improvised wooden huts, constructed by whatever could be found on the beach. Some of them, so fragile and effected by the strong coastal winds, were grounded by an old rope, desperately holding the hut in place. A great challenge considering that the wind takes no prisoners here. Most houses are joyfully painted in all colors of the rainbow. Decorated with beautiful shells or other trophies that have been washed up on shore.
The truck stops in the `main square`. Nothing more than a small patch of grass with a wooden signpost in the middle. An old lady, dressed up in winter clothes to protect herself from the chilling winds, approaches us. “Do you guys want a little cabin? I have a place close to here. I`ll give you a good price.” She says friendly. For sure it couldn`t be far considering the fact that this village has a total of 30 inhabitants living here year round. Once we arrived at the hut it was love at first sight. It`s a tiny, cozy shed which is smiling back at me. There was a bucket of water placed in front which was there so we could wash our dishes. Inside there was a little table with two wooden chairs. A candle on top of the table allowed us to see our dinner during the dark nights. A little stove top to cook our food and in the corner a bed was squeezed in. The ceiling was low but just high enough for us to stand up straight. The walls were decorated with sea shells, crab shells and all that has been bought in by the sea. The wind made it`s in via the cracks in the walls. But it didn’t matter. This was our little home for the next couple of days. “We`ll take it. For two nights please.”
The sun was almost setting. Just some quick shopping’s before it got dark. Luckily the local supermarket is just two huts away. It appeared to be nothing more than a huge army-barrack with some shelves on the walls. At the back of the store, a group of old sailors are talking with one another. They seemed copy-pasted versions of Popeye the sailor man. “Hola, como estas?” They ask friendly. “Yes, we are great thanks.” I respond.
A little less than two minutes later we return to our hut with our hands full of shoppings. The sun is only just above the horizon. Quickly, we drop the shopping bags on the table and decide to make our way to the beach. A couple of local dogs come to join in. A picturesque sky filled with colorful clouds forms a true spectacle. The wind blows through my scarf making it dance. It`s cold. Freezing cold. But it is lovely. It reminds me of the long walks we used to take on the beaches on a Sunday before we made a visit to Grandma and Grandad. The dogs that are playing on the beach. Little sand storms take place, smoothing the skin on my face. “Daddy would love it here.” I think to myself. We returned to the huts. Grant starts cooking. The cat of the hostel 100 meters away sits in front of the window, meowing for some leftover food. The lighthouse starts its nightshift, shinning a warm spotlight over the little village every 20 seconds. We light the candle on the table. We`ll leave the dishes for tomorrow. It is too dark outside now. Quickly we go outside to gaze at the stars. The Milky Way makes a warm, colorful cloak in the sky. We suddenly hear the pot squealing. One last cup of tea. The rest of the water we put in the hot water bottle to preheat the bed. I blow out the candle. The sun has gone down and so it is time for bed. As soon as it rises we will start a new day. “You can always find happiness in the simple things.” I think to myself.
After a burn-out it was time for a change. I quit my job, sold my stuff and bought a one-way ticket to the Dominican Republic. What was supposed to be a 4 month adventure turned into 2,5 years and counting......
Photo by: Vanessa Marques Barreto