walkscape Cabo Polonio
Cabo polonio: a gem hidden between dunes and ocean
Posted on April 7, 2019

Cabo Polonio is a curious place. It's the kind of place that you meet by chance because a couple of backpackers just mentioned it's existence, and it seems to be extraordinary. Of course, they cannot explain exactly in which sense this place is so awesome. Essentially, El Cabo is difficult to figure out. It's paradoxical, peaceful, isolated, colourful, dry. It's located at the km 264,5 of the Ruta 10, more or less five hours of bus ride from Montevideo. From the visitor center, the best and funniest way to reach El Cabo is through one of the double-decker trucks. 

The ride takes about twenty-five minutes and it's a parade of different natural settings. A forest in the first part, sand dunes in the middle and a long run on the infinite playa sur for the grand final. Grabbing a seat on the top of the truck is, of course, the best choice, although it looks to be wobbly.

The village looks extremely eccentric with the colourful little huts plunged into the light sand. All around, somebody has a horse outside the door and some dogs revive the empty sandy roads. The strong wind and the sound of the ocean waves are an ongoing presence in the dryness landscape, where about sixty people formally live, even if, during the summer the presence of tourists increases the population. Flowing into the area is extremely restful and going from one side to the other doesn't take so much time. 

This kind of route reveal differences between the two sides of El Cabo; fancy houses at the south and unpretentious ones at the north. Apparently, getting a house here seems to be very tricky, in fact, as some residents explained to me, the possibility to build something in this land is highly unlikely; to bring new building materials into the area is not permitted by the law, so using materials from other lodges is the only way to build a dwelling, otherwise is possible to buy straight an existing one. For this reason is common to bump into a construction made of old planks of wood, metal sheets, and fishing nets.

Cabo Polonio is a self-sufficient community, in which everybody lives without running water or regular power supply - solar panels, wind turbines, and some generators keep the lights on, but basically, the presence of candles into empty plastic bottle scatter the night. To complete the picture, the lighthouse stands out on the Atlantic Ocean, lighting up the entire place.

Just below the lighthouse, a colony of sea lions lives on the rocks. Only twenty meters separate my eyes from these curious animals. I spent a lot of time watching them diving in the Ocean and lying down on the brown stones. El Cabo seems to be a great natural spot - the presence of sea lions is an incredible discovery, but wandering around the beaches is worth it too. In fact, where the lodges start to disappear, sand dunes begin to emerge in the landscape. Going up on these giant hills give a great viewpoint on the village from a long distance. Along the boundless beach, the sound of the waves goes with the restful walking on the water's edge, where different kind of birds feasts upon some fishes.

Managing scarcity, living without frills, choosing simplicity, can be a choice of a vacation or a more strong choice of life, but in any case is the choice of making a step back to the essential, opening the eyes across the night, still watching the brightness of the stars in the sky.