“The Quality of Life is Why We’re Here”
I am relaxing on our front porch at our home in Uruguay, about two miles from downtown Punta del Este. Another cloudless November morning, the crystal-clear sunshine and gentle sea breeze promise another comfortable spring day. Punta del Este has been a perennially solid place to invest, with a high-performing rental market. For the increasing number of people who want to get in on Uruguay’s expanding economy, its property market has provided a great entree. But to those of us who are here all year, Punta de Este is simply a great place to live. Relaxing and safe, it offers Uruguay’s highest quality of life for the money.
As I sip a rich, aromatic Brazilian coffee, the ﬁrst beachgoers of the day make their way along our coral-colored gravel road, heading for the dunes. With warm weather bringing people out of their homes, the country store down the street is setting out their café.
The months of October and November are when the Uruguayan coast comes to life. The trees return to full green, the ﬂowers bloom, and the last of the songbirds take up residence. Brilliant green parrots ﬂy from tree to tree, gathering small branches to build their nests. The last of our large avocados drops to the ground. It’s warm enough now to put your shoes away for the year, and get out the t-shirts and shorts…yet during an hour-long walk on the wide, sandy beach, it’s unlikely you’ll see more than one or two other people.
We usually just hear the birds and the crashing waves, but today I can hear a strange rumbling sound. It turns out to be some 40 odd Harley Davidsons cruising majestically along the seafront road as they arrive from Brazil…soon to be joined by their international counterparts coming from Chile to Texas.
The arrival of the bikes signals much more than the beginning of a rally, impressive as it may be. The Harley event is usually the ﬁrst event of Punta del Este’s high season, when our town of 7,300 people prepares for over 500,000 visitors.
Just after Christmas, people from all over the world pour in at a rate of tens of thousands per day to enjoy the South American summer at the beach. And New Year’s Eve is the high point of the season. An impressive display of ﬁ reworks ﬁlls the sky with brilliant displays, as scores of homeowners launch what we Americans would consider professional-grade ﬁreworks.
The waterfront restaurants are festive and inviting, as diners spend hours over long lunches, and waiters bustle around with some of the world’s best seafood, steaks and shellﬁsh…not to mention Uruguay’s terriﬁc selection of ﬁne wines. These restaurants are busy…but you won’t need a reservation, because of the sheer number of them.
An eclectic collection of antique and luxury cars parades along the waterfront road, as people stroll the boardwalk, enjoying the sun and sea while admiring the ﬂeet of boats bobbing gently in the marina.
And even my relatively quiet neighborhood has come alive. Through the window I can see a procession of families and groups of friends headed for the beach, armed with chairs, umbrellas and
coolers. By 9:30 p.m., the nighttime air carries the scent of wood smoke and the smell of grilling chicken and steaks, as the neighbors light up their wood-ﬁ red BBQs, known as parrillas. By February—the best month to visit—half of this crowd will be gone, with even fewer seasonal visitors remaining in March. The weather and ocean will still be warm—as they are through mid-April—but the beaches and city will be mostly quiet…at least during the week.
Each year, I love to watch as the hordes of international visitors bring the city completely back to full splendor. But I also love to watch them go home, as our quiet, country life returns to normal. Then we’ve got the world’s best restaurants and beaches all to ourselves until next year.
Editor’s Note: This article was taken from a past issue of International Living’s monthly magazine. To get full access to all past and future articles and to receive the magazine in the mail or online each month, simply click on the below button to subscribe to International Living magazine at the special introductory price of $49. You will get instant access to the current issue of the magazine as well 10 years of back issues. As an added bonus, we will also send you a FREE report – How to Retire in Paradise on $30 a Day. (You can cancel your subscription at any time.)