Artigas, Uruguay, has a population: 41,000. It is located on the border with Brazil. Between Artigas and Quaraí, Perú, is the Cuareim River which forms the border between the countries in this region. The city was founded in 1852. Here they speak with a particular dialect called portuñol - a mix of Portuguese and Spanish, which explains why I couldn't understand many of the people I spoke with, and some of them, one man in particular, did not understand my Spanish from Colombia. That particular man was rather rude and even said, "No entiendo nada de ti" and ended our attempt at a small conversation. I was simply asking about a restaurant.
The Artigas region is the second largest producer of cattle and sheep in the country, and rice is the most common grown crop. The city has many free-trade stores which receive a large amount of customers from Brazil. One of the churches, the San Eugenio Temple, was completed in 1880, in the photo album look for the white church with two bell towers. The city has many homes and other buildings that date back to the later half of the 19th century and early 20th century. There is a big park at the river that runs under the international bridge. The park is quite nice, very peaceful, and there are many Green Parrots in the trees and those birds can make quite a racket. It's almost impossible to see them because they are the same color as the tree branches and leaves.
Artigas has a humid temperate climate. The average daytime high of 25° C (76° F), and the nightly average low of 13° C (57° F). The city's elevation averages 121 meters (397 feet). The average yearly rainfall amounts to 1453 mm (57 inches) of rain.
So, my impressions: Artigas is a nice town, I liked my visit here, but the Spanish-Portugese mixed language used by some of the population is difficult to understand. I saw no cyclists here, and only a few poeple riding bikes in the city, but I did see a few people out running. Now that I think about it, there are no "good" bike shops here in Artigas. All throughout the southern half of South America, in particular, these towns are basically closed, as in probably 95% of the businesses are closed. The only places I could find open on Sunday were ice cream shops, bakeries, desert shops, and a few pharmacies. Finding lunch and dinner proved to be quite challenging. I finally simply bought a couple arepas in a bakery and for dinner, well, it wasn't much, but I found a chicken leg and thigh in one shop that was primarily a dessert shop. This shutting down of the towns seems to be more common the further south I have traveled. Yes, in Colombia, Ecuador, Perú, many shops are closed on Sundays, but at least there are restaurants open. Being this far south, the climate is now that of four seasons, like North America. That means the nights are quite cold now because if is Fall here in the Southern Hemisphere, and virtually nobody and no businesses/hotels etc have heaters. Hopefully that will change as my journey continues a bit further south.
My goal is to find a new place to live. So to reach that goal, I am traveling most of South America, visiting the countries of Ecuador, Perú, Bolivia, and Chile, passing through Argentina, visiting Paraguay, passing through a bit of Brazil, and finally visiting Uruguay. I have a list of towns, about 70 that meet these qualifications: Cities with average day temperatures of 22-28° C (72-83° F) and night temps of 14° C (57° F) and higher; and a population between 28,000-300,000. I analyzed climate and population data of around 700 towns in the countries mentioned above and then pulled out the ones that meet the previously mentioned criteria, which leaves about 70. My preference leans towards towns of less than 100,000 people. And, now that I have visited more than 30 towns/cities, I've decided I will probably want an inland town. I love the beach and walking in the warm water, but getting sunburned is just too easy, even on a cloudy day. At least here in Ecuador. I've also decided that any town with more than 100,000 population will be too big. I've decided that any small town/city (less than around 80,000 population) that meets the temp specifications and has a supermarket and ATM is one worth considering to live in.
My goal is to visit the towns and discover which one calls out to me - "Chip, Chip, make your new home here, this is your new home town". That hasn't happened yet, but the towns listed below are very close to giving me that feeling. At any rate, I am not visiting tourist attractions or archeological sites, etc, those will have to wait for another trip through South America.
At this point in my journey, I had ten towns on my Top 10 list, but I narrowed it down to four:
- Tingo Maria, Perú
- Moyobamba, Perú
- Catamayo, Ecuador
- Puyo, Ecuador
In my travels in Ecuador, I visited 32 towns/cities. In Perú, I visited 26 towns/cities; in Chile, only five towns; and in Argentina, I visited 14 towns. I visited 12 cities in Paraguay, and in Brazil, two.
Next up: Tacuarembó, Uruguay.