Photo by Francesco Pistilli
A horse carries me across the three miles of sand dunes that separate Cabo Polonio from the main road. The hippie colony is beautifully positioned on a tip of land, reaching far into the Atlantic Ocean.
Uruguay is booming, but the big money that is coming on from Argentina, Brazil and North America is leaving many of its people feeling they are being by-passed. On the coast some 150 miles from the capital, Montevideo, is Cabo Polonio - a "hippie village" if ever there was one - where some are exploring an alternative lifestyle.
There is no electricity, no running water, just the sea and some generators to remind me of civilization. The atmosphere is very laid back, with just a few tourists hanging out on the beach or relaxing in hammocks hung from palm trees, drinking mate and smoking dope. Other visitors include the whales from Antarctica who's warmer breeding grounds or just off the coast at Cabo Polonio.
Ever present is the sand, that whips into the air and piles against the walls of buildings or any other solid object. The tin-roofed houses of the hamlet look as if they could fall over at any moment if not for the support.
I meet an old lady, who tells me she has lived here since the mid-1970s, says that almost everybody goes away during the winter and that only a small number of locals stay all year round.
At night, the darkness is broken only by the lighthouse, whose beam sweeps the dark Atlantic Ocean, catching the foam of breaking waves. Back in the dunes, the light comes from millions of twinkling stars.
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