Las Sierras de Minas: Villa Serrana.
That’s me, just snapping away, trying to balance taking photos to remember the scenery and actually soaking up the gorgeous views of the hillside. If only all my problems were that simple…
It is always nice to go visit a local, especially in foreign country. It is even nicer to visit a friend who has a car to take you to places you may not otherwise get a chance to see. And that’s exactly what we were able to do. A few of us hopped in the truck and took Route 8 straight out of Montevideo through Minas to Villa Serrana. According the the 2011 census, there are 89 people that call Villa Serrana home (similar to the 95 people residing year-round in Cabo Polonio). Villa Serrana is located in the Lavalleja Department of Uruguay, which is just west of la Rocha Department (where I stayed at the beach).
This area of Uruguay is also known as Las Sierras de Minas named after the substantial presence of minerals in the area. We were able to explore the gaucho country where cows roam freely (again!). You may be asking yourself why I keep mentioning cows. Great observation. Of the 3.3 million people that call Uruguay home, 1.5 live in the Capital city of Montevideo and the rest inhabit the small towns in the sparse lands of the country. Okay so wrap your head around that in terms of a US metropolitan area such as the Twin Cities; Minneapolis-St. Paul has an estimated population of 3.3 million people. Now, there are 3.3 million people and there are approximately 10 million COWS!! That’s an insane ratio. Uruguay is one of the largest exporters of beef (go figure).
In Villa Serrana, in the valley of the surrounding hills, lays a gorgeous fresh water lake. Uruguay hosts a portion of one of the world’s largest groundwater reserves, the Guarani Aquifer. This lake is fed by the aquifer and boy is that water freezing but oh, so refreshing on a sweltering summer day. It was a refreshing change from camping in the hills.