Two days after my mum and my sister Valerie touched down in Buenos Aires, I whisked them off to Colonia, a tiny little town in Southwestern Uruguay.
Just an hour-long ferry ride away from Buenos Aires, Colonia, which also happens to be protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the ideal destination for foreigners living in Buenos Aires to do visa runs – it’s the kind of place that’s great for a day trip, and if you’d like to stay a little longer, a night in the town is also very welcome.
I’d been to Colonia with Juan last October, and during that long, rainy weekend, I remember the streets being crowded with tourists who were mainly based in Argentina. Despite the gloomy weather and excessively crowded streets, I left the old, colonial town fascinated by Colonia’s old-school charm, its rustic glory, and the heritage it held.
I remember admiring the town’s beauty – the kind that is antique and broken and intense all at once – and wondering if I’d ever get the chance to return.
When my mum and Valerie told me they were coming to visit me in Argentina, I found the perfect excuse to return.
So there we were last Wednesday, on a sunlit morning, the streets shining with the reflection of the warm, rare winter sun.
After leaving our bags in our hotel, Posada Plaza Mayor, which was situated in the heart of the historical neighborhood, we set off to explore the town, bathed in warm, golden sunlight.
Treading the cobbled streets of Colonia, we walked along the small, narrow streets, which were framed in colorful, squat houses made of a combination of both bricks and stones.
Colonia is the sort of town that seems eternally stuck in the past – there are vintage cars parked along the streets, some solely for decoration, others still in use; and there is an odd but welcoming peace which shrouds the entire place.
Right in the middle of the work week in a tourist destination, the streets which I had first known amidst throngs of tourists, were now completely empty.
After a quick and simple lunch, we returned to the hotel to rest, full from our meal and heavy with sleep.
We settled in deep-back sun-tanning pool chairs in the hotel’s rustic courtyard and took a short but deep afternoon siesta.
On that sunny, pretty, winter day, we sat snug in our comfortable chairs as streaks of sunshine streamed through the thick blanket of leaves from the trees above us, leaving us warm and toasted as the sun rays evened out the occasional chilly breeze.
In front of us, in direct view, was a small, bustling fountain, the courtyard’s centerpiece and main highlight. It seemed apt to call it the fountain of life; as it attracted thirsty birds and captured my attention.
Sitting in tow with my mum and my sister, I felt like the luckiest girl alive. It was amazing and so lovely to be with my family again.
A couple of hours later, Val and I left the hotel to further explore the nooks and crannies of Colonia, while my mum, still jet lagged and too tired to walk around, decided to embrace the bed instead.
It was a good time for us to catch up – given that being continents apart with an 11-hour time difference certainly doesn’t make communication easy or effortless.
You see, Val and I usually text more over Whatsapp than have long phone or Skype conversations, so having the chance to be with her face-to-face again is just amazing. I’ve missed both my mum and Val a lot, and their trip to Buenos Aires was something I’d earnestly looked forward to for the past one month.
So while we casually strolled through the town’s rustic, stone-tiled streets that afternoon, with the sun beating down on our backs, me with my camera, shooting practically everything that captivated me (which was practically everything), and Val stopping every few steps to wait for me to catch up with her – I thought about how nice it was to be walking around aimlessly with the best sister in the world.
You know what they say about friends being the family members that you get to choose? Well, I’m glad that I have my sister and my brother – they’re precisely who I would choose, over and over again.
Pushing our way through corners and carefully walking down uneven roads, we eventually found ourselves at the jetty, alongside yachts and sailing boats anchored at the shore. Sitting on the bench and contemplating the glistening sunlight, which projected from the surface of the river Rio de La Plata, I was in complete peace.
Afternoon tea at Freddo, an ice cream store, and a nice, long chat later, we continued strolling around. I found myself enchanted with the trees, which created such beautiful landscapes, each tree framing and telling a story of its own.
And of course, the houses, which were what first charmed me the first time I visited Colonia, still held a captive hold on me.
As dusk fell around us, in the prettiest shades and colors, we stood mesmerized by the beauty of it all.