We had five spare days to play with so after a spot of research we decided to spend it in the hot, moist riverside town of Colón about five hours north of Buenos Aires and we regret absolutely nothing. As soon as we arrived at our accommodation we felt like we were on holiday. I’ve decided that my favourite accommodations are studio flats with a kitchen, a table and chairs outside, and a swimming pool. Yes, I’m most definitely getting old.
Colón is fucking hot though. Like, the “can’t actually move” level of hot. The whole town, like most Argentine towns, closes down between 1pm and 5pm which makes perfect sense because you just can’t fucking do anything without losing six pints of water through your face. You might reabsorb some of it through your eyeballs when your eyebrows fail. I’m going to look into having my eyebrows replaced with guttering.
Another time the town closes down is for the football. Maxi looks after the accommodation, he lives on site with his lovely family. As soon as we arrived he told us we’d need to get our shopping done as Argentina were playing in the World Cup semi-final so it was basically tough titties if you were out of bread after kick off. We popped to the shop, bought enough shit for dinner and breakfast, then promptly ate dinner at the resto bar we found that, miraculously, had a spare table for us to watch Argentina batter Croatia 3-0.
Our sleepy riverside holiday destination turned into a sea of blue and white as drummers showed up to the intersection outside of the bar we were at. More and more people joined, cheering and singing, cars crept through the throng honking their horns, mostly in celebration rather than “get out of the fucking road”. It didn’t take long before there were so many people they actually stationed police at the end of each block to divert traffic. It was absolutely insane, such a happy atmosphere.
Over the next few days we developed a routine; wake up whenever, have a leisurely breakfast, doom scroll or read outside our room until the sun shifted around and our shade disappeared. Then we migrated to the swimming pool to cool off and act like children, playing a game whereby you try to get the ball off the other person in a no holds barred competition which definitely included attempted drowning. Probably shouldn’t have left each other all our money in our wills.
Then we’d dry off and go for a stroll. Maybe to the shops, perhaps to the river. It was still hot in the early evening, just not quite eyeball melting hot. One evening we took a couple of beers to the riverside beach. There’s enough sand edging parts of the River Uruguay to warrant a lifeguard, blokes selling churros from a handcart, and offers of being dragged behind a speedboat on some manner of inflatable. There’s grassy bits at the back complete with trees so you can sit in the shade and enjoy the beach without having to scrape bits of it out of your orifices afterwards.
We’d made the mistake of trying to go to the beach in the middle of the day when we first got here and wondered why it was so empty until we set foot on the sand. Oh. That’s why. You’d probably only come to the beach in the daytime if you were fond of fun afternoons in the burns unit. Fuck me, it was scorching! We couldn’t even walk on it in flip flops because it’d get in between your flip flop and your foot and incinerate your soles. It was about ten degrees away from becoming fucking glass.
Other things we did here included buying a bunch of stuff to drink mate, pronounced mah-tay. Literally everyone drinks it. We saw people up at Iguazu Falls carting their thermos around full of water for their mate. In San Ignacio which was even hotter than Colón we saw a woman drinking hers with orange squash. One bloke had some manner of dark iced liquid, the colour of Coke, which he was pouring into his mate. We’ve seen everyone from teenagers to the elderly sipping their mate, it’s a huge part of the Argentine cultural identity and we wanted to try it.
It is fucking awful! Oh my gosh, it’s more bitter than… than… I don’t know. Me after the results of the Brexit referendum was announced. I tried it in Paraguay last time I was in South America and I must have blocked out exactly how bitter it is because I really don’t remember it drawing my entire top lip back over my forehead in disgust like this. But then Maxi explained how we could put sweetener in the water to take the edge off and actually? Yeah, I could get used to this now.
So you put the yerba herb in the cup which is also called a mate. You have a special straw called a bombilla. The herb should be at a 45° angle up one side of the mate with the bombilla resting on the other side and you pour the water (or whatever) into the lower part of the herb. Not all the way up, you leave some dry and increase the water a tiny bit every time to get some fresh herb. The water shouldn’t be boiling, it should be around 80°C which is all well and good but I wouldn’t recognise eighty degrees if I stirred it with my finger.
Maxi also suggested we try dulce de leche which is basically caramel. Not in the mate, as a separate thing to apply to one’s facehole. It’s somehow better than any caramel I’ve had before, and it’s soft enough to be used as a spread. Tarrant can’t have it so it’s my duty to consume enough for both of us. It is the very nectar of the gods themselves. I’ve been having it on bread or banana. I’ve also been shovelling it straight into my chops from the pot like a savage but I’m a fucking grown up and I pay my own dental bills and I’ll eat pure sugar if I want to.
Yeah so we’re calling Colón an absolute win. Not only does it have a lovely vibe, beer and food is half the price of Buenos Aires. I think we were the only foreigners in town, and whilst it’s a hot spot for domestic tourists and visitors from neighbouring countries, I don’t think they get a lot of Europeans. Maxi told us in his two and a half years there we were only his second English speaking guests. The woman in the shop was super surprised to have gringas in town, and a woman accosted us in the street just so she could speak English to us. She teaches English, she told us she really enjoys speaking it but never gets the chance in Colón. If you want an affordable, relaxed holiday destination then this town is it.
Jump to “Useful shit to know…”
Colón, Entre Rios, Argentina
Stayed at: Cabañas El Sueño De Pedro, Colón
Useful shit to know…
- We took FlechaBus to Colón. Via Tac have (marginally cheaper) services too but only the evening one that doesn’t get you in until midnight goes to the terminal.
- Make sure your bus is going to the terminal as there’s another stop on the highway about 11 kilometres from the town at a Shell petrol station.
- On Busbud the stop on the highway is listed as Colón Acceso.
- Returning to Buenos Aires, Flechabus again has the reasonably timed buses from the terminal.
- If you need a remis from the terminal you can WhatsApp Remis Servitutty on +54 9 3447 50-4222. They don’t speak English though.