Stage One: Introduction
Punta del Diablo is one of the most beautiful and well known holiday destinations in Uruguay. The first day we arrived, we headed straight for the beach which we’d been informed was the best in the resort. It was a scorching hot day so we settled down with our family and friends to enjoy the sun.
Just before lunchtime, me and Sarah decided to go and explore some of the main road that runs through the centre of the resort, lined with travellers selling hand made jewellery and clothes and interesting restaurants and bars. We didn’t make it that far. As we stumbled back over the top of the massive sand dune separating the beach and the road, that’s when we spotted the sign declaring “2 Caipirinhas for UR$100”, roughly £2 GBP. When you see prices like this in Uruguay (or anywhere!) you don’t pass them by as it’s a relatively expensive country in S.America.
The outdoor bar area
Stage Two: Lust
We took our seats in the beautiful decked outside area and waited for the barman. He strolled over to take our order, a wide smile on his rugged, stubbled face, reminiscent of a young Patrick Swayze in Point Break, I noted.
Watching him make our caipirinhas in the outside bar was like a beautiful piece of theatre. He sliced the limes to order, one for each drink, added them to individual cocktail shakers, poured in sugar by eye and muddled. Next he added crushed ice, topped it up with cachaça and shook them gently over his shoulder, biceps glistening in the midday sun. It was 15 minutes from ordering to receiving the drinks, this man clearly took pride in his art. As he walked over to present us with our prizes, I felt like one of the women in a Diet Coke advert, dizzy with anticipation.
Mixology in progress
Stage Three: Attraction
Those of you who know me well will be aware that having worked in a cocktail bar for a few years, I appreciate a well put together drink. What I tasted blew my mind – perfectly balanced between sweet and sour and bursting with a freshness from the lime. Most people put 4 ingredients in their caipirinhas (lime, sugar, ice, cachaça), he added a 5th that I’d not experienced before – love. This was the best caipirinha I had ever tasted. When we had finished our drinks, we sprinted back over the dunes to spread the word to anyone who would listen, we were geniuses and had found the bestest, cheapest bar in town.
The best Caipi in the whole world!
Stage Four: Infatuation
A few hours later that afternoon we’d convinced the rest of our party to join us at the bar. We had one caipirinha, then another, all of a sudden it was beginning to get dark. We decided to bed in for the evening and order some of the pizzas that we’d seen coming out of the wood fired pizza oven. When I tasted the pancetta pizza, I felt robbed and cheated. Robbed and cheated by all the pizza I had eaten before this that didn’t taste this good.
Pizza. Bacon. Wood fired oven. Bacon pizza, done.
Stage Five: Attachment
We had 9 days left in Uruguay and I didn’t want another one to pass by without this man making me a caipirinha or a pizza. We spent a considerable amount of time in his bar, were introduced to his wife Fabi and his dog Nala, all the while I had questions building in my head as to how this guy was able to create such magic. I hadn’t had the opportunity to have much conversation with him as his English was only slightly better than my Spanish. So for our final evening in Uruguay we decided to make one final visit where my brother and sister in law would act as translators, allowing me to ask all the unanswered questions that remained.
L-R Sean, Dhy, THE MAN HIMSELF, Fabi, Sarah, James. Happy as can be.
Now most of that conversation will remain private, but suffice to say some of the answers surprised me. They had only opened their doors 2 weeks ago, he was actually a construction worker by day and only ran the bar on evenings and weekends, and his name was… Wilmar?
Stage Five: Separation
The next day we had to leave. It had been brief, and like many a holiday romance was over before it had really begun. In truth it was entirely one sided, but I accepted that. Thank you for the memories Wilmar.
Travel lover, professional writer and football (soccer) obsessive, James loves nothing more than getting outside and exploring little known corners of the globe. He’s also very partial to a drop of Guinness.