A Dutch man we met who lives in the area wrinkled his nose at the mention of Maldonado. “Terribly mediocre” is how he described it. I beg to differ. Maldonado offered charming bakeries, the best cortado of the trip, and a liveliness lacking in the off-season resort areas. In a cobblestoned plaza in Rocha we feasted on pork chops and homemade pizza and were suddenly joined by a party of 30 locals on their lunch break, passing around whiskey and laughing as they waited for their steaks. In San Carlos we were given the opportunity to tour a beautiful old building in the midst of restoration by extremely friendly and talkative construction workers.
While it never fails to surprise me how differently people view the ideal vacation, in my opinion it is worth it to explore the less beaten path. Yes, we saw average people milling about what would most likely be called average towns, but the chance to see how people across the planet choose to live their lives – without having to cater to outsiders – is thrilling. And often photogenic!