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viernes, 25 de mayo de 2012

Carmela X 3

Colonia del Sacramento... a great place to relax

From Wikipedia: Colonia del Sacramento (formerly the Portuguese Colónia do Sacramento) is a city in southwestern Uruguay, by the Río de la Plata, facing Buenos Aires, Argentina. It is the oldest town in Uruguay and capital of the departamento of Colonia. It has a population of around 22,000.
It is renowned for its historic quarter, a World Heritage Site. Modern Colonia del Sacramento produces textiles and has a free trade zone, in addition to a polytechnic centre and various government buildings.

Founded in 1680 by Portugal as Colónia do Sacramento, the colony was later disputed by the Spanish who settled on the opposite bank of the river at Buenos Aires. The colony was conquered by José de Garro in 1680, but returned to Portugal the next year. It was conquered again by the Spanish in March 1705 after a siege of five months, but given back in the Treaty of Utrecht. Another attack during the Spanish-Portuguese War, 1735-1737, failed.
It kept changing hands from crown to crown due to treaties such as the Treaty of Madrid in 1750 and the Treaty of San Ildefonso in 1777, until it remained with the Spanish. It then transferred to Portuguese control again, being later incorporated in Brazil after 1816, when the entire Banda Oriental (Uruguay) was seized by the government of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves and renamed the Cisplatina province.

Now part of the independent country of Uruguay, Colonia del Sacramento has expanded to the north and east, but the original Barrio Histórico (historic quarter) retains its irregular, terrain-fitting street plan built by the Portuguese, contrasting with the wider, orthogonal calles in the newer Spanish area.

My first encounter with Colonia was not one of my best experiences. After diving into a pool of Belgrano´neighborhood for a couple of months and getting my PADI Open Water Diver card, my group and I had our "final test" at Colonia´s quarries Winter, much, much much to cold.

In my group we were about 7 people. All men except me. All ages from 17 to 68, and with a nasty, horrible teacher that for some reason I never knew hated me!

The exam was a farce, half frozen in our wetsuits - in me it was a little large so that the droplets of water that seeped seemed like needles all over my body, one after one got into the quarry together with the teacher to see whether we drowned or died or... panic. Thing that we could never really know, since the darkness was such that I could be making the sign of "I'm out of air" and no one would know and would have to remove my dead body purple and hypothermic!

Despite all this I was enchanted by the city and it´s people. And I must say that as much as I dislike my teacher, I thanked the experience years later that simple card that allowed me to dive into the Great Barrier, the largest coral reef in the world that is in the Coral Sea , off the coast of Queensland in northeast Australia.