After a week of being in the city, we have finally made it to the beginning of the 200-kilometer stretch of the route of the whale. We arrived early afternoon to this beautiful city with white sandy beaches along the Río de la Plata. It’s offseason for tourism in Piriápolis as winter finishes up and the town prepares for spring. Piriápolis is a fishing town east of Montevideo with a rich history founded on the four elements—earth, fire, water, and air. This echoes among the architecture and sentiment of the mystical city.
We ventured to the marina to find traditional fishermen to hear their story about the lifestyle and relationship with the sea. The story we found was about a fisherman who saw a whale when he was surfing. After the interview, he took us back to his house to show us pictures from the majestic event. The sea is everything to the people here, not just a means to an end. It represents their culture, history, and lifestyle. The potential development of the deep seaport and further seismic exploration threatens centuries of life by the sea. The interviews with the fishermen showed us the lack of awareness about the OCC and their work along the route. The farther north we traveled, the more we learned that the residents of most traditional communities are receiving little environmental education in the schools and almost no information from the nation’s journalists, who tend to focus on events only in Montevideo. Rarely do they focus on environmental issues about Uruguay’s most beloved natural treasure: miles of white sandy beaches, still empty of people and development, or that all of this may soon change.