Empty beaches and empty dunes, I love them. Quite difficult if you live in Europe I would say. In Belgium we have wonderful beaches, but we have such a short coastline (67km) and there are so many people (10 million Belgians, plus Germans and Dutch that like our coast more then they like theirs), that in order to see it relatively empty, you must go in winter and when the weather is horrible. That’s not so hard –waiting for horrible weather I mean. I would avoid the beach at any other time of year.
When I still lived over there, we used to spend each month of august in the south of France. Yes we were that kind of Belgian. Around the end of July we would stuff our car full of luggage, as much as it could take -including the two kids in the back-, and we would drive 10 hours southwards. The south of France is not only the closest place where the weather in summer is generally perfect, we Flemish are also naturally good in French, having had more French in school then one can handle –that is probably why they call it our 2nd language. Our neighbors, the Dutch, are usually much more courageous and they take it a lot further, no matter what language they speak, they drive until the south of Spain, the south Italy,… we don’t. During these months of august, my feet never touched the sand, I mean : did you ever see the French beaches in august? There is no place to put your foot!
So it comes as no surprise that I love Argentina and its empty dunes and beaches. There are beaches where you can take your dog, you can take your ATV (4-track/cuatri) or even go to the water with your jeep. Totally unthinkable in Belgium or the south of France. Of course you can’t do this on Playa Grande in Mar del Plata –probably the most crowdy beach of the country-, but the coastline is so long that there are lots of places where all this is possible.
We usually go to Cariló, because they have real nice empty dunes there, and –not in the least- because we have friends there. With a son who is absolutely crazy about everything that has wheels and engines, Cariló is beyond doubt his top 3 of favorite places in the world. From the second we arrived there he would take the 4-track and be gone with his friend all day.
Nowadays, this same boy lives in the all-concrete and paved roads city of Ghent, where 4-tracks are not only forbidden, they are useless. (And the ‘poor kid’ can’t even drive a car, as after 10 weeks in Belgium, he still didn’t get his ID, so he still couldn’t go for his drivers license. Didn’t we think that these things would go faster in a first world country?)
But the fact that my son is ‘stuck’ there, doesn’t stop us from going to the seaside here. Although the huge empty dunes of Cariló have lost their magic to me -they are his territories and driving through them knowing that he’s not around with his 4-track just reminds me even more of his absence. The rest of my family doesn’t really mind, they love the dunes too much to be scared off by some emotional twist. And while they were off, I went for a long walk with my friend on the almost empty beach, which is almost as much fun.
Although the beach was quite empty, the center wasn’t. Easter week, or Samana Santa, is obviously a top touristic weekend. Too cold to lay down on the beach, but perfect to go shopping and have lunch in the center. The center is small but compact, with nice shops and good restaurants. I just love Cariló!