Las Toscas, Uruguay: Childhood memories and the smell of the summer

Sometimes, when you have been going to a place your whole life, you tend to take it for granted.  There is a tiny beach spot on Uruguay´s Golden coast where I spent all of my childood summers, because my family has owned a house there for several decades.

Back in those days, the neighboring Atlantida was the second hippest place to go out at night during the summer after Punta del Este. When we were kids, we would spend the whole three summer months out there, riding our bikes, playing the woods and building houses from tree branches, having water wars during carnival and, of course, going to the beach.

There were a bunch of “gangs” out there. There were the kids from the French schools, the kids from the Italian School, the locals, etc. Each group would commonly ride their bikes en masse to go play videogames like Pacman and Galaxy at downtown Parque del Plata or Atlantida, enjoying the freedom of being allowed to roam free around those streets with no asphalt and very little traffic.

When we grew up, we had our first disco nights there. We would hitchhike to the hip discos in Atlantida; one time we even brought our housekeeper with us. It was rather safe to hitchhike there back then and everybody was doing it. Some of us had our first boyfriends/girlfriends there, fell in love for the first time, had our first drink, our first kiss, our first crush; it all happened there.

The E street beach; our beach.

Over the years, as me and my 4 brothers and sisters grew older, we developed a taste for other, more savage and oceanic parts of the coast, such as Cabo Polonio (my place in the world for many years), La Pedrera, and Punta del Diablo, as well as the ubiquitous Punta del Este. In the meantime, Las Toscas also changed. The wood on the little hill behind and on the side of our house disappeared, there was fencing put on, and part of our memories lost their physical place.

To me, Las Toscas is generally what I do when I can´t really go somewhere else for whatever reason. However, there is a feeling I get when I first get off the car or the bus on arriving there, when I smell the ocean and the wet grass and walk over those pebbled streets and hear the noise of my footsteps; it´s such a wonderful feeling, it speaks of nature and freedom and relaxation, it brings back all of my happy childhood memories in one single waft of air.

Rediscovering breathtaking beauty after thirty odd summers

One other thing I have realized after traveling to beaches the world over is that the Las Toscas beach ranks pretty high in natural beauty compared to most of them. It is a long sandy beach with an endless horizon, crowned by the hills of Piriapolis on the East, lined by sand dunes and tall pine trees.

These days, it has also become the place where the family gets together to enjoy my brother´s calzone, my dad´s barbecues or a glass of champagne with my wonderful sisters (both in blood and in-law), and where we build sandcastles and invent crazy games with my nephew and nieces. Added to the fact that the air still smells like paradise even today, the skies are ever so starry, and there are no tall buildings around whatsoever, these things make Las Toscas a place whose appeal has not been in the least ruined by habit,

Chilling in our backyard with my niece
Our little guest house on a hill




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3 comments on “Las Toscas, Uruguay: Childhood memories and the smell of the summer

  1. Estaba buscando algo sobre Las Toscas y encontré tu nota y me encantó.
    Lo extraño es que hablás de tiempos pasados como si fueran muchos años atras pero despues viendo el resto de tus publicaciones me di cuenta que sos de otra generacion mucho mas joven.
    Eso es lo que impresiona; como evocas lo que para mi no es mucho tiempo, y que yo ya veia todo cambiado con respecto a la época de mi niñez ahí.
    Y lo otro es que tambien he vivido en otros lugares y sentía igual con respecto a Las Toscas.
    Como siempre pasa entre uruguayos, si tus padres tienen esa casa desde hace mucho tiempo, es probable que conocieran a mis padres que vivieron casi siempre en la calle 18.
    Tengo un clip filmado desde el médano de la D en el verano del 65 (sin rambla, por supuesto), con un paneo de la playa en un día de verano. Está en youtube aquí >
    Y a propósito de eso te pregunto si tenés imágenes de Las Toscas “antigua”, o conocés quien pueda tener, especialmente fotos del muelle (que se vino abajo a fin del 79).
    Desde ya muchas gracias y te felicito por todo lo tuyo.

  2. Muy lindo tu relato, sobre todo para alguien que está contando los días que le faltan para volver exactamente a ese lugar, luego de 37 años de vivir fuera de Uruguay. En estos días, pensando en la casita que he venido preparando pacientemente desde hace casi diez años en Las Toscas, y de la que tan poco he podido disfrutar, se me llenan los ojos de lágrimas mirando el calendario, casi no lo puedo creer que finalmente estaré viviendo allí.
    La ansiedad a veces hace que haga búsquedas que me acerquen a Las Toscas, y así encontré tu blog. Muchas gracias.

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