To the south of Brazil is Uruguay, a relatively small country on South America’s eastern coast that experiences heavy ship traffic along its 410-mile shoreline.
Twenty-three active lighthouses protect ships along Uruguay’s ocean borders, all built between the late 1800s and the early 1900s. They are owned and operated by Uruguay’s navy, the Armada Nacional.
Cabo Polonio Faro (faro is the Spanish word for lighthouse) was built in 1881 on a remote peninsula on Uruguay’s eastern shore. Leonardo da Costa is one of two keepers who alternate two-week-long shifts manning the lighthouse.
Like any lighthouse, Cabo Polonio Faro requires daily maintenance. When Costa is on duty he is solely responsible for repairs and for operating the lighthouse manually if it loses power.
Costa’s neighbors are few. Seal colonies live on nearby islands, and the remote village of Cabo Polonio, about a half-mile away to the west, is home to fewer than 100 people. Solar panels and wind turbines power their homes, and they lack running water.
Cabo Polonio can only be reached by walking or by using four-wheel-drive trucks to cross dunes of sand to the road nearest the village; no public roads reach the lighthouse or the village. Life on the secluded cape is quiet and solitary.
This video was made by Kauri Multimedia, a group that uses film to highlight the hectic pace of modern life. Read an interview with the filmmakers here and visit their website for more thoughtful films at KauriMultimedia.