Today, when I finally had wifi on the bus (fascinating right?!), I was able to reply to my mother’s text asking how the week was going. Without any hesitation whatsoever, I told her that I had just had the best day of my life. I know what you’re thinking, because I would think the same thing if I were in your shoes. “She’s just caught up in the moment,” or “she’s just exaggerating so her parents won’t worry about her.” No. I was being extremely honest, and I will tell you why.
We started our day at Mr. Numa Falaventi’s farm, and it was incredible. His land was beautiful, with rolling hills and a blue sky as far as you could see. He taught us about his sheep, and I was astounded to learn that he managed 4,000 ewes and that he was lambing year-round. He also had to Norman cows (which I had never even heard of) on his farm, and he told us how they were a dual-purpose breed that was used for both beef and dairy production. He was an incredible individual with some amazing stories, and I left his farm knowing the genuine hospitable nature of Uruguay. It was the one moment on the trip so far that I most regretted not knowing more Spanish because I truly wish I could have talked to him more and learned more about his life.
The next farm was managed by Mr. Jose Ortiz. The farm raised beef cattle, horses and some sheep, and also had some land devoted to rice production. The cattle herd was mainly composed of Herefords but I was interested to learn that they did cross some of the animals with Red Angus in order to keep the red color while increasing calving ease and marbling in their animals. The horses were a specific breed called Creollos and were a very Spanish-type breed with a stocky build and a long nose. I fell in love with this breed when Jose allowed us to ride some of the horses to herd some of the cattle. They were very smooth gaited animals, and I felt like I would have had no problem spending the summer on horseback with the other gauchos herding cattle each day on the beautiful countryside.
After a long day of learning and seeing some of the most beautiful land in Uruguay, many of us were already having an amazing time. But as we were walking back to the house for the “carne asada” being prepared for dinner, Jose asked if any of us wanted to play soccer before the meal. A simple game turned into full-on competition when the teams divided into girls against guys. The entire time, we laughed and were having the time of our lives. It was in that moment that I realized how much I loved everything about this trip. I loved the community I had built with these people I had met only about four days before. I loved the land and the agriculture that we had experienced so far in the country. I loved the culture and social atmosphere in the Uruguayan culture. I don’t know what made me have this realization in the middle of a fully-fledged soccer match, but I do know that I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity I had been given to travel to this country and fall in love with it in only a couple of days.