One of my favorite stops so far this week has been El Paraiso, a ranch that is home to Mr. Jose Gayo and his family. Jose raises beef cattle and a few horses, while also growing rice. He allowed us to ride his horses while the sun set and was gracious enough to host us for a home-cooked meal afterwards. Jose’s family cooked fresh lamb, rice, and vegetables for us, and it was by far the most delicious meal we’ve had.
However, the best part of the evening was not the fresh meal or the sunset horseback riding; it was the company of Jose’s entire family, especially his son and nieces. Rodrigo, Josefina, and Isabela were all roughly our age and grew up speaking English in school. These were some of the first people we met that spoke English comfortably enough to have in-depth conversations with us about more than just production agriculture. They filled us in on everything from the Uruguayan education system to how and where they usually spent their free time. We laughed and bonded with them throughout the evening, and many of us added them on various social media platforms so that we can keep in touch after the trip. I will never forget these people or the day we spent at El Paraiso in Treinta y Tres.