I know I've been really bad at posting, but I've been so busy. The last week flew by but it seems like I've been here forever. On Thursday of last week, a lot of the students and I had a barbecue. We ate grilled meat, sweet potatoes, onions, corn, and a few different things. Friday night, I said goodbye to two friends who would be leaving in the morning. Saturday night I went out for pizza with Karin, a girl from Switzerland, Anssi (a guy from Finland), Jason (from South Africa, but has been living in Montevideo for a few years), and Mauricio (from Brazil). It was Mauricio's last night in Uruguay. We discussed everything from politics (very interesting to see the perspectives since everyone is from a different country) to pick up lines to jokes (difficult with the language barrier because some just don't translate). It was sad saying goodbye to Mauricio. He's hilarious and fun to hang out with. I hope I see him again someday. It's sad to think that when I say goodbye to people, I'll probably never see them again.
On Friday I went a parade for Carnaval with everyone. Carnaval is an African celebration where people play "candombes," or drums. The parade was very interesting. There were a lot of guys dressed as girls, a lot of advertisements (especially for the beer Pilsen), and a lot of nearly naked women dancing. Kids sprayed foam all over and ran up and laid down when people carried banners so that the banners would go over them. It was like a game. There were also a lot of people selling stuff. The vendors walked right in the way when we were trying to watch the parade and there were people walking around the whole time so it was really difficult to get pictures or even to see well. It wasn't worth it to pay for the seat. There were also huge gaps between floats. It started at 9 at night in Ciudad Vieja and we left at about 11. It was only about half over by then.
Sunday I went to Punta del Este with Karin, Jan (from Germany), Stefani (from Germany) and Camilla (from Brazil). Punta del Este is a very touristy city. It's only busy in the winter. It was like a rich-peoples' version of Uruguay. Nice beachside houses with pools and tennis courts. A beautiful place in South America without having to see the poverty. It's very artificial. But the beaches are nice.
I went horse riding twice so far. I love the ranch (estancia). It's gorgeous. The house and guest house (where I'll be living next month) are very rustic looking. The air is fresh. The countryside (el campo) is beautiful and there's a lot of room for riding. There are cows and sheep grazing everywhere. Yesterday I saw a baby calf that the cowboy (el gaucho) said was only four days old! It was so cute! It was drinking and had milk all around it's mouth. I think I'll like living and working there.
Uruguay is really nice. Most people are very helpful when they realize that you don't speak Spanish well. They talk slow and explain things. I love how I can travel everywhere either on foot or in a bus. It gets tiring sometimes but I get good exercise and I have much more freedom when I don't have to buy gas or rely on someone with a car. Even if I'm in Atlantida where the estancia is, I can hop on a bus back to the city. And everyone here has a dog. If you go to the supermarket, there's always a dog or two parked outside. People don't clean up after their dogs though, so watch where you're walking when you're walking down the sidewalk. On a walk to the neighborhood supermarket, it's common to see 10-15 different dogs being walked or wandering around on their own. Uruguay is a great place to live if you don't expect everything to be perfect, clean and fancy. If you want to live in a happy bubble, go to Punta del Este. If anyone has any questions about Uruguay and/or my experiences or thoughts, feel free to ask. <3 Hannah