when life hands you a lemon farm

And the next thing I knew, I was on my way to Uruguay with 100 others. My three days of class (only Tuesday to Thursday… it’s heaven) flew by, and our study abroad program was hosting a weekend getaway to Uruguay.

View of Puerto Madero in Buenos AIres
View of Puerto Madero in Buenos Aires

Our ferry was leaving at 7:30am (incredibly early for my Argentine schedule… getting up was rough), but the sunset overlooking Puerto Madera was absolutely stunning. We boarded the ferry, which was not your average ferry. We had first class tickets, so I spent the time lounging in the reclining leather chairs and shopping (aka spraying too much perfume samples) in the duty free stores on the boat.

We got off the boat, and the next thing I knew I was standing in a gigantic lemon farm. Our abroad program leader, the awesome Mario, owns a boutique hotel in the middle of a lemon plantation, just blocks from the beach. There was a pool, pond, bottles of wine, and just lemons and more lemons. My friends and I frolicked around the plantation, eating lemons raw (umm… probably wouldn’t advise this, but apparently they’re only 24 calories, high in fiber, and have limonoids which help fight cancer!?). We started our lunch with empanadas and choripán, or a grilled sausage sandwich common in Argentina and Uruguay. Then chefs proceeded to grill us gourmet steak and chicken before our eyes, along with salad, bread and homemade crackers and hummus, apple pie, lemon pie, and fresh fruit… obviously including lemons.

We spent the rest of the day laying by the pool and swimming at the beach. We were staying in the small town of Colonia, and it was such a change from bustling Buenos Aires. That night we had a tour of the city and learned about the historical influences of the pueblo, a town that’s so safe people always leave their cars unlocked and windows open.

The remainder of our trip was spent in Punta del Este, a resort city with gorgeous beaches, elegant seaside homes, and upscale hotels and clubs. We spent our days lying by the waves and our nights exploring the seaside bars. And of course, we spent all moments eating. Our study abroad program paid for the fanciest three course meals, and it was amazing to have freshly caught fish and calamari, which unfortunately aren’t too common in Buenos Aires.

As we were taking a bus to Montevideo, from where we would take a ferry back to Buenos Aires, I thought how the trip far exceeded my expectations. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect. I knew there were beautiful beaches in Uruguay, but I didn’t grasp how beautiful they would be. In some cases like this, I think it’s better to have no expectations; to be amazingly surprised; to focus on how things really are, not on how we imagine them to be; to ultimately embrace the present rather than create the future.