I hope that all of you had a wonderful Fourth of July with friends or family this past weekend. This was the first 4th which I have missed attending, but in the end I had a great weekend, as well. I went to Uruguay with 10 other people from the study program here to get away from the city and just relax. We took a 3 hour long ferry over to a little city called Colonia and just took a couple days off - Friday and Saturday. The weekend consisted of walking around town, taking pictures, eating long meals and other restful, tranquil activities. We slept in a house which a woman rents out as a hostal, and the whole thing ended up being (ferry and all) about $70-80 USD. Not too bad in my book.
Saturday was an absolute gift of a day down here. It's the dead of winter, but it just happened to be an 82 degree day, which they apparently have every once in a while here. So, we ended up spending nearly all the day at the beach (who wouldn't do that?). We are all missing the summer up in Seattle, so to have at least one summer-like day was absolutely wonderful. We took full advantage of a Uruguayan beach we found here and relaxed. There was even some karate going on, as you can see from the picture below...do note the fact that I still have some mad hops:
The end of the day consisted in a pretty amazing sunset, a picture of which you can also see here, with a lighthouse in the foreground. Pretty neat.
My birthday is coming up tomorrow (the big 2-1...except that really doesn't matter down here?), along with Mark's (another guy in the program), so we are all trying to plan some things to do tonight and tomorrow. Tomorrow is also the Independence Day for Argentina, so there is no school and the country basically shuts down. There aren't fireworks or big family get togethers - as one person put it, everyone "just sleeps". It's kinda boring, but we are having pizza at my house for lunch, and then empanadas at Mark's house in the evening. I'm quite looking forward to that.
I finally made my way to a protestant in-Spanish church service Sunday evening, and I really enjoyed it. It was sparsely attended (as it seems most protestant churches are here), but it had a guest speaker from Colombia who did the sermon and I loved what he had to say. It was on the passage of the rich man who asks Jesus how to get to Heaven, and the speaker had a great grasp on exactly what that passage was saying. He was very knowledgable. I was also able to understand about 90% of what he said, so I was very pleased with being able to follow the sermon. My Spanish had kind of hit a plateau in terms of improvement the past week, but I feel like I'm starting to learn again. It was kind of odd how I hit that wall - but with more Spanish saturation I feel like the more nuanced complexities of the language are finally starting to seep into my speaking ability. It's so much more fun to speak a language when you can actually articulate what you want to say.
I'll end off with this photo of the lighthouse in Uruguay - a bunch of pigeons were flying around it, so I thought it was a pretty cool picture. Once again, I hope all of your summers are going fantastically!