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Aspen Community School Puerto Rico 2023

May 3, 2023

We kicked off to a great start bright and early at 6:30 in the morning. Then we ate a delicious breakfast of bread, eggs, pancakes and fruit. From there we hopped into the van and headed out to Old San Juan. Then our guide, Alvin, lead us all through the town with the most stunning architecture you’ve ever seen. The heat was really getting to the group about 11:00 so we made a pit stop to eat Piraguas – a Puerto Rico version of sorbet. The cold treat felt amazing and that kept us motivated enough to make it to a couple more tourist spots and then lunch. Our traditional Puerto Rican unch was quick and good and then we kept going until we went to the historic fort and onto souvenir shopping. Then finally after our long day in the sun we hopped back in the vans and took a nice nap during the hour drive before we enjoyed some more fun at the place we were begging to go the whole day…
After walking around the town all day in the hot sun everyone was waiting to jump in the ocean. We put on our swimsuits and headed over. We had to walk for a while to make sure the water was safe enough to swim in but once we did no one wanted to come out. Once our time in the water was up we walked back and stopped on the way to see sea turtle nests. We did an activity before people went into shower or spend some time in the river. Then we had an amazing dinner before setting out community expectations for the week and getting ready for bed.

By Lizzy and Ava

May 4, 2023

For the second day we did service work. We went and worked on a house that was destroyed by a hurricane. Villa del Rio is where we went to begin the construction of part of the house. Our local partners, Angel and Willy taught us how to build rebar scaffolding. We learned how to measure it and secure it into a skeleton for the walls. We bended metal wire around the rebar to hold it together. We had so much fun hauling the rebar and putting it together, the physical work was fun but the day was very hot. We were all so sweaty. The vast humidity of the scorching day made it quite hot to work. The people that were teaching us to do the work were incredibly nice and hospitable. We ate rice for most of the meals today. Me personally, I love the Puerto Rican cuisine Then we went to the beach and had lots of fun. The deep blue waves crashed hard on the sand and made us shiver with excitement. We swam throughout the afternoon, the tide was clear cerulean blue and the water temperature was below the average air temperature of Puerto Rico. The cold water splashed against our warm bodies as we ran in, the ocean was shallow. Trevor spotted the shark first he yelled “shark shark” but everyone thought he was joking. Then every else saw the dark fin jutting out of the the water. Then splash the water turned red! JK goodbye!

By Anderson, Trevor, Hudson

May 5, 2023

Today we woke up to very loud music and a delicious breakfast and went back the work site to do more work with Angel, Willy, Wilfredo , and Eggy. It was almost 100 degrees, and when we got juice boxes during a breaker all of us were refreshed. The two projects we did today in different groups was building a retaining wall and and doing more rebar work. When we were done working we went to lunch. Maria made spaghetti and meatballs. It was absolutely amazing. After lunch we returned to our house then went to the river and played capture the flag. We had a dinner of salmon, steak, rice and beans, and salad. After a salsa dance lesson then we went to a market and bought souvenirs.

By Max, Bo, Luke

May 6, 2023

This morning we got a couple more minutes of sleep before our personal Satya alarm came in to wake us all. We had a slow start to the morning before we all hopped into the vans and headed off to ECOSOL, a nonprofit that works on ecotourism. When we arrived we had a quick pep talk then started to scrape paint off walls. The work was not the most enjoyable but we kept in mind the bigger picture of how this office will soon be contributing to funding the community of ecotourism. After a couple hours of work then we got to cool off in the river below.
At the river, the girls dunked their heads and the boys made face paint. After we went to that river spot we went back to our house on the beach and swam at the river spot in our front yard. Once everyone had showered and dried off, we put on our nice cloths and got into the vans. After a very long, boring bus ride we got to the place where they were cooking pigs (called lechon in Puerto Rico). After dinner and an encounter with a pregnant dog we went to find a spot to practice our salsa dancing. We danced for about an hour and then had the long car ride home. We talked about fried chicken and the beautiful moon.

By Lizzy, Bo, Ava

May 7, 2023

This morning we all woke up before the lovely music that is worse than having only 5 million power in Rise of Kingdoms. We had to pack our backpacks for cement today. I (Wyatt) personally was excited because I thought we were going to practice our tae kwon do in a huge cement roller like they do in Cobra Kai. But when we got there we saw a little cement roller and the dogs came running to the car. A few of us were tasked to shovel the dirt and rocks into the cement mixer while the rest of us made a conga line of buckets of cement to lay down in the foundation for Furro’s wall. As I (Wyatt) shoveled the cement from the tractor to the buckets other people were handing them like firefighters handing water buckets. And Angel dumped it into the floor for the walls. There was a group of four people shoveling the dirt and rocks. Although only midway through, Natalie, Hudson, and Ava all left me like my points in Fortnite Ranked when I had lost in a match.

Then for lunch we had salad, pasta, and chicken nuggets. We also had limbel which is a popsicle in a cup. We had a good 30 minutes for lunch and got right back to the fire line and passing concrete down the line. We finished the cement project, had cake and a dance party to celebrate, then had to say goodbye to the community members but we wanted to stay longer. Everyone was sad and flabbergasted by Maria saying that Eggy (her son) had a medical disorder. Eggy was super cool and everyone was friends with him by the end. From the worksite, we left to go play in the river and then showered and had a dinner of chicken, kingfish, and rice. We settled down, wrote about our experience through the day, and had a reflection on the service day before finally going to bed.

By Wyatt, Max, and Echo

May 8, 2023

Today the whole group decided to wake up at 5:30 to do a sunrise swim. Then we all ate breakfast and started walking to the work site. It was our first day working at this specific site and we learned a lot about why we were clearing the coastal area. We cleared it for the scientists so they can camp in the area to research flora and the fauna. We worked for a few hours and cleared out dead trees with termites that crawled on us and created a new trail for kayak access. When we were done we walked across a river and walked on the sand bar to get back to Casa Coral. Then we changed into swimsuits and walked to a delicious gyro place for lunch. We then went for a swim in the ocean then in the river then we had some relaxation time before a rib dinner. After that we played charades before heading off to bed.

By Luke, Anderson, Echo

May 9, 2023

The group started the morning with breakfast and preparation for our day in the rainforest. At 8 am we left the house for a 30 minute drive to meet our guide: Ray. We drove 15 more minutes up into the mountains before we arrived at our destination. Ray informed us about some of the history of Puerto Rico and the indigenous people whose land we were on. We began our trip up the hill in silence to “be in touch with nature and listen to the birds” -Satya. Then we made it to the river and dropped our backpacks and put on our very protective airplane lifejackets. Ray split us into groups that didn’t stick and half of us started our venture down the river while the other kids stayed and swam in the natural swimming hole. With the lifejackets, of course. The first group to go see the petroglyphs made their way across the river. We hopped over rocks, as slow as we possibly could. With our lifejackets of course. Ray led us down the beautiful river and described the petroglyphs of the babies that were born in the river and chosen by the birds to be chiefs. It was super tubular. We then ventured back on up the river (yeehaw!) and the second group embarked on their journey. With their life jackets of course. After our silent hike back down, we drove to lunch. A community member named Maria cooked for us. It was super tubular. Then after lunch we drove into town and purchased some refreshing smoothies. Mine was the best. Then we did some super sick souvenir shopping. We arrived back at our casa and did some super sick swimming in the river. For dinner we went to a local pizza place which was super tubular. And we’re now late for bed. Goodnight. Yeehaw.

By Greyson and Spencer

May 10, 2023

Today we arose and got ready for our day. Then we got picked up for our hike in El Yunque. After we drove 30 minutes into the rainforest we reached the parking spot where the owner looked like the guy from Up. After we had a little talk we made our way up the slippery trail. After some hiking we made it to this little crack in the path. It looked like something we would step over but our guide told us we were going down into it. Wowza! We squeezed down the crack and emerged into a big break in the trees all around the river. The water was a deep blue and very clear. There were jagged rocks and rope swings all around that Danny (our guide) told us we could jump off. Except the rope swings, we couldn’t use those. We spent an hour jumping off the cliffs and having competitions in the refreshing water before venturing back on down the mountain. We made it to the vans and headed to lunch. When we pulled up it was a strip mall called the kioskos. Then we walked up and down the strip mall and got some souvenirs. Afterwards we went to lunch and had mostly cheeseburgers. Then we went to the beach. Soon the beach was meet with our feet. The water enveloped us as we swam. We went back to the house for a 4:30 dinner. Anderson ate some steak while playing an intense game of chess. We had our towels and were ready to leave at 5:30 for the bioluminescent bay. Once we arrived we were greeted by a team who would guide us. Paddling through the ocean channel was hard, but we made it to the bay just in time to see the sunset. The sun ducked behind the mountain and it was dark. We put our hands in the water and saw the little sparkles of luminescence. Very lit and cool. We made it back through the pitch black canal and were greeted once again with some snacks for the ride home. It’s 9:57 and way past lights out bed time so I got to go!

By Spencer, Natalee & Greyson

May 11, 2023

Today we were able to sleep in till 7:30. Trevor decided to wake the boys up at 6:15 though. This morning we got to eat a really good breakfast of waffles and cereal. Then we headed out to the organic farm. When we arrived, we were greeted by a kind family. Everybody was so welcoming and nice. We all did yoga in a field with one of the leaders. It was hot and a little uncomfortable but we still participated in a fun yoga class. We then went and planted some basil and lettuce. We planted it into the ground in greenhouses, it was kinda relaxing and satisfying. We had veggie burgers for lunch, they were really good. We also got hibiscus tea which was a refreshing addition. When we got home, our class had our last swim in the river. Lauren bought us Sprite and it was nice. Then we did a very confusing activity. Our whole class had to line up and we had to draw different activities that we did over the course of this trip. Then we had to get in order based on when the events occurred. We talked about our trip, and had a reflection circle. This is a trip we will all remember. We fly home tomorrow, and that’s an early morning. So we better get to bed!!

By Natalee, Hudson, Trevor