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Charles Wright Academy Puerto Rico 2023

January 9, 2023
We had a great first full day in Puerto Rico. This morning, we toured old San Juan with our very knowledgeable guide and, for lunch, we had Puerto Rican staples. Upon returning to the big yellow house, students had some choice time. Most of us headed to the beach.

During our tour of Old San Juan, students particularly enjoyed El Morro, the largest colonial Fort in the Caribbean. It is rich with history. One student said the highlight of his day was “the wall of the fort that had information about three different aspects of this national monument: the Spanish garrison, the US women’s battalion, and the three flags above the fort: the historic (1600-1800) burgundy cross to signal an sea port loyal to the Spanish king, the Puerto Rican flag, and the US flag.” Another student really enjoyed the views from the fort. Many of the students walked into the garitas, the little photogenic guard towers throughout the walled city.

Students really enjoyed the plantains and rice and beans at lunch. One even said it was his favorite part of the day. At the beach, students played Frisbee, dug holes in the sand, and floated on the waves. We are looking forward to starting our service project tomorrow.

January 10, 2023

Yesterday, we went to a house that was destroyed by the hurricane, and we left a positive impact. We befriended new people and we met two beautiful dogs. We moved bricks and poured concrete for roof beams. We left with a sense of accomplishment.

We went to the beach in the afternoon to play flyers, a disc game we enjoy.

The teachers made us salsa dance. We had to find partners to learn the steps. Once we had them down, we formed concentric circles of leaders and followers, and when the followers spun, we switched partners.

January 11, 2023

Today, we took a longer drive into the rainforest. We were at the only sustainable forestry project in the Caribbean. We worked with cement again, this time mixing it by hand and using a line system to carry buckets of cement down to the pathway we were restoring. Some students cut bamboo and helped tend the plants. We again really enjoyed the friendly dogs, and we also enjoyed a delicious homemade lunch. We finished the day at the beach and had a pizza dinner.

January 12, 2023

Yesterday, we were tired, but still worked hard on helping to build a house for a family that had to leave Puerto Rico after the hurricane. They will be able to come back and live near the rest of their family after another year or two of Global Works trips. We are getting to be pretty efficient at making concrete, shoveling concrete, and filling concrete molds. We had a home cooked lunch at Maria and Angel’s house and even enjoyed some fresh picked starfruit.

We headed to the beach when we got home and then cleaned and prepared the house for guests. Maria, Angel, William–the people who trained us on the job sites and worked alongside us–and their families came over for dinner. A bunch of us played soccer with the kids. We really loved meeting their one year old granddaughter. They thanked us for our hard work and shared that the most important part for Angel is that we learned about the people of Puerto Rico and what the island is really like versus what outsiders sometimes think.

January 13, 2023

Today, we went to a really special place to see Taino petroglyphs and experience a sacred space in nature. When we arrived at the site, we were greeted by the principal of the Waldorf school and the fruit farm at the edge of the forest. We took a mud bath in volcanic clay from the area and had the opportunity to swim in the river. Some students sat on the rocks enjoying the sun and the view. Lunch was prepared for us with food local to the farm near the site we visited. We enjoyed a papaya salad with a ginger carrot dressing, saffron rice, a root vegetable dish, and a grapefruit lemongrass juice.

At dinner, we had a toast to all of the things we’re grateful for this week- new friends, building community, and getting a chance to explore this amazing island. It’s been an incredible week!