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Hood River New School Puerto Rico 2024

June 16, 2024

Walking out into the sun, humidity and loud conversation after about 18 hours of travel was quite the experience. The cars screaming at each other through their horns, the sun beaming off of the black tar roads and waiting for the vans felt good after sitting on a plane. We waited for the cars, loaded up and were off to the Casa Coral – an adorable little hostel, painted blue, where we were staying for the night. The drive was scenic. Colorful houses, towering trees and the beautifully timed rain that started right after we loaded up into the vans. As we arrived at Casa Coral, everyone was in shock. Right on the beach and freshwater river, amazing view and a perfect little space for us with hammocks and bunk space. We are informed of essentials / and immediately get changed for the beach. The rooms and bathrooms are comfortable and nicely decorated. We leave for the beach and the sand is velvety, the water so warm and the river is calm. Bodysurfing chaos ensued for the next couple hours. Splashing in the waves, diving, attempting to bodysurfing and much much more added to the fun of the evening. We are psyched for our first full day tomorrow!

By Arlee, Fiona, Wren

June 17, 2024

Waking up in Casa Coral was like a paradise. The sound of the waves and the smell of fresh berries brought us from our beds to a breakfast of pancakes, eggs, and fresh fruit galore. Sadly we had to pack up quickly, looking forward to coming back to this surreal place. We drove for a few minutes in the vans (with AC) to old San Juan. Once we got there we met up with a tour guide Juan he led us through the town in showing us all the historical places. We figured out that alleys (up and down) were much more tolerable with a little wind. Some of the cool things we saw were the world’s second smallest building, (only 6 feet wide), lots of adorable cats, el Moro, which is a huge fort. The fort is impressive because there are already natural caverns which allowed them to move troops through the city. We learned that the fort was attacked more than 130 times. We learned so much about the history of Puerto Rico. We saw 2 different at flags. The light blue flag , which was the earlier flag meant for independence, and the darker blue on the Puerto Rico flag meant they wanted to join the US and become the 51st state. That’s the flag still today. After that , we had lunch at Raices. A new PR food we tried was tostones. After lunch we did a little bit of souvenir shopping and headed off to the rainforest which was a beautiful drive. As we drove, it rained so hard!

As we opened the van doors many wonders awaited us. There were chickens and frogs, and dogs, cats and so many plants We noticed a huge temperature shift. Though not cold, it still felt cooler than the city. In the evening we spend time together playing cards and learning about the projects 3T and her crew are working on. Before bed, we took refreshing showers and fell asleep in our tropical paradise to the sounds of the coqui frogs.

By Lark, Sunny, Kiah, and Isabel

June 18, 2024

We wake up to a rooster crowing, the rainforest alive with noise. We meet up with 3t and discuss our work plan for the day over a breakfast of eggs, pancakes, yogurt, and fresh fruit. We set our intentions to help clear and widen trails to make space for the trees we were planting. After breakfast, we gathered our tools and our saplings and began the hike. The air became heavy as we trekked through the dense forest, clearing the sides of trails and planting trees along the way. We planted twelve Mahogany, Simaruba tulae and Goelezia elegans trees, which are all endangered. After getting back, we ate a hearty lunch of bean quesadillas. We then went to a nearby watering hole for a nice swim after all the hard work. The waterfall was such a fun experience – we took turns standing under and letting the water cascade down onto us- After cooling off and having some downtime in the cabins, it was time for dinner. We had a great meal of quinoa with beets, sweet potatoes, and salad. Then we discussed our plans for the next day over a bonfire that was built by us. After that, brownies were handed out, and we decided it was time for bed. We drifted to sleep to the sounds of the rainforest. We are ready for work in Villa del Rio tomorrow.

By Beckett, Ocean, Alex, and Judah

June 19, 2024

We woke up to the rooster crowing , and the fresh smell of rain in the jungle. Our morning started with a delicious breakfast including pancakes, toast, eggs and fresh fruit made by the wonderful cook Monique. Next we packed up and said our final goodbyes to the rainforest and our gracious host 3t, Then we loaded up into the buses and embarked on an eighty minute bus to the worksite. We refreshed ourselves with some cold water and snacks before learning what task we would be doing. Our job was to drill and screw in boards as concrete molds. Just as we were becoming proficient with the drill and boards it unexpectedly started pouring. In seconds our worksite was drenched, and there was water streaming through the narrow hallway where we were building. We quickly and effectively got into firemen’s line and brought our bags to the safety and dryness of the car. The rain stopped as quickly as it had started and not long after we were back to work. We finished our work by creating rebar columns which adds support to the cement- We worked until 1:30 and then had a delicious lunch made by Angel. (the leader of the operations) wife named Maria. We went back to Casa Coral where we swam in the ocean and river, cracked coconuts, and played card games. We ended the night reflecting about our expectations of PR before arriving and how those expectations changed once we got here .

By Bridger and Lark

June 20, 2024

We woke up at Casa Coral, ate an early breakfast, put concrete pants on, and headed to the worksite. At the worksite we worked hard on building a big concrete wall for a 16 year old girl. We use a fire line to pass buckets. We shoved rocks, sand, and cement into 12 buckets of rocks and sand for one batch of concrete. Some people got to stand on the scaffolding to dump the concrete in to the mold. On this trip we got to try many new things. At the house we were working at they had many fruit trees some we had tried and some was had never tasted. There were quenepas which tasted like a blend of peach, and leche. Our time on the worksite was very fun and busy. When we had a late lunch after work we headed back to Casa Coral, and went for a long swim in the salty ocean. After swimming we had dinner and then our salsa lesson. In salsa class we had fun dancing, tripping over each others feet, and sweating. Yar, our teacher, was amazing and was a great teacher!

By Arlie, Lucia, & Wren