Lancaster Country Day School Puerto Rico 2023
March 4, 2023
Today was our travel day to Puerto Rico! Starting at 3am in Lancaster, we began our journey. With a long bus ride to Philadelphia, we were off. After arriving at the airport, many people were questioning our matching outfits, but we all just responded with, “we are a professional salsa dancing team!” After many mishaps with security, off we went to the gorgeous island of Puerto Rico. At the airport, we met our lovely tour guides, Talia and Fabricio. Our trip group landed in the lush islands and enjoyed a beautiful scenic drive on a re-finished bus towards our destination. Our eyes were met with lots of green: palm trees, fresh grass, blue skies, clear water, large and fluffy clouds and gorgeous mountains, valleys, and rainforests. After our bus ride, we got settled into our first hostel, Casa Coral, in the quaint town of Luquillo. Being right on the edge of the beach side, the kitchen was part outdoors and had breathtaking views of dark orange sand and turquoise/clear ocean water. Our group settled into our rooms and then took a refreshing walk to the beach, where we played in the ocean and enjoyed the waves and warm air. Then our group washed off and had a delicious traditional dinner meal, consisting of beef, chicken, rice, beans, and plantain. We finished the night with creating our community contract and celebrating Jane’s birthday! We can’t wait for tomorrow!
– Julia & Sonia
March 5, 2023
We began today with a very adventurous van ride to San Juan. Drenched in sunblock we explored Old San Juan’s beautiful streets. Many cats joined us on our journey to the first fort we visited. Leading us was our tour guide for the day, Alvin. We saw various historical places as we walked along the slightly blued cobblestone. After passing by a massive cathedral we saw a large gate with a Latin inscription that meant “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” due in no small part by the Cathedral up the road. We made a game of finding a color that matches our outfits amongst the colorful houses. Finally, we reached El Morro, and spent a long time exploring the fortress. Then, we ate delicious Puerto Rican food at a local restaurant. Then, we explored another, smaller fortress, called the Castillo de San Cristobal. Then we went to three local stores and some street stalls to shop for souvenirs. After a bus ride home, the girls moved into the Surfing Turtle nearby, and then we all swam in the lagoon next to the Casa Coral where we stayed. We swam for a while and then we went back and ate dinner. We had a lot of fun today and we hope we have even more tomorrow!
– Michael & Jane
March 6, 2023
First we had pancakes along with berries, eggs and bacon. After the delicious, nutritious breakfast, we went headed to a rainforest national park named El Yunque, and hiked El Angelito trail, the trail was short and very much green with dense vegetation like bamboo trees and such, we ended in a big watering hole where we had a lot of fun swimming in the river, which was freezing at first but got lots warmer the more you were in and it was a nice contrast to the salty ocean that we have been swimming in for the past few days, some of us dried out laying on the rocks while other kept playing and swimming until we were told it was time to head out for lunch. For luch we went to a delicious beachside restaurant, and got some things such as grilled chicken, grouper or sweet plantain, and mofongo. After that we went shopping on the different small local shops and finally we all went down to the beach for some more swimming. It was much calmer as there wasn’t much waves, and then we all got some icecream before heading back Casa Coral lodge for our next activity. We went stand-up paddle boarding on the Savana River taking off from our hotel upstream, we first started sitting but progressed to standing near the end. When paddle boarding, we learned about the 3 types of mangroves (white, black, red) and that only 2 can only survive salt water. Also while paddle boarding we learned about the “coqui” frog where it gest its name from it croak which is saying “male frogs stay back and ladies come here.” Later we went to a restaurant by the luquillo beach and excellent burgers, tacos and asian style tuna bowls that were all very nice, we had a good time just chatting with each other.
Finally, we finished our day with a group game and a meeting talking about tomorrow and then rest time
-Finn, Will Nate and Owen
March 7, 2023
At the beginning of the day we headed over to the boat for snorkeling. We visited many islands, and passed by some orcas swimming north. While we were out snorkeling we saw the coral reefs, along with many species of fish and other sea creatures, like octopuses and sea turtles. Afterwards, we stopped at a beach and witnessed a beautiful proposal! When we got back from the boat ride, we headed back to the house to have some free time, where we swam in the river and rested after the long hot day. After dinner, we had some salsa dance lessons! We first practiced the steps, then put them together for the full dance. Some of us even learned how to incorporate the dip into the dancing. Then, we had one big group dance outside so we all had enough room to move around. Finally, we ended the day by talking about the best things we saw today, and a meeting about tomorrow, and then time to sleep and refresh for tomorrow.
-Emmie, Jack and Aiden
March 8, 2023
We woke up on refreshing morning and ate pancakes, bacon, eggs and a nice surprise of berries. Some people loved the bread so much they turned it into competition to see who could eat the most and the anonymous winner was Will. After breakfast, our group drove to the Northeast Ecological Reserve to start our service day. We trekked through the wilderness of the forest, and made a makeshift bridge to cross over a murky puddle. Then our service project coordinators showed us the site full of debris and brush and demonstrated what and how we were going to clear the area. Then we got to work, we had people raking, clearing away brush, clipping branches and we even started a coconut assembly line to get the work done faster. Soon after a lot of hard work we stopped for a break to have lunch and ask Carlos and Ramon the questions we had made the day prior. Next we got to work clearing away a new area and made a another coconut assembly line that split into two for productivity. After we finished our service work the boys headed back to casa coral and the girls to surfing turtle once back at the houses we cleaned up and packed our bags in preparation for our move to the big yellow house tomorrow. At 4 we had a nice snack because we would have a late dinner so we had some smoky pizza and some said it even tickled their tongue. After dinner we headed to bus stop where we waited for its arrival, we then hopped on the bus and headed to the kayaking site we we got suited up in life vests and got prepped with training for our kayaking adventure. We headed into the warm water and climbed into our kayaks with our partners. Once everyone was in and ready we headed out swerving and moving through the canals and mangroves trying not to run into each other. We finally got to our spot in the lagoon and got a nice view of many stars, constellations and planets and got prepared to see the bioluminescent algae and to block out light pollution to see them better we places a black tarp over our kayaks which had a slight musty smell to it . We then placed our hands in the water and swished them around watched the little greenish-yellowey-white algae in the water and on our hands. Once we saw the algae we started paddled back water splashing out bodies left and right, even darker at this point there were more collisions and someone may have possibly had a leach on their arm. As we finally got back from out 4 mile trip we dined on some snacks and waited for the bus to arrive. We then headed back to casa coral for a late dinner and prepared for bed for the early arrival and move tomorrow.
– Tyler, Nick, Sonia
March 9, 2023
Today we woke up early after a long night on the bus. This morning was our first morning with waffles but abuela Lucy brought lots of other stuff. We packed up all of our stuff and headed out to the bus with our stuff. We arrived at the beach where our surfing lesson was held. Surfing was very fun, most people fell off but some people had some good runs in. Afterwards we just played in the water for a bit but it was fun overall. Surfing was done and everyone was tired because of the waves. It took around 10 to 15 minutes to get to the restaurant, Los Piñons. The restaurant had a great view of the ocean and a city in the background. When we arrived everyone was very hungry. The food was very good and every one had a good time talking about surfing and the rest of the trip. Then we took about an hour drive to reach the big yellow house. When we got to the big yellow house the transition was pretty quick. We saw that it had a basketball court, volleyball net, and a ton of iguana’s. I think big was an understatement because this house is huge. We all took time to have fun and played around with each other so we could get used to the big yellow house. A little later we went on a walk to the beach. When we got to the beach we traveled to a higher location and saw an amazing scenic view with trees, mountains, and the ocean. We then headed back to the big yellow house for dinner. For dinner we had chicken, salad, plant based chicken nuggets, and yellow rice with veggies. It was delicious. After dinner we played around for a little more, then we watched a documentary about Puerto Rico that had Zac Efron in it. We learned a lot about how hurricanes effect people each day and what they do about it. We then went over a debriefing for the next day, and we done for the night.
– Momin, Chris, David
March 10, 2023
Today we went on an adventure to Utuado. We met up with a guide named Mika she showed us around this big green mountain. It was very peaceful listening to the calming birds and water. On this adventure Mika led us to this strong and tropical river where we messaged our skin with therapeutic clay/mud which connected us with the earth. Once we lathered our skin we jumped into the cold refreshing water excitedly. Once we chilled in the river we swam our way over to these big warm rocks. On our way there it was rough walking on all the rocks in the river. On these rocks there was engraved petroglyphs, those are ancient carvings that appeared on the rocks after hurricane Maria. Once they finished teaching us about the history behind the petroglyphs we made our way back to the warm rocks. We then made our way out and dried off while some of us continued to cannonball into the river multiple times again. We then made our way back up the mountain to have the most delicious lunch ever. It was this super yummy meal made up of bean balls, rice with cilantro, tortillas, watermelon juice and cilantro sauce. The whole meal was amazing!
We then made our way back to the bus and continued our adventure later. After we rode the bus for 30 minutes, we arrived at the waterfall! It was located in a gorgeous luscious forest surrounded by tall green trees. We all played in the water and some kids put their heads into the water fall. At the waterfall people were skipping stones as-well! Once we were done at the waterfall, we took the bus back to the Big Yellow House.
Then, we had about an hour of free time before our dinner. People talked together, played volleyball and basketball, and even played World Cup in the backyard. For dinner there was chicken, potatoes, salad, and yellow rice. After everyone was done eating we had a group reflection. Everyone closed their eyes as Talia and Fabricio went through our entire trip. We all reminisced the memories that we made in Puerto Rico, and when we were done we played a game! The game was about noticing and appreciating people that made your trip special. Once that was over we had a group hug and wrote letters to our future selves. These letters will be sent to us in a year, and we can all be reminded about the great time we had in Puerto Rico! After everyone was done writing, we celebrated our last day in Puerto Rico with ice cream and cupcakes. Next stop, the airport!
– August and Lily
March 11, 2023
We woke up on our last day with an option to sleep in or spend the last few moments on the beach. Most students choose to sleep while a few headed out with Mr. Mylan and Fabricio to enjoy the beach one last time. The French toast sticks for breakfast were a hit. We all said our goodbyes and gave gratitude to each other for all that we accomplished together this week. We dropped off the group at the airport and off they went! We will always remember this group for their positive attitude, willingness to try new things and their over all respect for everyone they met on the island. We hope to see you all soon!
Talia and Fabricio