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Moorestown Friends School – Puerto Rico 2022

March 18, 2022

A Great First Day in The Big Yellow House!

We got to school at 6am, drove to Philly, and got onto the plane around 10:00am. The plane ride was really fast and we made friends with the crew that worked on the plane. We even got to take cool pictures in the cock pit! Once we got to PR, we ate pizza and then went straight to the beach. We played a group game of football on the beach which was super fun. The weather was so nice and we really enjoyed/missed soaking in the sun! Being here in Puerto Rico has really made us realize that we need the summer to come around faster. After coming back to the big yellow house, which is actually big AND yellow, we ate delicious rice, salad and chicken/salmon we did some bonding activities. The activities really helped us figure out what we hope to gain from this amazing trip. We can not wait for day two and to actually complete some service! Yay Puerto Rico!!!

⁃ Nia, Natalie, Roni and Ava

March 19, 2022

On our second day in Puerto Rico. We had a day tour of Old San Juan with our tour guide Alvin. Alvin was an amazing tour guide who informed us about the history of Old San Juan dating back to the fifteen hundreds. On the tour we explored the rich history embedded in the streets, buildings, churches, and fortresses. Old San Juan has breathtaking scenery on every street and there was no better guide to explore it with than Alvin.
Today we went to El juborito for lunch. We had three choices including garlic chicken, chicken stew, and pork ribs. Each dish was served with white or yellow rice and a small salad. We also had fried plantains and deserts. Everything was delicious and so flavorful. We would recommend it to anyone. Definitely a 10 out of 10.

After lunch, we headed to the second fort on the island of San Juan. Although it was much smaller, the fortress was modernized for WW1. The best part of the tour was when we climbed its many stairs to capture a view of the entire island and its surroundings. I got to see sailboats venturing out of the bay and into the ocean and small planes landing on the airport nearby. Once our tour of the fort ended, we had time to buy souvenirs and drinks at the town’s shops. We made a quick stop at the local market before hopping on the bus back to the big yellow house.

After the bus ride back, we went to the beach to cool off after the hot day. The beach was more packed then the last day, but the views were just as beautiful. The water was cool and refreshing, while some of us played spikeball and football, most of us ended up relaxing and enjoying the late afternoon breeze. We returned to the Big Yellow House for a dinner of penne steak and salad, and watched a documentary about the impact of the hurricanes on Puerto Rico to prepare for our service tomorrow. Can’t wait to see how it goes!

March 20, 2022

Jayden, Colin, Ryan, Nathan

First half of work day
We began the day at 9:30 am with an introduction on how to do construction from both William and Angel. We were constructing a house for Angels daughter, Anna (Maria) and he started by thanking us for the work we were about to do. We began by learning how to fasten the wires and rods together to create sturdy columns that would be used for the concrete. After a few sessions of watching we quickly got the hang of it and were eager to finish. After 2 hours of working we were ready for lunch prepared by Williams wife, Maria. Just a few houses away, we climbed to a feast of food. She served us rice and beans, fried chicken, bean salad, regular salad, macaroni salad, and tostones. We all enjoyed this amazing lunch and it revived us for another 2 hours of work.

2nd half of work day

We split into two groups. One group continued to build 2 more columns. The other group walked up the hill to another house. They moved cinder blocks up a ramp for the construction of another house. Once the work day ended, all of us went to the grocery store to pick up snacks, including some Puerto Rican food!

Beach time

After the long day of hard work at the work site, we went back to the big yellow house to change. From there, we walked as a group to the beach. The sun was beaming over our heads and the sand was soothing. Today was a great day to bond. With some people throwing a football to others swimming in the ocean. Everyone was having fun. Before we had to leave , everyone rushed to the water to take a photo.

Salsa Dancing

After dinner, Jay, the salsa dancing teacher, came to the Big Yellow House. He introduced himself and told us that we had to be focused. Jay taught us three different steps, one turn, and a step called a cross step. At first it seemed easy, but when we partnered up to try the steps it got more difficult. Some people got the hang of things quickly, while others were a bit more confused. Jay then put on some music and we danced with our partners. It was really nice to see people getting into the dancing. At the end of our lesson, Jay and Ari showed off their impressive moves to the group! 💃

-Shriya, Cassie, Annika, Shan

March 21, 2022

What a day. Day 4 in Puerto proved to not only be meaningful, but also emotional. Our morning started with a gorgeous walk down the beach and through a trail. We saw beautiful coves that surround the Cerro Gordo region. Waves crashing against volcanic rock with a beautiful sunshine overtop was a great way to start the day. After eating breakfast and getting dressed for work, we left for our second day of service in Via del Rio. While the work we did yesterday required more learning about the building process, today was manual labour in a scorching heat. Despite the sweat and exhaustion, it felt great to make an impact. We spent around 3 hours laying concrete before we broke for lunch. For the second day in a row, Maria graciously hosted all of us in her house by cooking, providing bathrooms, and letting us play with her grandchildren. Lunch was Pollo guisado, a Puerto Rican twist on chicken stew. After eating lunch, we heard from Willy and Ángel as they spoke about how much our work the last two days meant to them, especially because we were setting the foundation for Ángel’s daughter’s house. It was an emotional experience, and one of the most fullfing things of our lives. We finished out the day with some each time and a debrief of the work.

Only one more day 🙁
Andrew and Heera

March 22, 2022

Final blog: Our last day was full of fun and more than anything…water. we packed up and left the big yellow house to head to El Yunque Rainforest. We hiked down and trail under the canopy of the forest to the most beautiful swimming holes. We hopped around on rocks until it was time to head to the beach. There we ate mofongo – a typical Puerto Rican dish made of plantains. We then checked into our beautiful new hostel called Casa Corral in the town of Luquillo. We had more beach time as almost a whole group played spike ball and football in the sand. Our last adventure was kayaking at night in the bioluminescent Bay. Once we got to the Big Lagoon we put our hands in the water and saw the sparkles of the bioluminescence. It was already late when we got back to our hostel and had our final debrief, sharing so many fond memories from our trip. Our teachers bought us ice cream and we finished the night off with dessert and poker! The bus is picking us up soon so it’s time to go!

-Ari and Lindsey