Puerto Rico Epic Service Adventure
July 7, 2021
Today we woke up and had our first breakfast in Puerto Rico. Following the meal we took an hour bus ride into Old San Juan. The beautiful blue water contrasted the colorful houses as we walked down the cobblestone roads. Knowing the history of the city left us truly gratified. After arriving home we went swimming in the the beautiful blue waters of the Caribbean Sea and spent the night bonding as a group and learning more about each other. It was a great first day!
– Max, Ben and Finn
July 8, 2021
Today was our first day on the job! We met and worked with Angel and William from Villa del Río. ¡Ellos son muy simpáticos! With help from our peers and counselors, the communication barrier wasn’t so overwhelming. Our team collaborated on prep work: we shaped rebar into ladders and beams into support structures for concrete down the road.
After a long day of hard work in the hot sun, we trekked through the neighborhood to meet Maria and her family for lunch! Maria is a very involved woman in the community. Maria’s food was delicious! Many went for seconds! After lots of conversation, we headed back to the Big Yellow House and got ready for a nice afternoon at the beach. We ended the day with a documentary and conversations about Puerto Rico’s past, present, and future. While watching the documentary, we saw many familiar sites of Old San Juan from our tour yesterday.
It was an exhausting and exhilarating day…back at it tomorrow!
-Mimi, Jack, and Alex
July 9, 2021
Hola! Today we went to a construction site to mix and pour concrete! Everyone worked together and stayed motivated throughout the day. Maria and her daughter brought delicious burgers and fríes for lunch! We then spent the rest of the day at the local beach to unwind after a day of hard work! We ate dinner and are excited for another day of volunteering in the community!
– Ava, Grayson, and Arielle
July 10, 2021
Hola! Today we went to a construction site to mix and pour concrete on our home building projects! Everyone worked together and stayed super motivated throughout the day. Maria and her daughter brought delicious burgers and fríes for lunch! We then spent the rest of the day at the local beach to unwind after a day of hard work! We ate dinner and are excited for another day of volunteering in the community!
Ava, Grayson, and Arielle
July 11, 2021
On Sunday after a hearty breakfast of pancakes, sausage, and mangoes, we headed to
Willie’s to finish the cement wall we had started the previous day. He warned us that it would be significantly more work than we had done the past few days. We were ready to get started, and then the rains came. It poured warm, tropical sheets of rain for hours. These conditions didn’t allow for cement mixing so we had a reggaetone dance party under the tarp. When the sun finally revealed itself through the clouds, we got to work. With the experience we gained over the past few days, we worked faster than ever and finished in half the time than Willie and Angel expected .
July 12, 2021
Hola! Today we took a break from our community service to swim through a beautiful waterfall and tour a magnificent cave.🦇 We started the day with a very anticipated trip to… WALMART! After a long and eventful trip to Walmart, we took the bus to see a huge waterfall. While the water was cold, everyone enjoyed swimming through the clear river water. After eating lunch with a beautiful view, we headed to Los Cuevas de Las Ventanas. We wandered through the home of many bats 🦇to see the famous view. Overall, a fantastic day!
– Mimi & Arielle
July 13, 2021: Big beautiful beaches
After rising early on yet another beautiful Puerto Rican day we ventured across the island to a picturesque beach near Old San Juan. We spent our day surfing in the crystal clear water and admiring the lush vegetation. After a great day in the water we ate lunch at the Marriott resort with delicious tropical smoothies and went home. We concluded our day with a dinner as the sunset and readied ourselves for an upcoming day of service.
– Max, Finn, Ben
July 14th, 2021
In the morning we got a late wake up and got to leave the Big Yellow House at 10:30. We took the bus and headed straight to Maria’s house for an amazing lunch before heading off to Williams to work on a cement column, holding off on roof work until tomorrow. We got to take off the wood forms and reveal our hard work from previous days. When seeing the stairs and wall we built as a team, a sense of accomplishment ran through the group. We then went home and had some rest time to relax. Followed by a pizza and ice cream party and a movie night! Everyone watched the Bee Movie before heading to sleep, ending another great day in Puerto Rico!
–Jared, Hudson, Carol
July 15, 20221
¡Hola! Buenas noches from Puerto Rico. Today we slept in late and relaxed before a day of hard work. We tied the rebar and laid it in a grid on William’s roof. Afterwards, we returned to the Big Yellow House for more time to unwind and get to know one another. After dinner we were treated to a talent show at the hands of our campers, the highlights of which included: Jared fitting into a Duffel bag, Arielle singing “Vienna,” and Greyson upstaging Talia’s water chugging act. Overall, it was a great day!
-Mimi, Jack, and Dean
July 16, 2021
Today we had our last day of volunteer work in the community. It was our biggest job yet! We finished off our project by pouring cement onto the roof. With the progress that we had made in the previous days, it helped us finish off strong. With the team building and communication skills that we had learned throughout our week of volunteering, we were able to stay motivated throughout and finish the project with high team moral and efficiency. We really appreciate the time we had working with the community and we learned a lot. We are excited to continue our trip and gain new amazing experiences!
– Arielle, Ava, Greyson
July 17, 2021
Hola mis padres!
Today was the first day out of the two rock climbing days. We woke up and had breakfast at the BYH (Big Yellow House). Then, we got onto the bus and headed to a brand new beach. After a significant bus ride with Ruben, we walked down a winding road to a beautiful, alluring beach and picturesque rocks designated for climbing. We met our guide/professional rock climber for 40 years, Eli, and started our exciting adventure at the 80 feet rocky walls. After we all had climbed to our heart’s content, we walked down from our climbing walls and went to check out the beach. It was an amazing day that challenged us all mentally and physically.
– Brodick, Crystal, Zach
July 18, 2021
We woke up, eating breakfast at 7:30, and left on the bus at 8:30. From there, we split into two groups, one group went rock climbing for a second day and the other group was relaxing at a beach and river. At the rock wall, people climbed up three rock walls with some of us even learning how to belay the climbers. Many climbers were able to reach the top of the wall! The beach group spent the morning exploring a nearby marketplace and swimming in the river. After a quick packed lunch, everyone met up again to head to one more beach spot. We spent the afternoon together swimming in a wave pool and enjoying the ocean view. Back at the big yellow house, we all relaxed until dinner time and reflected on the first half of our epic service trip. Many more adventures to come.
– Hudson , Jared, Carol
July 19, 2021
Today we left the Big Yellow House for the island Vieques. We took a boat called the Coral Queen II, headed by Alvin, our tour guide from Old San Juan. We stopped for snorkeling about an hour after departure and found sea turtles, urchins, lobsters, conch shells, and stingrays among local fish schools. The water was a magnificent colors of blue and green! After we finished snorkeling, we ate lunch and drove to Vieques, where we were driven to our current colorful house where spotted the town horses roaming around the street. Vieques is quiet and calming. We relaxed for the afternoon and set up hammocks, as well as getting settled into our new rooms. One nice perk of the new house is the girls all have mirrors now. As we write this, people are settling in for the night. Goodnight from Puerto Rico.
-Dean, Mimi, jack.
July 20, 2021
This morning, we woke up before six o’clock to get on the bus at six thirty. We Made it to the boat about an hour later, and went snorkeling and swimming for the rest of the day around Vieques. We got off the boat and made our way to our next Home around 4, then relaxed around the House and met some other guests. We ate dinner at 6:30 and hung out until lights out at 10.
-Leah, Adrie, Ezra
July 21, 2021
Today we woke up in our beautiful Vieques hostel, after a long nights rest from the previous day. We were provided waffles and breakfast sandwiches to help fuel us for the rest of our day. We boarded our vans and split up into 3 groups so we could spread out and paint different houses in the communities of Vieques. We all worked in the beating sun, being provided lunch by our caterer and the people in the community. At 4 we reconvened at the location discussed 7 hours prior, to rest our weary bones, consume and absorb the many splendid nutrients contained within pizza, and venture out to experience the wonderful bioluminescent bay. We took clear bottom kayaks into a private bay, where we paddled out into the middle of the water. There we were able to see micro-plankton that are able to produce their own light. We used tarps to block out light pollution from the moon which helped us see the vibrant lights the plankton produced. After we finished we went back to our hostel to prepare ourselves for another day of painting.
– Max , Ezra , Adrie
July 22, 2021
We woke up at 7:30, and had a breakfast of yogurt parfait and bagels. We split into two groups- the girls headed to a small house near the bioluminescent bay in Esperanza- and all the boys headed to the police station. The boys were at the police station all day where we wore our tactical vests we found in the trash can and secured the perimeter. The boys gave the building a new paint job which covered some old murals. It took all day but when we finished, we realized how much work we had completed. The girls painted a house white, and trimmed it with green. After finishing up they had a bit of time for souvenir shopping along the beach. We came back to our place and had a community conversation under the full moon and stars. Today was a great day!
~ Adrie, Greyson, Max
July 23, 2021
Today was an early morning at our hostel. We woke up and boarded the busses on the way to the worksite. Our task for today consisted of painting a former school that has been abandoned for the last 30 years. Now, it is being converted into a wildlife research laboratory where they are studying mangroves. Here, they are planting mangroves out of the sea water because they grow faster on land and in fresh water. The faster they can grow them, the sooner they can replant them. After hurricane Maria in 2017, many of the mangroves were ruined.These mangroves are essential for filtering water, and providing safe habitats for a lot of marine life. After painting the new research center. we headed to a beautiful beach followed by a delicious dinner at a spot along the beach called Bananas! We then hopped on the busses and went home. It was an amazing day! We finished the day by admiring the full moon from a rooftop view.
~ Max, Ava, and Lindsey
July 24, 2021
This morning, we woke up to lots of rain in Vieques. Our initial plan of snorkeling and sand bar stops on the boat was canceled. We were warned of rough seas and potentially a very bumpy ride. However, the seas were smoother than expected but rain was still on the horizon. The rain followed our boat all way from Vieques back to the marina onto mainland Puerto Rico. As soon as we got off the boat, we were met with sheets of rain. We made it back onto the bus and headed to a delicious local smoothie spot called 18 Degrees, where most of the fruit was grown in the backyard. The colors of our smoothie bowls matched the colors and beauty of Puerto Rico. The rain continued throughout the afternoon and we found cover from the rain in the local movie theatre. We all enjoyed a showing of the new marvel movie, “Black Widow” with popcorn and candies. As we got to our hostels, our group was split in half between two different hostels. We ended our night with an amazing, fulfilling dinner from a local Luquillo restaurant, complete with ribs, mofongo, chicken stuffed with plaintain, rice and beans with plantain and jibaritos- a crunchy plantain sandwich fillled with veggies. As the rain came to an end, we fell asleep listening to the coqui frogs, roosters, and music from the neighborhood.
-PR Epic leaders (Lindsey, Talia, James)
July 25, 2021
Hola! We started our day by waking up late and eating an amazing breakfast. Those who woke up early took a stroll down the beach. We left our hostels at noon, and met up with our guide Ray, and had lunch with one of the locals in El Yunque. After lunch, we hiked in the rainforest and saw ancient Taíno petroglyphs. It was amazing not only to see, but to feel ancient history! Afterwards we played in a stream. Before going to eat dinner at the hostels, we had delicious smoothies at Degree 18 Juice Bar. Dinner was punctuated by a live band next door. After dinner some returned to their hostel while others stayed to watch lightning on the horizon, which shut down the power grid — briefly. After that we all returned to our bunks and slept soundly.
– Jack, Jared, Arielle
July 26, 2021
Today we all woke up in our respective hostels to a delicious egg breakfast before splitting up into two groups to go paddle boarding in a near by river. While paddle boarding, we got to learn about the local flora and fauna of where we were and even saw a leatherback turtle nest! We all came back together for lunch and headed to Degree 18 — our favorite smoothie spot — for the last time (the açaí and mango bowls were the best!) After an hour and a half bus ride, we got to Tropic Ventures, a substantial forestry where we will be doing environmental sustainability service for the next three days. Dinner was baked Mac and Cheese and salad, which really satisfied everyone’s cravings. We all headed to bed soon after, preparing for our last few days of service work on the epic PR service trip 🇵🇷🇵🇷
July 27, 2021
Today, we woke up in the rainforest at the adventure works hostel. There were animals and plants all around us. We ate a delicious vegetarian breakfast and got ready for a full day of work. We started with trail maintenance, pruning, and sawing and digging. We worked efficiently until lunchtime. We took a break to eat sandwiches prepared by our cooks, and then we returned to more trail maintenance down by the river. We cut through thick vines and razor grass to help clear the path for those passing through. We spent the rest of the day relaxing and swimming in the river, and giving ourselves self care time.
-Grayson and Arielle
July 28, 2021
We woke up again at Tropic Ventures, in a rainforest full of sounds. During breakfast we had some eye opening, and intense conversations with the leaders about the choices we are making. Many of us had a lot to reflect on and came to the realization that our actions reflect upon ourselves, as well as every community we are part of on this trip. This was a moment that many of us didn’t expect, but necessary for us all to move forward together. Our biggest take away from these conversations was every experience that happens to us on this trip, or in our lives is an opportunity to learn and grow.
It was pouring so we worked on and off until lunch time. Come time for lunch we were all ready for the incredible food that awaited us, made with love by Maga and Lilli. Every meal we have seems to get better and better. While we were all a little apprehensive about being in the middle of the rainforest without AC and indoor showers, with bugs, using a composting toilet, eating mostly vegetarian, and leaving the comforts we have become accustom to, we are coming to love this place and all it has to offer. There is so much beauty all around, and has given us a new perspective about what it means to be truly happy, self sustaining and alternate paths in life. Our time here has been rejuvenating and cleansing, as we soak up the magic in the rainforest. We ended our night with phone calls home to parents as well as with a community conversation with 3T about what our time in the rainforest has taught us. Until tomorrow,
July 29, 2021
Today we woke up to our last rainforest breakfast. Berry & chocolate chip pancakes, fresh mango, papaya, cheesy eggs, and guava juice. We packed up and said our goodbyes to our hosts 3T, Maga, Lilli, the dogs ( Nogal- big guy, Negra Lora, Chichi and the white dog) the coqui frogs, white cat, chickens, and Coco the sheep. This is a place that has far surpassed any expectations or preconceived notions we had. We got on the bus and headed back down to Luquillo for our last afternoon in Puerto Rico. Some of us enjoyed our last trip to Degree 18 juice bar, lunch at the kioskos complete with assorted mofongo and tropical drinks. We spend the rest of the afternoon splashing in the super calm waters. As the group rejoined together, we ended the night with our final community conversations about our experiences on the trip. We discussed how we have overcome personal obstacles, and what we want to take from this trip back home into our lives and community. This has been a month packed full of experiences, exploration and growth for all of us personally and as a community. We are leaving Puerto Rico with the unforgettable memories we made and the determination to be the change we want to see in the world.
Thank you for a summer none of us will forget.
-Leaders ( Lindsey, James, Talia)