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Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief, Session 1.5

July 12, 2021

Our day began with a delicious breakfast at 8:00 a.m. We had French toast with cinnamon and scrambled eggs with vegetables. At 8:45am our group hopped in the bus and took a 40 minute drive to Old San Juan. As soon as we gathered all our belongings and got off the bus, we met our tour guide, Alvin, who knew every detail there was to know about the historic city. He told us about about the statues of the women and the bishop, Felisa Rincon de Gautier and her contributions to Puerto Rico as well as the education system of the United States, as well as Juan Ponce de Leon. While walking around old San Juan with Alvin, we saw the third narrowest house in the world, as well as some of the oldest churches in the Caribbean.

Before heading to lunch, we visited the Castillo del Morro, a fort built by the Spanish to defend San Juan from conquerors. The fort was gigantic with scenic lawn surrounding it. After exploring, and still in Old San Juan, we went to lunch at Restaurante Raices. We had the option of steak and onions with mashed plantains (traditional mofongo), chicken and cheese, chicken and garlic, stuffed avocado, and more. Once we ate, we headed back out towards the fancy part of old San Juan and shopped for handmade and original Puerto Rican souvenirs. Afterwards, we went to Castillo de San Cristobal where we explored the many different forts and lookouts. When we were done we returned to the Big Yellow House, got changed and walked to the beach, it was very close. We played taps/tips and volleyball, spent some time in the water and returned back to the house. We ate a delicious dinner of rice and beans, salmon, chicken, beef loaf, salad, and more. After dinner we all gathered and played some games to get to know each other better. We played a game to remember each others names, created rules to follow throughout the trip, and shared fun facts. We all relaxed after before getting ready for bed for another busy day.

By Jordyn, Ethan and James

July 13, 2021

It is Tuesday the 13th. It was a melancholy morning, the tap tap of the rain woke me up bright and early. As a group we got on the bigger bus for a two hour drive to go south of the island at a sustainable forest project called Tropic Ventures. After the drive, we were met with the great task of creating a drainage system and controlling overgrowth. 3t, the project leader at Tropic Ventures, was quite a character, her grand personality really lifted our spirits throughout the grueling job. Thankfully, we brought snacks with which to refuel ourselves. 1:30: moving on to our next task. This one, not so physically taxing. A little swim in the swimming hole got all of our grime off as we jumped into the cold water. Back to the Big Yellow House we go.

The volleyball continued once we got back. Tensions were high, apparently nobody knows how to set. We didn’t make the same mistake of showering before volleyball today, we learned our lesson after getting sandy in the intense match. Eventually, we smelled the aroma of the chicken and rice we were having for dinner, and knew it was time to go up. MVP of the dinner was the newly-bought hot sauce, “Bohio.” It did not last long. Salsa dancing was the main event of the night. Hips were flying every which way, people were gettin in the groove. The night ended with info from our trip leaders about our next service project in a nearby village.

Charlie, Brendan, Brianna

July 14, 2021

The day started out with a buffet breakfast, then we went on a 30 minute drive to the worksite, where we met Daryl, and the project leaders, William and Angel. After a brief explanation, which was translated by the only person of our group that actually speaks Spanish, we started mixing up all the components for the cement. It consisted of pebbles, sand, water, and cement powder. We split up the work for maximum efficiency but were soon interrupted by a rainstorm which forced us under cover, halting our work activities for the day. Unfortunately another result of the rain was we didn’t get the opportunity to eat at Angel’s wife, Maria’s house. The bus ride home was lively, with the whole bus bumping to all the classics. Thankfully we were able to drive and pick up lunch at Maria’s house for our meal at the Big Yellow House.

With our free time we played a number of beach volleyball games, and then cooled off in the ocean at the beach around the corner, and aside from a few wipeouts, everybody had a good time. After coming back to the Big Yellow House, our group leaders led us in some games such as Blind Samurai, and a Rock-Paper-Scissor-Shoe-Tournament. For dinner we got pizza from a local restaurant, which was a nice change from chicken, mystery meat, and rice every single meal before then. After a group discussion and recap of the day, everybody had free time to talk and hangout before lights out at 10:30.

Luca, James, Sydney

July 15, 2021

We started with a late morning today, as the crew struggled to get out of bed to breakfast at the right time. After our meal of french fry waffles, yogurt, and sausages, we boarded Fermin’s Wonderful Wild Bus Extravaganza to go to Villa del Rio for our second day of volunteering there with William and Noel. We spent the day tying wires around rebar in preparation for pouring cement. It was a very hot day with almost no clouds, but we persevered and really enjoyed working, helping each other, staying hydrated, and vibing with Yeriel, a Puerto Rican student also helping us on site. After a few hours of work, we were rewarded with a lovely lunch of chicken and salad at Casa de Maria, where we shared some intellectual conversation and stimulating music.
When we had all eaten as much as we could of Maria’s delicious food, we got back on Fermin’s Wonderful Wild Bus Extravaganza to go to a new beach. As usual, the bus ride was full of good spirits as we sang along to Katy Perry, Jim Croce, and Billy Joel, among others. The beach was beautiful and the water was clear and warm. The experience was only tainted by the ubiquitous sea urchins and the fraudulent sale of three pairs of non-functional goggles to our three most attractive volunteers. After some nice swimming and vibing on the beach Fermin and his Wonderful Wild Bus Extravaganza drove us back to the Big Yellow House, where we had some free time and engaged in a particularly heated but ultimately victorious volleyball match against a group of three-week volunteers. We thoroughly consumed Pasta Night and followed it up with a Zac Efron-narrated documentary about Puerto Rico’s recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. We finished off the night with a characteristically fun group meeting (led by three particularly attractive volunteers), before stargazing and heading to bed in preparation for our final day of fun-filled volunteering tomorrow.

Sasha, Axel, Nathan

July 16, 2021

Today is Friday the 16th of July, we started the day off with another early morning. We had breakfast at 7:00 am, we ate sausage and french toast sticks, on the road by 7:30 and were at the service site at about 8am. We worked until 1pm, the day consisted of making and pouring cement and petting William’s dogs. We had four stations, one was shoveling rocks and sand into buckets to be used for the cement mix, second was pouring the concrete mix into the mixer, third: shoveling the fresh cement into buckets and passing it up to the roof, and the last station was pouring the cement onto the roof and handing the empty buckets down. After those five hours, we had a short walk to Maria’s (Angel’s wife) house where we ate mac n’ cheese, plantains, rice and beans, salad, and chicken. After we ate, we had another brief walk to the bus, and made it back to the big yellow house.

From there, some people went to the beach and some stayed. For those who were at the beach, we swam, had a seaweed fight, and some napped on the sand. For everyone else, we showered, hung out on the balconies, and had snacks. By the time everyone was back at the house, we still had about two hours of free time, with this time we made thank you posters for William and Maria. While people signed the posters, we danced to music and braided some of the guys’ hair. Next, we prepared the main floor for our guests that were arriving for dinner, William, William’s son, Angel, Maria and her kids, as well as some other guests. After dinner we were presented with little bracelets from the community and we gave them our handmade thank you cards.

Ryan, Zoey, Kelsey

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. Talia would not let us swim in anything deeper than our ankle length because of the rip currents. 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 ~ Trip Highlights

My favorite part of the trip was getting to know everyone. Our group meshed really well and it wouldn’t have been the same trip without them.
Nathan G.

My high of the week is meeting and getting to know everybody. I have met so many great people and made a lot of new friends.
Jordyn L.

My highlight of the trip was seeing how much of an impact my service made. I enjoyed connecting with and learning about the community we were helping. I also enjoyed hiking in the rainforest to the river adn bonding with everyone on the trip, especially Penelope.
Lena W.

My favorite part of the week is all of it to be honest. Just meeting new amazing friends and just how close we got in such a short amount of time. I honestly can’t believe the week is over and words can’t explain how much I am going to miss these people. I can go on for hours about everything but I am running out of time.
Brianna M.

My high of the trip was meeting all the amazing people on our trip, I went into the week expecting I’d keep to myself but I couldn’t have been more surprised. I don’t really open up to people outside my small group of friends but somehow I just felt comfortable with everybody here, and that is what really made me love this trip.
Luca C.

My favorite part of the trip was how quickly everyone came together, and how easy it was to make friends. We had an amazing group of people, and it was a lot of fun getting to know everyone and working with them.
Caterina D.

My high of the trip was making so many new friends and memories while travelling in an amazing and beautiful place. It’s been so long since I have been in an environment with a lot of new people my age due to Covid. It really made me think deeper about the social isolation we ………. This trip was the best thing I’ve done in years. I really enjoyed helping out the community and getting to know the story behind the places I was helping to restore. This will definately be a top memory of all times.
Axel P.

My high of the week was seeing how everyone got along so well, it was great how all the boys, girls got along on the first day, then everybody mixed and made lots of new friends.
Charlie P.

I don’t get how I met most of these people 6 days ago. I never thought I could get so close to people in such a short amount of time. That is what I appreciate most about this trip. I hope the friendships I made can continue, even though that may be difficult because of where people live.
Brendan L.

My favorite part of my Global Works trip to Puerto Rico has been coming together with everyone! I loved meeting so many amazing people and spending time together to make a positive impact on the community here.
Kelsey B.

My high of the week is playing volleyball on the beach the first day and getting to know everyone. Another high was the progress that we made on the house.
Sasha B.

My high of the week was getting to meet everyone and getting really close to everyone. I am sad to leave them though.
Megan K.

My highlight of the trip was helping William build his house and the people I met. It was very fulfilling to help William and to see how thankful and happy he was. I’ve also met some very kind, fun & funny people that I hope to stay in touch with for a very long time.
Zoey B.

My favorite part of the week was meeting and making a lot of friendships. I had a very fun time growing closer to everyone.
Ryan O.

The highlight of my trip was all of the people. I really enjoyed spending time withthem and we laughed a lot, I really had fun.
Sydney B.

My highlight of the trip would have to be meeting new people, I found it really easy to bond with new people, especially in this group. I feel like it helped with being social.

My high of the trip was definitely meeting all the great people on this trip. Everyone was a lot of fun to be around and I could always count on them to make me laugh or play frisbee or football. Over all the people in the group  either make or break the trip and our group definitely made this trip fun as possible.
Ethan A.

Watching the house gradually come together during the construction process.
Adam R.

Working cooperatively to build a house.
James P.