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Puerto Rico Session Two 2023

July 10, 2023

Today we woke up earlier than we expected to an energetic Jorge, our native Puerto Rican trip leader. Then, we made our way to the common table outside the Big Yellow House to enjoy a tasty breakfast of eggs, french toast, and sausage. As we finished eating and brushing our teeth, there were vans waiting for us outside to bring us to Old San Juan. A nice man named Alvin acted as our tour guide and showed us around for the day. While learning about San Juan’s history, Alvin led us to a gargantuan fort exploring the winding paths and secret rooms.

At this point the heat was really getting to us, and lunch was lurking around the corner. After a short walk to Raices, a selection of beef, pork, and chicken was available along with a side of rice and beans, seasoned rice, and tostones, a local plantain dish. The air conditioner and ice cold beverages were a perfect way to regain our energy after the sweltering heat.

Souvenir shopping was next on the agenda. We navigated our way through stores filled with necklaces, paintings, local snacks, and more. A colorful selection of paintings was the most interesting thing seen. Their intricate and unique designs really caught the eye.

Although the souvenirs were cool, ice cream was cooler. We all enjoyed popsicles and ice cream of sweet local fruits, the most interesting being guanabana. A few minutes of ice cream eating passed, and it was time to head back to the Big Yellow House.

Ice cream is refreshing and all, but jumping into the calm bay of Puerto Rico was definitely better. A nice two-minute walk from the house later and we were jumping and splashing around in no time. Footballs were flying, frisbees were soaring, just some good ol’ summertime fun.

Tired, hungry, and more tired, we headed back to the house for relaxing time and snacks. A classic Puerto Rican chicken and rice was served to us with a pile of leafy greens, a splendid way to close out the day.

But the fun was not over. An intense game of knockout and and even intenser name game later, we shared our goals and dreams for the trip. Overall the day was pretty tiring, even though we hadn’t even begun the hard work. As a unit, we had a blast with everything Puerto Rico had to offer us!!!!

– Lucas, Declan, Andy, Milan

July 11, 2023

We began our day at around 8 and enjoyed a tasty breakfast (eggs, sausage, mini pancakes) before leaving for a long day of work. We got to know the people at the worksite and learned to overcome the language barrier. We split up into groups of making cement and an assembly line to pour the cement for the walls. While working we were exposed to Spanish songs that allowed us to appreciate the culture. Today was a day filled with hard work and teamwork in order to get the work done successfully.

After overcoming the heat (and of course staying hydrated!), we went Angels home to enjoy some traditional dishes; seasoned rice, mixed chicken, and a side of salad. Some of us headed to the beach, where we played a variety of games before we tired out and headed home for the night. The environment is lovely; beautiful waters and clear sands.

Everyone got together to chill and play a huge game a volleyball! For dinner we had rice, beans and chicken (again). After dinner, we came together and watched a documentary that challenged our knowledge of Puerto Rico. We learned that Puerto Rico was stripped of its economy by United States. There’s a chance that we can inspire others to make a change; supporting smaller businesses, cleaning the environment, etc. Overall, today was eye opening day, teaching us to be embrace and appreciate the Puerto Rican lifestyle, and all the beauties that come with this island.

– Joy, Emily, Fatou, Alec, Sam

July 12, 2023

We started our day with a breakfast of waffles, sausage, and eggs. After clean up, we headed onto the vans to the worksite. It rained on and off all day, so we had to take breaks before finally deciding to work through the rain (safely). One group focused on mixing concrete and the other had a bucket line to pour the concrete into the wall we were working on. Our group worked really hard through the rain and finished the entire retention wall we have been working on for two days.
We went once again to Maria’s house for a great lunch. The wings that Maria had prepped for the group were by far the best food we had ever had on the trip. But unfortunately they didn’t have the bussy buss bean salad. During lunch, George and Jorge helped with the goats that were eating the grass in the neighbors lawn. After a long day of work and a filling lunch, most people went to the beach and the others decided to stay at BYH and chill. A pasta dinner awaited the crew with the choice of either chicken alfredo or beef spaghetti sauce, around 7 PM and a side of salsa was offered afterwards. A world class salsa teacher taught the crew how to dance! We spent an hour connecting with each other on an artistic level. We can ALL say that we had a fun day.

Y para la familias que hablan español, hoy tuvimos un excelente día comenzando con nuestro desayuno de huevos, carne y waffles. Después terminamos la pared de cemento en el lugar de construcción y fuimos a comer a la casa de Maria (esposa de Angel el dueño del lugar de construcción) y comimos pollo con arroz y ensalada. Muchos se fueron a la playa después pero otros se quedaron y después tuvimos clase de salsa! El baile nos gusto mucho y muchos nos divertimos.

-Colin, Natalie, George, Bervelyn, Miyah, Abi

July 13, 2023

Today we started the day off with the usual breakfast which consists of eggs, french toast, and sausages. After cleaning up, we rode for a lengthy amount of time to Tropical Ventures, an environmentally sustainable forestry. Urgently, we divided ourselves into groups and began our manual labor around the forest. Some of the activities were removing invasive species, gardening, trimming plants, and sawing down trees. After our grueling work in the sun and getting viciously assaulted by murderous bugs, we ate a delicious and fulfilling lunch. Then, we hopped back into our vans. While some listened to a diverse selection of music, others took a much needed nap. Arriving at the Big Yellow House, everyone swiftly prepared for a refreshing afternoon at the beach. A while later, dinner was served and it was the recurring white rice, chicken, pork, and salad. Soon, everyone prepared anxiously for the long awaited karaoke. The singing was unique; many people sang their hearts out while some didn’t sing at all. Overall, everyone ended up having a blast!! Finally, we ended the night off with some free time before bed.

-Mallerly, Claire, Peggy, Grayson, and Anthony

July 14, 2023

Today we woke up excited to eat breakfast at 8 am. Breakfast consisted of mini pancakes, eggs and deli meat!!! We dressed in our work clothes which were long pants and a t-shirt (we had to be okay with some dirt and concrete). We took 2 vans and a car to Brayan’s house. This project was for his two young sons rooms, Abraham and Brayan Jr. When we arrived we tiredly yet confidently put on our boots, gloves and hard helmet. We were surrounded by the workers and their families alongside their stray pets. We started on the first room passing buckets of concrete, while some helped create the concrete. It took around 2 and a half hours to complete the first room and then we moved on to the next bedroom. Although we were tired, we got many breaks where we enjoyed granola bars and rice cakes. Before lunch, we settled on finishing the second room which we did in a snap of a finger! For lunch, we walked over to Maria’s house for yummy lunch of wings, salad, rice, and the best iced tea ever!!!!!! At Maria’s house Abraham showed us the farm animals such as goats, chicken, ducks, dogs, pigs and sheep. After delicious lunch, we headed back to the big yellow house to complete a series of tasks. Since it is our last day at the big yellow house, we had to pack and clean. After chores, many of us decided to go to the beach for the last time. We played water volleyball, swam to the buoy, and saw some cool kelp. After a tired yet fun time at the beach, it was time to head home and take a nice and relaxing shower! For dinner, Brayan’s family came over to help us devour some burgers and french fries :). We played with the kids from the community and talked about the work we had accomplished. We even received bracelets in memory of out hard work spent in Puerto Rico alongside ice cream sandwiches. Overall today was a great day and will forever be remembered :)))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

Sincerely, Abby, Eli, Clara, Maggie, and Julia!!!!