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Sandy Spring Friends School Puerto Rico 2019

June 17, 2019

Arrival day! Today’s highlights were an intense volleyball match, picking up piles of trash at the beach, and finally spending a relaxing afternoon in the ocean. It’s colorful and tropical here, under a full moon. We’re staying at the breezy Big Yellow House, which is a spacious guest house just for our group. Our Global Works leaders are awesome. We love and miss you to the end of time. We’ll see you in one week.

June 18, 2019

Today marked our first full day in Puerto Rico. While some decided to start their day with a short run, others clocked as much sleep as possible for our long day of touring Old San Juan. One of the highlights was spending time with Alvin, the historical tour guide who led us through a fort called El Moro. We saw the beautiful structures and technology used by the Puerto Ricans. We also saw iguanas and tried to fly kites. We learned throughout the tour, later stopping for souvenirs that were authentic to Puerto Rico. After six miles of walking, we had delicious popsicles and headed to the beach. We finished the day with dinner and activities to help us set intentions for the week.

June 19, 2019

Today was our first day of service work in the community, Villa del Rio. We worked on the house of one of the community leaders, Angel.  Another community leader, Willie, gave us a funny demonstration of how to mix concrete. Getting to know Angel and his family was a highlight.  Angel’s tearful speech at the end of the day showed us how meaningful this work is. After eight hours on site, we headed to the beach before dinner and a game of volleyball!

June 20, 2019

Thursday has been the most impactful day of work because we finished the roof on Angel’s house.  His house had been in the process of reconstruction since April, so it meant a lot to him.  He is a community leader and has put other people before himself for years.  It was finally his turn.  The final push to finish his roof included shoveling rocks and passing buckets of concrete on the roof. Our lunches were freshly cooked by our hostess, Maria. After taking a well-earned lunch break, we commenced work on an essential retaining wall. This wall will keep mud and water out of Angel’s house when it rains, and the it is the first step to building a patio. After taking a trip to the beach, we arrived back to the Big Yellow House for a salsa lesson.  The house was electric with the enthusiasm of our dancing.

June 21, 2019

Today was our last day of work in Villa del Rio. The community truly appreciated our service upon arrival in their community. This day was meant to be calmer because we finished the roof of Angel’s house. He was blown away at how we worked and after waiting so long the community and Global Workers finally finished the roof of his house.  After working, we reset our systems with a dip in the ocean. Later, community members joined us for dinner at the Big Yellow House.  They shared stories and their hardships after Hurricane Maria. These stories gave us a detailed picture of the devastation. Angel, one of the community members, inspired us when he said his first act after Maria was to thank God for sparing their lives. With tears in our eyes, we said good-bye.  Tomorrow we go to El Yunque National Forest.

June 22, 2019

After three days of hard work, our vacation began today! We ate a breakfast of succulent French toast. Then it was off to El Yunque National Forest- a part of the US national forest system. We stopped at a natural waterslide. It was a slippery slope of rock leading into a deep pool of cold, fresh water. You wouldn’t believe it, but a local kid risked his life for the thrill of it by sliding down standing up!  Later, we took a hike and cooled off in the refreshing waters of a swimming hole. We ate a Puerto Rican lunch of fish, ribs, and mofongo (look it up!). The day finished with a beautiful walk to a lookout to watch the sunset.

June 23, 2019

Today we began to close out our amazing program.  Departure day approaches. The 6:30am departure was well worth it given the beautiful catamaran ride from Fajardo to Icacos Island, where we were able to explore the beach.  After beach time, we visited an excellent snorkeling spot. We enjoyed amazing Puerto Rican hospitality from the boat crew. Then we boarded a party bus- a converted school bus- and rode to Casa Coral hostel, the last stop in our program.  We ate a huge burrito meal and wrapped up the time in Puerto Rico with an affirmation activity with our amazing Global Works leaders.