May 16, 2018
On our first day in Puerto Rico we left the BYH (aka Big Yellow House) in Cerro Gordo and adventured towards Viejo San Juan to experience popular monuments and museums. This included the San Juan gate, El Morro, and the Felisa Rincón de Gutiérrez museum. We also stopped for a traditional Puerto Rican lunch at El Jibarito and finished our time in Viejo San Juan with some souvenir shopping through the old cobblestone streets. To finish the day we went to the beach and had some free time to spend with the group. We discussed our rose and thorn of the day and shared what we are excited for and what we are nervous about for the trip.
May 17, 2018
Today we began our service work. We began by driving to the community center in Villa Del Rio. The house which we performed our work belonged to a man named Victor and his wife Rose. We loaded up a cement mixer then transported the mixture into the molds to make columns. At lunch, we ate food made by wonderful women named Rose, Angie, and Nancy. We listened to music while playing knockout and volleyball with one of the community members named Edgar. We returned to our work after lunch. Today felt incredibly unique.
May 18, 2018
Today we continued our work in the villa del Rio community. We learned how to build the walls for the house, and even mixed the cement by hand. While more difficult than with a mixer, today’s cement mixing gave us new understanding of the work required to build a house and the strength required to withstand a hurricane. The house we worked on today was for a woman named Ana, it was particularly meaningful because she has never had her own home for herself, or her two children. At the end of the day we went swimming in the ocean, which was a nice end to a long day. This type of service work is meaningful because we can directly help people in need. We can meet the people we are helping and see our impact. Seeing our effects on the lives of the people we meet left us with a huge sense of fulfillment and excitement for the days to come.
May 19, 2018
Pass the bucket, pour, go back around. I need some water. Don’t forget to take breaks. I see that it is starting to rain. It has been cloudy all day with scattered showers, but once it starts to rain it comes down even harder, and it is the perfect time to go and dance in the pouring rain. It is of those times when you are already so wet and dirty, so it does not matter if you get sopping wet in the refreshing water.
May 20, 2018
Today we went to Tropic Ventures, a sustainable forestry operation in the rainforest. We worked on digging drainage ditches that had been covered up by hurricane Maria. It was interesting to see how fragile humanity and its creations really are. Something that took hours, days, weeks, and even years to build could be erased in a flash if Mother Nature wills it. Humanity is able to accomplish massive feats of engineering and construction but it is nothing compared to the power of something like a hurricane. I have a greater respect for nature after witnessing everything I saw today.
May 21, 2018
Today was the last day in the community. After work they surprised us with an amazing meal and a surprise party with a super soapy slippy slide. We did interviews with the community members. It was a very meaningful experience. Then we said our goodbyes, it was very sad to leave this community who had welcomed us into their lives. Then we relaxed at the beach. Later in the evening we met a woman named Yara who taught us how to salsa dance. We were lucky to have another global works group join us.
By Lochlan, miles, and kyle