I just took the best trip of my life, and I wanna tell you about it. In none other than diary form, of course. Here are a few excerpts (if at any point you think I am making a joke, I probably am… It’s hard to tell sometimes…).
Read and Listen:
What I Got – Sublime
She’s Got You High – Mumm-ra
Balcony – Jordan Klassen
I tried to make it a point to leave out any names other than my classmates. It’s so hard but it just feels weird to mention stories with anyone else in it, so I just skipped the stories! It might make this whole thing sound like a boring trip, but I just feel weird about it. Like my classmates are my classmates, but our “tour guides”/leaders and stuff are like professional people and it’s this feeling of authority that I just don’t feel right mentioning them in public like this… Sorry!
I have no heart anymore. That sounds really dramatic, but I feel like I left my entire soul in Puerto Rico. I can’t really remember much. It just felt like one really long and fun day. I can’t even tell you my favorite parts because all of the parts were my favorite. I laughed so hard that I cried, and I cried so hard that I laughed at myself. I feel like if I go back with my family it won’t feel the same. I’ll feel like one of those gross tourists that doesn’t give a fuck about anything but saying “Hola”, going to the beach, and getting cornrows. I can never remake this trip. I think I realized from myself that I honestly love remaking moments. That’s the only thing that doesn’t make me sad about leaving, making myself believe that one day I can do it all over again and see the same people, but that’s not always true. That’s probably why I cried so many times. Four to be exact. I liked this trip so much more than my Europe trip. I mean, I was with my bestfriends, their moms, and some people that I’ve known since elementary, but quite frankly I didn’t have that much fun. Like of course there were fun times, like really fun times, but by the end of it, I was ready to go home. I was like the girl in The Pacifier where her sister parks the minivan and she collapses in the grass. But this trip was so different. Leaving was like my worst nightmare. And when I felt like I was crazy to think this, my amazing roommates, Kristina, Sydney, and Lydia agreed that they literally didn’t want to leave either. But anyways, I should begin with everything I can remember. Here goes nothing.
DAY 1: Saturday
I had to be at the buses by 8:30, but I don’t know what time I woke up. A part of me really wants to say that I woke up at 6:30 and just couldn’t go back to sleep, so I think I’ll stick with that. I make tea and I walk back to the front loop. I had the option to go back and get an umbrella but I was too afraid to go because what if the bus leaves me? Little did I know, we would be standing around for a while. But I’m glad I didn’t bring it because it would just take up space and I could get through people and things easier with just my rain jacket. The bus arrives and Kristina and I sit next to each other. We all established buddies the last class before leaving, so I knew to stick with her in the airport. So we go through security and I don’t have a problem even though I was scared because Jada packed my liquids. So we are strolling along and I pass the place/gate I waited in when going to Europe. I remember this because there was a huge ear of corn shaped like a plane hanging from the ceiling. Jonelle said it was good luck. So we waited for a bit and Kristina and I scoped out the boys that would be on our plane. At one point I wanted to get water and Kristina wanted to use the bathroom.
*I’m getting anxious to just begin writing when we arrive in PR, but I’m forcing myself to be patient.*
In the restroom, she thought she heard her name, so we ran back. I bet we looked really cool and happy running, especially if a song like “Tongue Tied” played in the background as we ran. So anyways, we board the plane and I’m at the window seat. I’m really happy I got to sit next to people I (somewhat) knew. The flight was alright! There was turbulence, but I really didn’t freak out, and I’m happy about that. I watched two episodes of HTGAWM which I was so happy about, until it started to cut out, then I went to my SoulPancake book, and that is also a super good thing that happened on that plane ride. We ended up arriving ten minutes before it said on the flight tracker. The view was beautiful! Boats were sailing and the buildings were so bright and beautiful and the water was amazing. We landed and I don’t even remember anyone clapping, I just instantly started scrambling for my stuff. This is where it begins. 3 cute Puerto Rican men smiled and said bye in their bright work vests every few steps I took. I got out of the tunnel thing and moved off to the side and when Kristina came out we screamed in each other’s faces. We both knew what we saw. We chilled for a little bit near the baggage claim. So we started walking towards the exit, and then it hit me. It was like the oxygen was sucked from my lungs because it was so humid. We kind of stood around for a bit and talked about how we wished someone held a sign with our names on it in the airport like in the movies. So a really excited guy comes around the car and it’s our taxi driver! I refused to look at his driving because I knew it would scare me. We were listening to music in Spanish, and then it changed to Jojo and I got really excited. We arrived at the hotel, and I don’t remember my first reaction. Like I googled what it looks like so… anyways so we get inside and I go up this extremely steep ramp to get in, and my heart drops because Dean K is assigning rooms. I was this close to having a room with only one other person, until Dean K realized she created the roommates with this one girl in mind that actually didn’t end up going. So I was in the room with ten other people. Luckily, it was divided into 3 other bedrooms, and I also had the best roommates ever which backs my belief in everything happens for a reason. We kind of just organically became roommates. I mean Kristina and I already knew we would be together. and I guess Sydney and Lydia knew too so it was kind of like… so yeah then we get to dinner. We walked to the same place that we ended up having breakfast there every morning. Kristina got a cute picture of me on the way. We get there and this was only the first time that my food had to be taken back because of the whole vegetarian thing. Literally my alternative was so good. It tasted like broccoli and cheddar soup with plaintains on the side that weren’t sweet (like chips). It was like mashed potatoes and cheese or something. So we get back to the hotel and then leave for the private college for reflection. It was really nice, if you get past the fact that it looks kind of like a jail (now that I think about it, I bet it once was a jail like it literally looked like a jail). It was like tiled floors instead of grass, and there were nice palm trees. So we all went in a class room, and I never realized how tired I was. Everyone was literally dying. I swear I had to strain my eyelids by trying to keep my eyes open. In the middle of reflection, we had a break, and everyone was dead. Kristina and I walked around the whole center of the campus to try and past the time in hopes that they would start back without us (there was a 12 minute video waiting for all of us). We got back in the classroom, spotted desserts, and then realized that they haven’t even started the video. Turns out, the video was actually really funny and really informative about the odd control of the U.S. over it’s territories. So reflection ends, and I take a yummy cupcake. We get back to the hotel and I wish I could remember our (my roommates and I) conversation, also known as our first debreifing. But that’s about all I can remember. I do remember my sleep that night not even being that bad.
DAY 2: Sunday
So we woke up, and everyone underestimated the “strictness” of the time we need to be in the lobby. So we kind of got in trouble. We had breakfast and I forgot what we had! Probably eggs and some yummy bread. So we get in the car and drive to Old San Juan. We get out and kind of chill in the “center” of Old San Juan, taking videos and pictures. Kristina and I stuck together as we walked around and soon realized that it’s Sunday morning… everything was closed. We found a souvenir shop, where right before going in, I gave Kristina the map. We bought a bunch of stuff, started walking again, and I ask Kristina for the map… She lost it. So it’s just her and I, in Puerto Rico, lost. I was very annoyed. But only for about 60 seconds, because we quickly found an info desk and got another map. We chose to sit in front of this nice view of the water. I literally could have taken a nap. Kristina lost two of her contacts as we sat on the bench even though I told her not to try to put them in. So we just sat in silence on the bench for what seemed like a half hour. We walked to the meeting place and waited again. Then we drove to this random park to have lunch! We get our food and Kristina and I walk to these benches overlooking the rest of the park. That food was literally so good. I had dry salad (that I ate anyway), yuca, rice, and beans. It honestly made me believe that everyday would have to be so good for vegetarians. I later found out that I was wrong. But anyways so we finish this yummy yummy food and a few minutes later, we are walking back to the car. About half of us managed to cross the street before a car came, so the rest of us waited. Then, as a car came, one of our leaders literally walked in the middle of the street with his hand up and literally stopped the car to let us through… I was shocked. Very superhero of him. So we get to this boat docking place and the lady to show us around gets in our car and we kept having to get out of the car and she would tell us about stuff that was probably really interesting, but it was humid outside and I was #dun with hearing people talk (if you know me you will know how much the weather has an emotional effect on me). So we came back to the boats. I almost got on a boat when everyone decided to have at least one English and Spanish speaker on the boat, so I got switched out. I kind of waited around for a little bit, then got on the last boat. I. Was. Scared. I asked for a life jacket because I was not there to play games. So we start going and I guess it was ok. Then he started putting the pedal to the metal. I said oh hell no at this point. Me, Kristina, and Roxanna all sat on a cooler because there were no seats on this boat. So quite frankly, I thought all three of us were going to fly out this boat with this cooler. I mean it was definitely scary, but I had Kristina who also could not swim and wore a life jacket, so I laughed when I got scared. At one point the driver put the breaks on real hard and Kristina and I both fell forward on the bottom of the boat. I just remember admiring the sky and then having my hands and knees on the floor of the boat. I didn’t even realize Kristina fell with me. That was a really funny moment. The scenery was so beautiful! We stopped the boat and watched a plane take off right in front of us. So we get back to the vans and drive back to the hotel. We decided to eat around the corner instead of back in Old San Juan, so we had extra time to get ready. I had this nasty steamed vegetable wrap because I was too afriad to try mofongo. After I believe we had a short reflection, then my roommates and I went back in our room and probably debreifed.
DAY 3: Monday
So today, we get up and go to breakfast. Kristina probably yelled at me for running, and leaving her, as I cross the street, but I just cannot stroll as I cross the street. Her and I were the only ones to wear sandals that day… Apparently we drove for a long time. I can’t actually remember now (3/21/16 as I’m writing this) and I probably couldn’t remember two days after because that’s how much the days blended together. I’m currently looking at my itinerary. So we finally get to the Taino grounds and there are a bunch of stray dogs (literally PR is the homeland of stray dogs) and we gather and listen to this security guard and the guard said that it was a bad day to wear sandals. Not only because it was muddy (no one told us) but there were like these Brazilian ants that really hurt when they bite you. So… Yeah great. We walk down a concrete ramp and go into this tiny museum. We left that and then embarked on a slippery slope. Literally. Even people in sneakers were sliding. I held Kristina’s hand even though she seemed put off by it, however she asked me if I wanted to hold her hand in the first place (I always say yes to a hand hold). My toes were literally over my whole sandal. Yeah, people in sneakers slipped, but we were slipping while also slipping in our own sandals. I also got bit by the ants which was not fun but it didn’t make me jump like the security guard said it would. So we were slipping and sliding and taking pictures in front of the petroglyphs. And then it starts raining, so we all get under the gazebo. I’m upset because my feet are disgusting, and the mud is actually taking my nail polish off, and it’s raining and I never got eight full hours of sleep so I know I was tired. But I quickly got over it (especially when we were told to have ten minutes of quiet and we walked around alone and I picked where I wanted to go). So we take the mushy walk back up the ramp and to the vans. Every time they tell us to get the food, I act like I don’t hear them, which I’m glad I did because I had the chance to wash my feet while Kristina was carrying sandwiches back down the hill in muddy feet. Afterwards, I tiptoe across the mud back to where we were eating and this is when I receive a to-go box of just steamed vegetables and half of a corn on the cob… I felt bad for being annoyed but how am I supposed to survive off of this until dinner? Is this was vegans feel like in this country (if there even is any)? So I just take a lot of Oreos and cookies and chips. Very healthy alternative. So we get back in the van, and Roxanna and I eventually fall asleep until we wake up thinking we arrived at our destination which I believed to be a slaughter house… I was confused and ready to not get out of the van, but turns out they were just lost. So we arrive at the beach. Kind of. We have to go through a hole in the gate and then walk in mud a little then it turned into sand which turns into a sand hill and then, you’re there. Seeing everyone’s face as they saw the beach before I saw it was so nice to see. Everyone looked so happy. I haven’t seen a beach in like… three years. Maybe four. I get there and it was so beautiful. The sun wasn’t out, but I feel like it made everything look even better. Like way more calming or something. So of course once we find a place to put our stuff, we start taking pictures for the ‘gram. We found a lot of places to take pictures, like a spiked rock that Kristina cut her hand on, or an unforeseen wave that attacked her from behind and slapped the bottom half of my butt. So later Kristina gets her beach towel and Helen and I sit on it with her. It’s fine for a little bit, until the water slowly creeps closer and closer. I guess none of us moved because we wanted to see how brave the small wave was. So basically, it got us. I jumped up fast enough, but Helen and Kristina didn’t I guess, or maybe Helen did but forgot that she left her phone next to her on the towel. Their phones got soaked, but somehow still work to this day. So we go back to the vans and the itinerary says that we went to a conservation area but I just don’t remember that happening. It might have, but I didn’t take any pictures if we went. It just goes from the beach, to me Facetiming Reagin, to a video of my small hotel room, to the next day. I wonder if we officially started having debreifs today. I’m not sure all I know is I went to bed at 10:30.
DAY 4: Tuesday
According to my photo album, this morning was the day that Roxanna, Kristina, and I sat in the front row of the van. So we get to Hormigueros and the steps to the church were no joke. My professor says that if you want a wish to come true then you have to walk up the steps on your knees.
- the stairs are too high
- it’s brick
- your knees will be busted
So we finally get to the top and the view is pretty nice. The church was dark on the inside, and I don’t know what to do in a Catholic church, so I take one lap around and then just sit there. I didn’t even feel comfortable taking pictures (even though everyone else was). So we leave and at that point I’m over it. I’m tired and done and my pants are too tight. They make us take a picture on the steps and I realize that I am literally behind someone, but I just remain there. So we are on our way back when suddenly one of our leaders gets persuaded by some woman into taking us to see this art museum. So we receive a wristband and a lanyard which was nice and then she takes us across the street to this small student art museum and it was interesting. A lot of nipples. She led us upstairs and I took one look around and then went back downstairs because I was literally ready to get back in the van. Damn, I haven’t really realized how many times I was done until I’m writing it down. I guess because it only lasted like 20 minutes tops. I always look back on this trip with the idea that I stayed in a good mood. I really had a very very good time there. I was just tired. So we drive to lunch. It was so nice! The food and the view. The sun started to come out a bit. We got a super long table outside and the restaurant was right on the beach. The food was good except today, the rice and beans I had was not just rice and beans. It have bacon in it and I didn’t even realize! But the pasta was good though. So I take pictures and get pictures of me in front of the beach. Then I change into shorts because the sun is really coming out now and my legs don’t deserve this disrespect. So we just kind of chill and then we get back in the van. Then, surprise! Another place not on the itinerary. But the Taino place was actually pretty cool. And it was run by this really nice old lady. We all take a picture together and then get back in the vans. Then, blast off! When I tell you we zoom, zoom, zoomed. We literally drove so damn fast. Kristina and I bust out laughing. I bet I was crying from laughing so hard. Especially when at one point we were like going around curves and I don’t know if we were going up another mountain, but we were really swerving and really rushing. So getting closer to the beach, we go through Bumpville USA. The roads were so rocky and I know these rental vans were not necessarily equipt with the right tires for this type of terrain. So we get to this conservation area and this guy with a long beard and a golf cart led us to this HUGE area of just green. Soft green grass, green trees, green hills. It was like I was in a huge green bowl. So we walk through trees and step on crunchy leaves. Finally, we reach the beach. I realize why we were rushing here. It was just about sunset, so we only had a few minutes to really see the beach. So I was holding my bookbag, and then I wanted a picture with Kristina so I took my bookbag off and put my shoes next to it and we took a pic. Let me tell you something. These Puerto Rican waves are so unpredictable. One wave came and snatched up our belongings. We had to run after our stuff because the waves were taking our stuff back with it. So Kristina’s iPod got water damage, but luckily I put my smaller leather bag in this bigger bookbag so nothing important got wet. So we put our stuff farther back in the sand. And just lounge in the ocean again. A biggish wave came and we were told to get out of the ocean (no big deal, though), and as we were slowly getting out, that same wave kept going. Towards our stuff. I literally lept up on one foot, I guess to get out of the water faster by prancing, and I think I rolled my ankle. By the time I get to my stuff (we literally put it so far away), I saw the wave an inch away from our stuff and then it went back. But honestly, what if we just laid our stuff right back where it was the first time? Our stuff would be gone. So once it was time to go, Kristina gave me her flip flops because my converse were soaked. Back on the rocky roads we went. We arrive at this castle-like hotel, and that’s when we had dinner! Apparently a room is $800 for two nights. It was dark now, so I could hear the ocean, but I couldn’t see it. I had a vegetarian meal that wasn’t bad! It was pasta, but it seemed kinda healthy. So we just talk and chill. Some of us walked around the library of the hotel, then Roxanna and I took pictures of the entrance. We were asked to move out of the way because a big bus was coming. The bus came up and it was a lot of middle aged white people. None of them had cornrows or anything, but I just knew that they didn’t give a fuck about the real things that matter. And they were couples too, so I guess I can see the appeal of getting “away time: with your spouse, but to just not care about the country you just gave a lot of money to… it just isn’t right. So we get in our vans and arrive at our own hotel and I literally can’t remember anything else.
*OMG. I completely forgot we went to the college after lunch! I have to remember to refer to both the itinerary and my phone because clearly I didn’t take any pictures of it on my phone. So we get to Mayaguez and we kind of stand around and then a nice lady that works there was so excited to take us around. So we go into a classroom with a man that looked mean but he started talking and he was so nice! So we start our tour and we are walking down the sidewalk and the real students had to like walk on the grass because there were so many of us. So we get closer to the student center and I saw a boy on a skateboard coasting past us and I remember getting physically angry because he was so fine. So we get there and we are all being stared at. We go to the area where people are selling homemade stuff. I buy two lollipops, one for me and one for Kristina. I’m very nice. So we start walking back, which I’m pretty sure was uphill. Oh yeah as we were leaving the student area, students continued to stare. I wave at them and they either keep staring or immediately look away as if they just realized that we can see them staring at us. So yeah we walk back to the vans, and that’s when we go to the Taino place. I think.
Part I done! Part II coming soon (I have to write it first I am so behind on my journaling)! I hope you enjoyed it and had a laugh too!