Back with the second half of my trip! Just kidding! I never finished writing it. But here is the rest of what I have! How did you like the first half? How do you feel about vacationing versus being “aware” of your surroundings when traveling?
Read & Listen:
Sugar Ray – Fly
Odesza – Sun Models
Miike Snow – Song for No One
DAY 5: Wednesday
So the schedule was weird for today. I can’t remember how weird, but I know for sure from here on the itinerary was useless to us. So like five people went to the church and everyone else came in the two vans to go to the mangroves. We meet a cute dog (one of the literal hundreds that I have encountered on that trip) as we get out of the vans. I wanna say it was a pitbull and lab mix. It was black. Anyways, we walk to the place and we go into this presentation room and have a presentation on mangroves (because I had only googled it once so I didn’t know what the heck we were doing). I can’t remember if we had food before, in the middle of, or after doing the weed picking. Anyways, so we break into two teams and name our teams. So the other team went into the green house while we were outside and I’m pretty sure we were both taking the weeds out of the plants. I actually know for a fact that our team won even though everyone else forgot. Anyways so we just got dirty on our hands and knees taking plants out, picking the weeds, them putting the plants back. I’m pretty sure my crack was out. I’m 100% sure other girl’s cracks wer eout. The same dog was seen roaming around a little, and I distinctly remember someone asking one of the leaders about the dog and he said, and I quote, “I don’t care (about the dog)”. Remember I mentioned that. So everyone was quiet for basically the rest of the process unless we were asking one another for help moving plants. Later we start digging up dirt and sand to make two piles of a mixture of both. After that hard work, I’m assuming we were supposed to get back in our teams, but we kind of just sat anywhere and made two different teams. So basically what we did was plant really big sees, put plants in bigger pots, and took our more weeds. This was way more upbeat, like we got our cheerfulness back. They were all doing the “Jenny from the Block” jokes. After all of that I’m pretty sure we ate… I don’t know. So one of the leaders gets our attention to tell us that they decided to adopt the black dog. Remember how earlier he said he didn’t care? Like what happened within the last hour that made him suddenly change his mind? I guess after seeing the dog sleeping in the dirt like a pig, it really touched his heart. So then we leave to see the community that the government is literally threating to take people out of their homes illegally. I thought gentrification was just putting local business in poor places, I wasn’t even quite sure why it was so bad to do that. I didn’t know it involved being so ruthless to poorer communities for the tourism money. The government thinks that they can do just whatever and be corrupt towards the poorer communities just because they are poor, instead of helping them out. So we take pictures of the murals and look at the nice view in the community that the government wants, then we drive back to the hotel. Word gets around that some of the leaders are willing to take us to University of Puerto Rico, and Lord knows I am here 4 that. I change into more comfortable, and less dirty, clothes. So we go and we get out and go to the front and it’s this beautiful tower thing and right in the foyer is a band type thing rehearsing. They were playing like old fashion, traditional Spanish songs, and we just watched them play. So we walk around, it sprinkles a little. I have a backpack full of shit I don’t need. So we end up somehow getting some doors unlocked to the student center, and people were actually in there. I don’t know why I was so shocked. So one of our leaders knew everyone that ever stepped foot on this Earth so he invited two people over to speak. So the first guy talked and offered interesting discussion about PoC in Puerto Rico and his public speech is one that I understood. So he leaves, then… My stomach just burned inside because I am so excited to talk about this. Then, this tall ass boy in a teal polo comes and stands before us. We are all sitting in cool swivel chairs, and he puts his thick book down. Lydia later says once he put his book down, that’s when she knew he was about to mean business. I would have to agree with her. So I buckled me seatbelt, and he took us all on a philosophical journey. I literally could not tell you what he was truly saying. I just remember happiness equals movement and he was quoting Aristotle and cursing a lot and I could not stop smiling. Especially when he would look at me like he was a great public speaker. He used his hands and literally made eye contact with everyone individually. I was probably blushing so hard like every time he looked at me honestly I could not stop smiling. So anyways, whatever he was talking about went completely over my head like I got a C in philosophy. So he finishes by saying that we could have his number or email and he also mentioned an art festival the next day (which I am now assuming he misspoke and meant Friday because we went to that art festival on Friday and had I known what he really meant we could have asked him about it and made some true plans) and then we all clapped for him, and he was being all modest, and I knew I loved him. So we leave, a then, I got the bright idea to open my mouth and tell my friends I wanted his number. Long story short I was being dragged back up the hill by a strong Elizabeth and Sydney to get his contacts… when in the end I was too scared to speak and Sydney ended up asking. The whole thing was so awkward I hate even writing it.
That’s all I wrote! I wrote down to remind myself to write about another really awkward moment the same night but I forgot! Basically we were both trying to put our hands around each other’s waists and it was so uncomfortable and then they wanted to take another picture so in the next photo we just didn’t touch each other and it was so awkward. It wasn’t the photo seen above. I don’t think I will ever even post that photo because I know what happened… SO UNCOMFORTABLE.
I want to shout out a few of the people on the trip that made it special for me. Even if the thank you is clumped with other people, the thank you is not fractioned!
To: Lydia, Sydney, and Kristina
Thanks for being the best roommates for those seven days. The amount of laughs we had was honestly crazy. If I was in a cramped, hot room with six other people right outside, I wouldn’t want to be with anyone else. Seriously. I wish all four of us could have been on the same bus every time. Preferably, my bus. I was scared for my life but it got to the point where life or death was rather comical.
To: Syeda, Alex, Rachel, and Jenny
Thanks for being the people that I could have small chats with! You all are nice enough to keep up conversations when I’m nervous or looked left out. This is actually a very sincere thank you because I get anxious and feel left out a lot, so I knew if one of you were next to me that I could start up a conversation and not feel weird about it! You are the people that when we came back to school I knew I had more people to talk to and partner up with!
Thanks for not getting annoyed when I asked you, “How do you say blah,blah,blah” and you kept having to repeat it because I could never remember. I started getting frustrated with myself after about the seventh time I asked you how to say “I am a vegetarian”. I am so glad to have experienced Puerto Rico with you, especially since this is your heritage and you’ve never been here before!
Thanks for treating me like I’ve been your friend since the beginning of the semester, even though literally no one talked to each other in that class until the PR trip. But during the trip you talked to me like it wasn’t your actual first time ever speaking to me, even though it totally was.
Thanks for being my wing woman (sort of). I need someone like you to at parties. I literally act that shy all of the time around a cute guy, just so you know.
Thank you for giving me a tissue when I was laugh-crying/actually-crying on the last day of PR when we were on our way to Old San Juan for the last time. If you don’t remember, it was when Genio said he would see us later, and I thought that meant he wasn’t going to drive us to the airport, so he was just casually saying bye forever as he poked his head in the car, but he actually meant he was really going to see us later. Like in a few hours. By the time I figured that out, I was already crying, but the realization turned into laugh crying because I was acting so crazy. You pulled out the tissue swiftly, and I thank you for that because my shirt was kind of a rough material.
Thank you for a lot of things, truthfully. For obviously keeping us safe and driving half of us around everyday. But, something that it very high up on my grand list of “I’m judging you if you don’t do this”, you went around and shook everyone’s hand and asked for our names. Woah. And you were the only one to do that without me forcing them to remember my name from frustration. Thanks for also making me feel silly. This isn’t supposed to be sarcastic. You never realize how boy-crazy you sound until you’re in a place you’ve never been with people you’ve never met. Every single time I said something that sounded obsessive you caught me. Every time. My favorite time is after a boy encounter Sydney and I did the “We’re All in This Together” dance from High School Musical. Sydney bust out laughing and stopped dancing and that made me do the exact same. It took me a couple of seconds to realize you just witnessed that entire scene, and you just stood there shaking your head. I wish there could be a montage of you reacting to weird things that I do.
To: Genio, Quiquito, and Michael
Thank you for also keeping us safe. At first I was scared because I thought I would feel like a student learning from a teacher this entire trip, but actually it was more like a friend talking to a friend (kind of… sometimes).
To: Luis (if that even is your real name… no one really knows)
Thanks for being really friendly even to people who aren’t very talkative. The day you told some of us that you hear everything we say, woah that was a real life-changer. I wish I would have seen my face. I sure did see Sydney’s. When I yelled at you for remembering Kristina’s name and not my name, I hope you realized I was kidding (well… half kidding). At least you learned it after that.
To: Dr. Ocasio
I can’t believe I got to go on this trip! I almost didn’t, remember that? Thank you for showing us around the place you grew up. It was really amazing to see some places through your lens.
To: Dean Kijua
Thank you for being a part of this trip! I never knew I could talk to an authority figure like they are just a normal person. There were so many funny moments on the bus, I’m glad you came along!
I hoped you enjoyed it even though I had three more days left of laughter and exploration that I was too lazy to finish writing… I did make a small video of it if you want some visual effects. I didn’t even talk about El Yunque (even though it’s in the title…because I was supposed to talk about it), but you can see it in the video!
Talk to you soon,