I just got back from an amazing school trip to Puerto Rico. We started off in Fajardo to do some service work and ended in Old San Juan to enjoy the city. It was a huge eye opener trip that I won’t forget!
I thought I was aware of how I leave my footprint on the earth and how I treat the sea, but this trip really was an eye opener. We picked up garbage from the beaches, trails, and towns. You wouldn’t believe how much FREAKING GARBAGE us humans create. All the destruction from hurricane Maria was another eye opener. Showed us how much we need to be there for each other in times of need.
Before we left we had a conversation about “the white savior”. It’s a hard conversation to have. The whole white savior problem is that we as white people from colonizing countries can come across as “saving” the people from a second or third world country. What are the boundaries between helping and intruding? The whole time we just didn’t want to be this way. When a lot of us got back we all felt really good about what we had done. Our agenda involved a lot more of environmental service. After we got home I thought about the “white savior” subject again. A lot of the work we did was beach and trail clean up. I felt like because we were working a lot more with the environment we did not come across as the white saviors. Because the environment is all of our responsibilities, and we all need to protect it. It really was depressing to see all the garbage everywhere. Humans have trashed the land and sea. So when I was picking up all the garbage I felt like it was almost my fault that it was there. I know I wasn’t the one who used the straw that was picked up on the beach, but I did use a straw earlier that day. How am I supposed to have any control over where it ends up? It is just something to be conscientious about next time you go and buy a bottled water.
While we were in Fajardo we worked with a non-profit organization called CCI (Communities Collaborations International) who put us to work on helping out. CCI is an amazing group of people who have high school and college volunteers come out to places around the USA that could use a little love.
Did you know Puerto Rico is part of the United States? Well they are. Did you know that even though they are part of the US they don’t get any benefits? Well that is true too. It was painful to witness. Being from the mainland you feel guilty for all the benefits you get. You do not get taught these kinds of things in school; the things about the world that are just hidden in plane site.
The island of Puerto Rico its self is beautiful. Beaches, rainforest, nice people, and great food. You can find it all on this lovely island. From the little bit I saw there are a few treasures I would recommend if you ever get the pleasure of visiting 🙂
- The Rainforest: Before we went a friend from Puerto Rico told us that the rainforest are the lungs of the island. It’s true. It’s true for any rainforest you go to, once you walk into them you feel welcomed by all the plants, animals, and water.
- The Bioluminescent Bay: This was a magical kayaking trip. There are bioluminescent bays all around, but Puerto Rico has some of the few bodies of water that glows year round. When you’re in it you feel as though your in a true Disney movie. Just try to time it right so you don’t go during the full moon, because it will be too bright to see the tiny organisms.
- Old San Juan: This is a tourist place, but well worth it. So many treasures in every nook and cranny of this city. Unlike the bay I would try to be there on one of the nights of the full moon because they have a free yoga session right at the entrance of the fort in celebration of the full moon.
- Catamaran: this is a really fun excursion of you like snorkeling, boats, jumping off boats, or just a grand old time. But DO NOT forget your sunscreen.