Even after the hurricane, the natural beauty of the remaining mangroves in the wetland was everywhere. A large portion of the wetland was destroyed during Hurricane Maria. Many of the mangroves were destroyed and the wetland was covered in about eight feet of water after the storm.
Our morning started with a tour of Las Cucharillas Marsh in the municipality of Cataño. We walked through the wetland to see the area we will be doing our service projects in tomorrow and Thursday.
…And then Luis said that he saw an anaconda in there before. I *almost* overreacted. Needless to say, I was a little on edge for the next three hours. I double and triple checked every branch and tree I grabbed to ensure that it was not, in fact, a fricken snake.
My focus was quickly taken away from my snake hunt when an Abington student’s boot decided to stay in the mud after she went to trudge forward. At that point, about six of us got separated from the rest of our group as we went through a series of boot rescues in the almost-knee-deep mud. Thanks to Jason coming back to help us wade through the mud and get reconnected with the rest of the group. With some dynamite teamwork, we made it through the mud, all boots accounted for! #Jason4MVP
After our super adventure in the wetland, we went to the Puente Blanco Community Center where the ladies that run the center made us lunch. (Don’t be surprised if I come home about five pounds heavier. The food is incredible!)
After our lunch in the Puente Blanco Community, we went to Caño Martín Peña for a boat tour of the lagoon in San Juan. We learned about community rebuilding and how the various communities worked together to support one another in the repairing of their homes and their lives after Maria. Seeing such a strong sense of community and neighborly support was beautiful. I can only hope to someday see such strong ties and relations and sense of duty to others in our own communities one day.
Towards the middle of our boat tour, I realized that the seat I was sitting on was a little wet, so I hopped on the back of the boat with one of our guides to air dry the butt of my jeans. It worked. She and I also took our good lookout spot to find iguanas that were hanging in the trees.
We still had some time before dinner, so Luis and Mariella took us to the University of Puerto Rico. I instantly fell in love. Not only because of it being a home for education, but the architecture was breath-taking. Walking around the campus reassured me how spectacular and important the transformative power of education is. I discussed educational programs in Puerto Rico with Luis, and I was sad to hear about the areas that were lacking. I hope that someday the visions I have for educational programming in such a beautiful and culturally rich area like San Juan can become a reality.
There are beautiful people here, with a beautiful island and culture. I hope that someday that is brought to the attention of more people.
Tomorrow we have a full day of service planned, so don’t be surprised if my blog post is a little shorter, because I already know I’ll be pooped! Until then, buenos noches.
(PS – sorry if the alignment is wonky and that there aren’t photo captions… I’m blogging from my iPad and the WordPress app is totally different from the last time I used it! I’m trying to work out the kinks!)