Oh, how excited we are to see the sun!
For many of us, our day began early Friday morning, before our classes began. Friday morning, we performed for the Board of Directors, and received a blessing before sending us on our way. We departed the college early Friday evening, and our adventure began. Our night seemed endless, as we waited on the airport—playing card games, doing homework, reading books, chatting—waiting to board our flight late in the evening. Our flight landed in San Juan at 4:45am local time, and not many of us slept for more than a few hours on the short, four hour flight. We left the airport and headed to our home church for the week, La Cumbre Missionary Alliance Church. We were greeted by a few church members, who prepped a wonderful meal of ham and cheese sandwiches, a white cheese desert, and a Puerto Rican cornmeal porridge. Meanwhile, the sun began to rise over the island as we prepared for the day’s events.
After a short moment in the sanctuary to plan how we would stand in the service the next morning, we began to change into our swimsuits and beach wear. Many applied sunscreen to those around each other, and many marveled at the concept of wearing bathing suits after having to wear many layers back home. We headed to Playita del Condado, a small beach with no occupants at 9am in a Saturday morning. Not to worry, as the beach quickly filled up with 54 Voices and crew. The sand was soft, and the water crystal blue, as many of us fell asleep while sunning on the beach. For lunch time, we were on our own, and a few of us went on a quest in the Condado area to find mofongo, a Puerto Rican dish made of mashed plantains and meat (which was delicious, by the way).
After lounging on the beach—bellies full, feeling refreshed, and moderately sunburnt—we headed to our next stop: Old San Juan and El Morro. Once arriving, we had a short walk up to El Morro, a historical castle in Old San Juan. We each had a kite, provided to us by one of our hosts from the church. Many of us did not know how to assemble a kite and the short, two image instructions did not prove very helpful. Nevertheless, all of us were able to get our kites in the air, for a peaceful moment where 54 content Voices had 54 content kites catching the wind, soaring over the green grass and blue ocean. After kite flying, we had time to explore vibrant and colorful Old San Juan, before heading back to the plaza where we all reassembled.
We headed back to the church and had a short rehearsal before meeting up with our host families, who were members of La Cumbre. There are many small groups, one group of nine, and one group of eleven (which I happen to be in). One with our host families, we had a chance to bond and get to know the families we’d be staying with for a week. Once my group arrived at our home, we had hot chocolate, played with our family’s three dogs, and learned more about Puerto Rican culture and recent history. Shortly thereafter, we all headed to bed after a very long day.
Our time in Puerto Rico has been beautiful, sunny, and vibrant, but not without seeing a few remnants of the hurricane and earthquakes. Our host family said we may see more damage and destruction as we travel to other parts of the island this week.
Our very long day in San Juan had left us tired, achey, and very sunburnt, but very grateful to be immersed in culture, have met native Puerto Ricans, flown kites, eaten delicious foods, seen the sun, green grass, and crystal blue water.