Puerto Rico Journal

May 23rd, 2019

Day One. On Our Way.
Up very early to find it was only 41 degrees on the mid-May morning! My husband and I rented a Blue Indy car to drive to the airport where we met with fellow travelers (other than those who came down early for a little R and R). We all made attempts to wake up with caffeine before boarding out first flight to Fort Lauderdale. We boarded our connecting flight to San Juan from the southern border of Florida. Blue skies and fluffy clouds dotted the sky. We caught glimpses of the islands of the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos.

After landing around 2:30 PM, we were met by members of the team who had come down early, as well as by Sonja, a representative of the United Methodist church in PR. She greeted us with enthusiasm, thanking us for coming. We were also met with the humidity of the tropics – noticeable after our cool spring in the Midwest to date.

We loaded up the suitcases into the back of a van and drove to a local rental car agency. We rented two more cars and our team would also have access to the UMC van for our week of service. The three vehicles would allow the 13 of us to divide into three work crews. Then we took off for Barranquitas in the east-central part of the island, taking winding and sometimes bumpy roads. Businesses and home lined most of the route and after 90 minutes or so, we pulled into Camp Morton. I rode in the van with the local driver (“Chennie”) escorting us and he estimated that it would take an additional “five to ten years” to completely repair all of the damage from Hurricane Maria. Due to the informality of landownership in PR, it was difficult for many to get FEMA aid, he said.

The camp director met us and oriented us to our home for the week. We were shown to our dorm-like quarters. The woman divided into Snorers and Non-snorers and found the best mattresses for our lower bunks. We were assured that there would be hot water!

The kitchen staff had prepared a delicious chicken soup with corn for our dinner. After enjoying our meal and the devotions led by Stacy, we headed to the dorm to make our beds and settle in for the night. Frogs, wild birds and roosters serenaded us throughout the night. Puerto Rico is known for the coqui – a tiny frog that is difficult to see but definitely not difficult to hear! Its call, if you can all it, that sounds bird-like: bob-white.

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