Alternative Spring Break – Puerto Rico, Day 4

By Lindsey Zwecker
Photographer: Trisha Cabantac

For our fourth day in Puerto Rico, the group had quite the adventure. We started off going to a local Salvation Army store in Ponce where we fed and took blood pressures of some homeless people. We got the chance to practice some Spanish medical terms and worked on communication with the local people. We served 96 people that morning. Afterwards we went to National University College and met with nursing students. We had the opportunity to mingle with them and hear about their program and Dr. Zhang gave a lecture on NCLEX questions and how to prepare for it.

Next, we ventured to the main Salvation Army building in Ponce where they cooked us lunch, our favorite meal so far this trip, chicken with gandules and arroz. We then went back to the hotel to rest for a couple hours before heading out on the major adventure of the day, street medicine. The group piled in the van and we traveled to Cayey, Puerto Rico to meet people from the organization Initiative Comunidad (IC). On the way, we stopped for dinner at beautiful restaurant, Pastelillos, on the ocean where we ate some interesting paradillas. These were 12-inch-long empanada-type foods that were stuffed with chicken, beef, conch, shrimp, cheese, and the best of all… shark. The views were beautiful and the group had a wonderful time looking at the water and sitting on the beach. Of course, we took lots of pictures.

After dinner, we ventured further to Cayey. On the way, we stopped and purchased sandwich making supplies to feed the homeless with IC. We made our way to the group leader’s house where we then made sandwiches and hygiene kits to hand out. Once all the supplies were ready we headed back out on our van following behind the group leader’s car to different places where IC meets different homeless people. The goal of the experience was to feed and talk to these people in order to establish a relationship and help them out. We went to five or six different areas in Cayey and Cidra and fed them the sandwiches, coffee, juice, and a delicious soup. It was a wonderful experience to see these people and how they live and most significantly hear their stories. We finally headed back to Ponce around 1 a.m. and went straight to bed for our early morning on Wednesday at the Salvation Army Health Fair.

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