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Day 1: Returning and First Impressions

So, we’re back on the island! We were in Puerto Rico for Hurricane Maria. We evacuated a week after the storm so as to give her time to get back on her feet a bit. And passing the time in North Carolina allowed us to spend some time with loved ones while staying in touch with our couples from afar, and helping mobilize aid and to spread the word of the real story in Puerto Rico and her 3.4 million U.S. citizens.

We flew back today with mixed emotions….Excitement. Anxiety. Happiness. Resignation. Frustration. But overall, anticipation. The life of a refugee (even one with generous and supportive family and community) is truly a roller-coaster ride. One moment you’re grateful for your life and everything in it, and the next you are angry and frustrated with so many things out of your control.

So, first impressions. Everything is so different than when we left a month ago, in a good way. For instance, the SJU airport seems fully back to normal, at least the areas we saw.

The most beautiful sight is that of green. Green everywhere. I joke that the soil and rain and sun in Puerto Rico is such that you can drop a seed and have a tree a month later. That same fertility has caused a ravaged island full of barren brown trees … to recover quickly. Leaves are growing back everywhere and I dare say places are looking lush again, comparatively.

So for the bad……the traffic. I guess it is good that so many have places to be and things to do. And yes, we arrived at rush hour which is always bad in San Juan.  But, oh, the traffic. Electronic billboards are even up, many with the FEMA disasterassistance.gov site info flashing. Why can’t the power being used for all the advertisements be rerouted to the homes and businesses and that need it most, we did ask. But it is good to see some normalcy.

So much patriotism. Puerto Rican flags. Signs. Billboards about togetherness and helping.

So while some elements of the San Juan area seems almost shockingly normal, there were reminders of the true humanitarian crisis facing Puerto Rico. Makeshift signs on handpainted bedsheets screaming ‘S.O.S. Help. Food and water needed in Playita’ adorned one highway overpass, for instance.

As we return to our home in Isabela and adjust to a life without running water, power, internet, cell signal, and so much more, we’ll keep this site and blog updated. We want you all to see what really is happening, the good and bad. We have work and weddings coming up for which we are very grateful. We also are signed up for a number of humanitarian projects to help some of the people most devastated, and most without aid and help.

Watch this space. And Puerto Rico se levanta.

Love and blessings to you all!

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