Travel: Experiencing Something New

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Travel: Experiencing Something New

By Lorenzo Graham ’24

This photo was taken before we left APRODEC while we were saying goodbye to the friends we had made there. This is Manuel. He is the head of APRODEC and runs the Eco-tourism center where we stayed.

As we got to know him throughout our trip, our appreciation for his perseverance in his work grew, and his positive attitude inspired us. He has built the center from the ground up, using only collected rainwater and solar power to keep the place running.

Despite all this, it is so amazing to be there, and everything from the view to the people to the food is top-notch. In the picture Manuel is wearing a Foote hat with a smile on his face, waving goodbye to people he met a week ago whom he may never see again. It’s these fleeting moments that make traveling so special.

Travel is being challenged to meet and connect with new people, and share these experiences together for a short time. When you travel, you not only see a new place, you also meet new people. Although we meet new people all the time, it’s the experience of being so previously disconnected from a person that when you get to know them it makes it all the more rewarding.

The above picture was taken when we were exploring the abandoned naval base that is now APRODEC. On the first morning of our trip, Manuel took us down to the abandoned basements of the former navy base turned eco-tourism center. They are in the process of cleaning up and trying to rehabilitate the place, but it’s a big job. In the meantime, the basements are a relic of the early 2000s, when the Navy completely abandoned the base.

As we were exploring, I was reminded of horror games, where you are slowly and ominously trekking through an abandoned building with only flashlights to guide you, expecting a scare at every turn. It can be a bit frightening.

But that is why we travel: to have experiences unlike any prior ones. And while I didn’t travel to Puerto Rico specifically to see an abandoned base, it was a great opportunity to put myself out there and experience something new. It is these new and sometimes frightening experiences that, when we take the risk, can impact us in the greatest way and create a lasting memory.

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