Lessons learned from a solo trip to Puerto Rico

April 4, 2018

By: Josiah Bondy

Spring break is an interesting time of the year for a senior.

It is at this point in the semester when you truly realize that you are going to graduate shortly and move on from the amazing experience of college.

As one last college adventure, a couple of my friends and I decided we would take an abnormal spring break trip and explore the island of Puerto Rico.

We made some loose plans and bought our plane tickets. Weeks went by with no further initiative taken to plan the vacation, and low and behold my friends had to back out. Here I was, stuck with flight tickets to another country and no one to go with.

So, I went by myself.

A lot of people thought that was a little crazy, and believe me, I did too. Yet, there was one thing I knew for sure: God is in control. I could not have told you why, but I felt like there was some reason why I should go on this vacation by myself other than the sheer awesomeness of spending a week on an island.

I packed a week’s worth of supplies into my 22-liter REI backpack with my sandals hanging out the side pockets and I hopped on my plane to begin my journey.

After a few short flights and a night in the airport, I made it to San Juan, a city that had been around 100 years before the Mayflower even made its voyage.

Blue cobblestone streets, buzzing shops and restaurants, and forts dating back to the 1500s were just a few things that occupied my first day in Old San Juan, yet something was missing. I had a sense of loneliness that one could expect when being in a foreign country alone, but I had ignored the possibility to avoid feeling worried. After a day of wandering around the small island aimlessly, I fell onto my bed and asked God why am I here?

As I was searching for the answer, I was reminded about a contact I had in Puerto Rico my wonderfully worried mother had set up for me with a pastor at a C&MA church in San Juan name José. I considered reaching out to him but did not want to for pride’s sake. However, as I rolled over to check my phone, I found an email from my mom telling me she felt that I should reach out to José.

Taking this as a sign, I emailed José, expressed my troubles, and asked if he could help in any way. José responded promptly, and we met the next day for lunch. He gave me a tour of the city, then proceeded to drive me an hour to Fajardo which would have been an $80 taxi ride! This immensely blessed me and God started to show me the benefits of giving up control and trusting solely in Him.

For the remainder of the trip, I truly lived day by day, not knowing what I would be doing two days in advance. Upon arrival in Fajardo, I enjoyed the sunset on the rooftop of the Moonlight Bay Hostel, situated between the ocean and the mountains of the El Yunque National Rainforest with views spanning 360-degrees around. I sat happily, reading my book and thanking God for working everything out up until that point and trusting that He would continue to provide.

The following morning, I boarded a ferry to cross the seas over to the island of Culebra, home of Playa Flamenco — which was rated a few years back as #2 on Travel Channel for the best beaches in the world. God continued to provide, making sure everything ran smoothly as I laid on the beach, exercising the spiritual discipline of solitude. The two days here passed, and I took the ferry back to Fajardo and caught an Uber to get some good local food – Pizza Hut.

That next day, José sent a student from the church youth group named Rene to pick me up, and he brought me to El Yunque National Rainforest to hike for the day on our way back to San Juan.

Once back in San Juan, I relaxed on Ocean Park Beach for the remaining two days. My hostel was just three blocks from the beach and 200 feet from a café that President Obama ate at, but I had not initially planned to stay here. Previously, I had told José where I planned to stay when I was back in San Juan, so he took me there to check it out, only to inform me that it was just outside the red-light district. I thank God that He sent José to get me out of that sketchy situation and into the much more enjoyable hostel I ended up staying at.

Throughout this trip, God showered me in love and taught me the importance of truly trusting in Him and His providence. As Romans 8:28 says, “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” He showed me that I cannot do everything on my own, but with Him, I can do all things. I am forever thankful for the body of Christ that is set up to support one another; especially for the C&MA family we at Crown are blessed to be a part of.