What’s the next best thing to going to Puerto Rico? How about bringing Puerto Rico to the Rocky Mountains? I just spent the week with 33 Puerto Rican Expeditionary Learning teachers and administrators, the first ever Colorado Outward Bound course conducted entirely in Spanish. This was not only a huge honor, challenge, and success, but it was incredible fun to laugh all week with such an inspired group of maestros.
“Success does not come to us, compaÃ±eros,” said Jose, 63, to the group on the final morning. “We must go out and find success! We must leave our comfort zones and seek it out.” Jose did just that, leading our boat through the rapids of the Arkansas River with small-boy cries of “Adelante! Adelante!” as we tumbled down the canyon, or during his climb up a 50-foot rock faceâ€”blindfolded! Another teacher, Adianid, compared the experience to erasing herself and starting over; “I felt spiritual growth,” she said about her night alone in the woods, “and growth as a human being.”
This was after the group had come in from their solos, in which they spent the night by themselves under a simple tarp pines. It was an incredible feat for tropical folks whose only camping experience had been sleeping on the beach. They tied their tarps themselves with newly-learned knots, then laid down for a long, cold night in a strange land. “I was scared at first,” said Mari of the experience, “but now I feel calm.”
The group constantly challenged themselves, whether rock climbing, belaying, rafting, or just surviving the cold rain and hot sun of 10,000 feet above sea level.