Erste Tag in Cuba
I honestly can’t even really believe that I am here. I am in Cuba and it’s beautiful. When I was on the plane to Cuba from Fort Lauderdale I actually burst into silent tears. They were silent enough for the woman who sat next to me not to notice them. I wasn’t crying because of some super deep meaningful reason. I cried because of all the stress I had experienced in this single day. I woke up later than I intended so I got to the airport in a bit of a rush. As I pulled my suitcase through the airport doors I realized that I’d chosen one of worst suitcases from our heap in the basement; the wheels were leaning inward so it made the suitcase harder o pull. I ended up getting through the security checkpoint just as my flight was boarding. Not to mention I coincidentally left my iPhone charger in the midst of rushing to the airport. I didn’t have any moisturizer, didn’t have any razors. Some of those silent tears were for visions of me with fuzzy legs in Cuba. None of those “setbacks” stopped me from getting to Cuba.
We landed at the Jose Marti airport. My main expectation of airports before coming to Cuba was that the air conditioning was up so high that you needed to wear a jacket, but we were in Cuba. As my cohorts and I exited the plane and walked through the bridge the Cuban heat became a fast realization. Picked up our checked bags and found our program leaders. First order of business was the money exchange. Me not being fluent in Spanish didn’t seem to be a very large barrier, because I got my money. Then we got on the bus and I was able to meet familiar faces and new ones. I know this program is going to be awesome. When we got to our guest house, I almost had a close call. As I got out of the bus I didn’t look at the street and I almost lost my poor life, pedestrians don’t have any type of right of way in Cuba. How amazing would it have been for me to die on my first day in Cuba. I made it to the other side of the bus (the safe side) and walked into our beautiful guest house. I don’t really know my roommates yet, but I know that we’ll get along great.
After hanging at the guest house for a little bit, we got a tour of our neighborhood. I promise I love this place already. I’m not sure what I was expecting Cuba to look like but I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of color I saw in the buildings and the people. Don’t forget the cars! I literally could not stop taking pictures. Things are beautiful here. I’m still feeling a little bit directionally challenged due to this new environment, but I can’t wait until I’m comfortable enough to explore Cuba on my own. We had dinner with our cohort group and were able to get to know each other. I can see that guava is going to be a huge theme in Cuba, the guava juice at dinner was amazing. Also the food is just so filling here, I could hardly finish my spaghetti. Our group is a laughing bunch and I’m grateful for this energy starting on the first day.
Zweiten Tag in Cuba
Today was interesting. First we got up and had breakfast in our guest house. I’ve been getting up earlier, and I’m proud of that. But I also pretty much don’t have a choice, most of our days are pretty scheduled. Breakfast starts at 8, dance at 9:30 and then whatever else. But breakfast was really good, I only ate the fruit because I’m a vegetarian, but that was more than enough. Mango, pineapple, bananas, guava, and papaya. I’ve realized the fruit in Cuba is extremely fresh, like they were just picked from the ground. The guava juice made an appearance on the breakfast table, and I was pleased about it. After breakfast we walked to dance class, in our yoga pants, tank tops, shorts or whatever. It’s not a short walk, but it’s definitely a walk. At the high hour of the day, the sun beams down on our shoulders and we’re sweating before we even make it to the dance studio.
We danced the rumba, then had a sweaty water break, then danced the son. I’m still not comfortable with dancing in front of people, but this is the first day of class, I didn’t expect myself to not to be stiff. I didn’t have trouble with the rhythm, it was really just my comfortability, I expect to warm up soon. We have lunches on our own, so after dance class me and a group of about 6 had lunch at a vegan restaurant. Yes, a vegan restaurant. Ordering my food was the most difficult part, because I didn’t know what I’d ordered. The food was incredibly good, and CHEAP! Like 2 dollars cheap. I could get used to this. Then we went back to our guest house to freshen up and leave for our lecture at 3. We learned about the relations between the US and Cuba. After lecture we went to see the Jose Marti memorial tower. I honestly think that it is so amazing that we are in Cuba learning about Cuba and Cuban culture so that we’re more acclimated to this country that we’ll be spending three weeks in. I honesty don’t know how different this experience would be if we were learning math or science in Cuba, but I’m glad we’re not learning about math or science.
Today is Thursday. We’ve got 6 more days on this beautiful island. And I hate that I’m counting down, but I’m feeling like the end is very much near, because it is. Started off the day in dance class, we were doing Palo dances from the Congo. All I can say is my body is going to be so sore tomorrow, I did not know that I was capable of perspiring this much. The dances have been getting more intense every day. I’m happy that we’ve come so far, we’ve danced so much. I was really concentrated on getting those moves, it was also fun to see everyone else’s determination. The walks back from dance class have become more laxed because we’re used to our neighborhood. The initial shock from being abroad has subsided, and I’ve found a comfortability in this lifestyle. My lifestyle does not match that of Cubans here, so I can only really imagine how things would be if I was in Cuba without a program. But I have to say I’ve gotten used to walking, and taking taxis, the weather, the food. It took me a little while to get used to the food, because traveler’s diarrhea caught up to me, but I’m fine now.
Walking through my neighborhood of Vedado for the past weeks I’ve been here have really grown a fondness in the community here. The familiar faces, and the restaurants I frequent often. Sometimes I don’t even want to go to the wifi wall to use my wifi, because I’m afraid that I’ll lose my presence in this country by trying to connect to my responsibilities back home. We’ve gone to the beach, we’ve met amazing people, we’ve seen amazing places, we’ve seen amazing art. I can’t believe that I’m still grasping for my life back home. I absolutely love it here and it has me conflicted that I’m not sure when I will be able to come back here. And once I come back, will it be as magical as coming to Cuba for the first time.
After dance class I went and had lunch at what I consider one of my favorite restaurants. I got a margarita pizza and fried plantains. Then later we had lecture, we watched some of Fresa y Chocolate after learning more about the Orishas we’ve been learning about for the past weeks. Then we had another lecture and watched a documentary about race relations in Cuba. Reflecting on the amount and different types of lectures we’ve had, each one has enriched my experience on the island. Just simply learning more on the Cuban perspective has been extremely eye opening. I’ve really appreciated how much I’ve learned about Cuban Culture and the Cuban people in the short time of being here. It’s like I have more of an understanding. I have a real perception about Cuba, something I had not had before coming here.