Canadians, Russians, and a Lack of Toilet Seats

Pondering life in Cuba

Pondering life in Cuba

Two weeks down and only a few more days to go! It’s amazing how the days seem so long, and yet at the end of the week it seems as though the time flew by. This time next week I will be back home in North Carolina, with a fully functioning AC and a toilet seat on every toilet I use.

Something I have learned while being in Cuba is that you need to really appreciate the little things, because you don’t realize how important they are until you don’t have them. A lot of things here are difficult to come by, such as toilet seats and fresh food, so it is better to adapt to going without than to sit and complain.

My class got a new Spanish teacher last Wednesday, named Diany. She is very nice but a lot harder to understand than my previous teacher. I know that that is good for me, but the class has definitely increased to a more difficult level. But, the Russian twins have backed off a little. Today they tried to lecture me on the history of US imperialism, to which I agreed. But when they didn’t stop I looked at them and said “Pogroms and bread lines in your country, dudes.” They stopped after that. I felt bad but I am honestly tired of them trying to rag on the US all the time. I understand that they are interested in other countries like I am, but sometimes the questions just get to be too much.

My creeper picture of the Russian Twins. Yes, they are wearing the exact same outfit

My creeper picture of the Russian Twins. Yes, they are wearing the exact same outfit

This past week was full of classes, naps, and exploring the city. I wish that I would have done more after classes, but the heat makes me so exhausted. I just need to sleep and rehydrate.

However, last week, Sandra (our program director) took us to el Museo de Bellas Artes (Museum of Fine Arts), but unfortunately we couldn’t go in because the woman refused to give us the student ticket price, even though we had valid student ID cards. Beforehand, we went to the famous Sloppy Joe’s bar, the place where the Sloppy Joe sandwich was born (I was amazed it was a Cuban invention). There were photos of old celebrities who used to frequent the restaurant plastered all over the walls and the whole back wall was dedicated to storing hundreds of bottles of various alcoholic beverages. The amazing food made up for the art we did not get to see.

A view of the seaside of the city

A view of the seaside of the city

Friday night we went to see a cabaret show at Café Habana, which had amazing salsa dancers and a Buena Vista Social Club band (but not THE Buena Vista Social Club band. I get to see them tonight!). At the end, my friend Gia and I were invited up on stage to dance with the dancers and the band. It was a lot of fun.

This weekend, we took a trip to Varadero, a town that is mostly dedicated to beach resorts, that is 130km outside of Havana (around a three hour drive). It was nice to get away for the weekend and lounge around on the beach. The resort was all-inclusive, so we didn’t have to pay for drinks or food. It was also overrun by Canadians. If it weren’t for the beaches and 95 degree heat, I could have sworn I was in Montreal. Several people spoke to me in French and were very surprised to learn that I do not speak French. I can say Hello and can also count to 7, but that doesn’t make for very good conversation. It was weird going to a place where English was commonplace, after being in Havana and communicating in almost only Spanish. It was a nice break, but at the same time I missed being able to practice Spanish, since many of the workers at the resort insisted on speaking English or French. Someone also tried to speak to me in Russian, which was pretty cool but also pretty bizarre.

Enjoying a cigar because you know,

Enjoying a cigar because you know, “When in Cuba”

I have begun to grow so accustomed to life here, that it is going to be a little weird going back home and seeing how different things actually are. For example, in Cuba in order to get someone’s attention, you hiss at him or her. Just a nice loud “TSSS TSSS TSSSSTT!!” It isn’t considered rude at all, just commonplace. Also, if a man is trying to get a woman’s attention, he will make kissy noises at her. I’ll have to remember not to hiss at anyone to get their attention back home, since I have actually started doing that here. Most of the streets here are one way, so I’ll also have to remember to start looking both ways before I cross streets back at school, because I may end up having a lot of problems.

The site of the US Embassy, which just opened today!

The site of the US Embassy, which just opened today!

Today is the official opening of the US Embassy in Havana, however there probably won’t be a celebration for it this week since John Kerry isn’t here, which is a bummer. But, tomorrow my group will be going to the embassy to meet with the people who are already there, to learn about the changes that are about to happen between the two countries, which is really exciting.

I am still doing very well and am now in my final week of classes! I will be flying back to Miami on Saturday and back home on Sunday. I will be happy to be back with friends and family (and have a functioning toilet seat), but I will be sad to leave this beautiful place!

Doing yoga with some friends in Viñales last weekend

Doing yoga with some friends in Viñales last weekend

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