The most hectic, experience full and educational day on the trip so far which was overwhelmed by laughter and the traditional dance, Salsa.
I will probably never melt all the impressions we got today, but let´s just say it was the best day on the trip so far.
Shortly after the lineup in the morning we went through the port security to get on the two buses that would take us to each stop throughout the day. We drove for like one minute (maybe they thought we were lazy because we would have saved time if we had gone there by foot) before we arrived at our first destination which was a historical museum, that seemed to be closed to the public. Outside two men sat and played trumpet and drums which seems to be common on the streets in Havana. In the museum it was quite funny because our guide from the bus who translated the museum tour interrupted the tour guides in every sentence and did not let them finish their sentences. I actually think she took the main character thing a little bit too serious. Besides that, she was sweet and smiled through the whole day which is pretty impressive during this long day. Anyway, the museum had a nice rooftop with a view over the river where we stayed for a while and enjoyed the sun.
On the bus ride to the second stop, we observed the surroundings and it was so outrageous to see how all hotels were top modern and marked with a five-star sign while the locals lived right beside in flats without electricity and windows.
When we arrived to the International School of Havana the students greeted us with opened arms (and name tags). We were divided into different groups and the first room I visited was the library where we had speed dating. The students were from all over the world and I talked to two girls who had ended up in Cuba due to their parents being diplomats. There was only a small minority of the students in the International School that were Cubans. During the visit on the school, we played various games as “hela havet stormar”, two truths and one lie and one where everyone said a cultural shock from their country.
The cars here are amazing, it feels like I am living in a movie when I walk on the streets. Our guide said the veteran cars could be from the 1940-50´s and they are all shining like they are new, which really does not make any sense because in that case the owners must be very good at their maintenance work. As I have understand it, those cars usually drive tourists through Havana.
After lunch break the guides took us on a city tour where we got informed of every statue and building in the four squares we visited. I have come to the conclusion that they are very proud of their architecture. Then we sat down at one of the squares for coffee and lemonade break where I tested a Frappuccino which turned out to be very good. The woman from the Swedish embassy we met yesterday told us that after they changed currency (removed CUC) the inflation has been up to 500%, which is crazy because their salaries have not grown. She told us that the average salary per month for a Cuban is equivalent to 350 SEK, which is why the black market is big and necessary here. That is something we notice when we pay for our food and drinks because the bill becomes a high bundle of money especially if we pay together and it corresponds over 200 SEK which is like 3400 Pesos.
When we were heading back to our lovely T/S Gunilla for dinner we met an engineer who worked at the terminal. It started with us searching for Cuban cigarettes and then we ended up in a deep conversation about education, his life and his thoughts of Cuba, which was perfect for our social studies. Partly he said that the most common university education was medical which is interesting because we have learned that taxi drivers earn more than doctors. Like all other Cubans, this man was very proud of their free health care and education system.
The last and best part of the day was the meeting with CDR. First, we asked questions and they told us that 98 percent of Cuban citizens are members in CDR which stands for “Committee for the Defense of the Revolution”. Later the music started and one dance turned into another, which turned into the whole community teaching us salsa. They had also prepared different activities such as football, blind boxing (dangerous) and the competition “snappa trasan” as I would call it in Swedish. The atmosphere was amazing, the children were so happy and it felt like we danced for hours which explains why we left covered in sweat.
It is hard to gather all the impressions of the wonderful day we have had, but in conclusion, I am very glad that we came to Cuba – a place I probably would not visit otherwise. It is a lot to take in which makes it impossible to bring it down in words, but this was my attempt.
Öckerö seglande gymnasieskola
475 31 Öckerö
Telefon: 031-97 62 00