The aspect of habanero culture that has shocked me the most is the sense of community in the city. Before coming here I thought the years of intense defense of socialism and an intrusive state would have fostered a sense of paranoia throughout the island. But the exact opposite has proven to be true. The city contains upwards of 3 million people, but when I walk around with Cubans they seem to know at least three people on every street block, and they greet almost every acquaintance like a brother or sister. Continue reading What does comunidad mean?→
I’m pretty sure that the United States doesn’t have any 420-plus year old castles. And it certainly doesn’t have any that used to guard the bay of one it’s most important ports, or were used as 20th Century prisons. I’m even more sure that if the United States did have such a caste fortress, the government would not allow a massive university party to take place on its grounds. But Cuba, and the city of Habana, are home to such a place, and played host to such a party. Continue reading fiesta like it’s 1589→
My first real night out in Havana was Wednesday. After a meet up with other American students in Havana for the semester, we ended up at a show by a music group called Interactivo. A couple hundred people were packed into the space around a stage in the center of the club. We listened to some great, and even though I couldn’t make out all their lyrics, the various singers and musicians that performed were fantastic. So good was the music that I convinced myself that I knew how to dance to it (salsa lessons are definitely in order).
Our first full day in Cuba began with an introduction to Casa de las Américas, the country’s primary location for cultural research and study, and where we’ll be taking our classes for the semester. After meeting with Casa’s administrators, our professors, and the two Cuban women who will be taking classes with us, we went on a tour of the building. Besides being research center, Casa also serves as a living museum of sorts. There is art on display throughout the entire building, and not just murals and paintings, but also a plethora photographs (part of a year-long exhibition) and literature. Continue reading Week 1→
I’ve never seen a place like this. From the air, it seemed a little like the sprawling Midwestern fields I’ve seen so many times. If it wasn’t for the ocean, sand, palm trees, and lack of many massive highways, I might of thought I was going home.
Even though the customs officer welcomed me to her country, I had a hard time believing I was really here. After leaving the airport we passed dilapidated buildings complimented by billboards sporting nationalistic or socialist propaganda, and along side old cars pumping out plumes of black smoke. In the US when a truck coughs out its diesel refuse the odor can be overpowerfully sickening, but here in Habana the mix of ocean air and cloudy pollutants is refreshing and serves as a constant reminder that I really am not in my own country any more. Continue reading Desde La Habana: Day 1→