Its a hot day in late April and I’m in my casa with two days before the end of the study abroad program. It’s hard to think that it will all be over in a few short days; this has been one of the quickest three months of my life. There have been many challenges like learning the language, navigating Havana, and adapting to cultural customs. In my final days I have been working to finish the final project and trying to enjoy the short time I have left. It feels like there is still so much to do and see and I’m sure I will be back because of it. I feel like my Spanish has improved quite a bit, especially in the past month. I have been meeting and befriending more Cubans and feel as though I am just begging to truly be living here. I need more time!
Recently I was swimming off of the malecón with a friend and met a small 13 year old boy who was trying to catch some fish to sell. He was super nice and we talked about random stuff like favorite ice cream flavors, girlfriends, Cuba, school, parkour, video games etc. We hung out with him for an hour or so then asked if he would like to join us for dinner.
We went to an Italian place close by and split a pizza of his choice that was pretty bomb. He told us about some videos he had seen online of president Trump tripping during a speech and another one of hime vomiting during a press release or something like that. I know it is harder to get the news down here, and then I rarely get on internet, but I still didn’t believe it. After dinner, we parted ways around 10:30 PM. Apparently he lived pretty far away and we offered to take him home but he declined. To get home, he needed to take a cab ride about 50 blocks away. In the states this might seem like quite the trek for a 13 year old in a big city. However, Havana is safe and he is sure to remind us of that. We said our goodbyes and then went to do some more work.
It’s fun to try to remember what my expectations were when I applied to come to Cuba. My experience has ultimately prevented me from accessing that mental state entirely but I can still remember some things. Food is much less of a problem for me than I thought it would be. Overall, I have eaten well, although the fruit and veggie portion can be a little unvaried, I still feel as if I’m eating just as healthy as I would be in the united states (It’s a little tougher to find super processed junk food here). The language was certainly very difficult for me to understand when I arrived and now I feel as though I can understand the vast majority of Cubans. However, there are still moments when I can’t understand somebody at all as the accent can be very thick. It is necessary for me to acknowledge that I have been spending most of my time around wealthier Cubans, as most foreigners likely would in this country. This fact has made itself more and more apparent over time. I have lived in a nice apartment in Vedado which is one of the nicest areas in Cuba. The class stratification caused by the tourism industry and black market has certainly surprised me. I hope to come back in the future and spend more time outside of Havana or in centro Havana to get a sense of what life is like for the average Cuban.