Bienvenidos a Havana

So here I am in La Habana, Cuba... We are staying in a residencia in El Vedado just across the street from El Malecón, which stretches along the coast of the city. My two roommates and I lucked out with three large windows and a balcony that allow us to watch the sunrise and the sunset over the water.

We are just beginning to orient ourselves in La Habana, taking tours with our history teacher, Gerardo, during the days and exploring the local areas at night. It is a lot of information to process: figuring out the structure of a city, how to get from a to b, looking through packets of course information trying to figure out what classes to take, attempting to comprehend el español Cubano, which is extremely fast. I guess if I can learn spanish in Cuba I can do anything.

But more than any of that, the conversations have already been extremely provocative. Every new conversation I engage in adds another layer to an already complex understanding of a complicated situation. So many people ask us what we think of the new US - Cuba relations, and I don't think that I'm yet equipped to respond.

What I do know, is that everyone I have met so far ranging from ages 11 to 70, is curious and engaged in the local politics. 

The music and the dancing that I have experienced so far has been incredible. The art at Casa de Las Americas, where we are studying, is some of the most incredible art and design I have ever seen... I am only skimming the surface of what Habana has to offer, and its definitely a bit overwhelming. I am so grateful to have the next 4.5 months here to explore all of these questions.

En el centro histórico

A well-balanced diet for vegetarians

Obligatory cat pic

Students walking in a line holding hands- buddy system style

Centro Histórico

The man trained his dog to growl at the phrase "Wall Street" and at the sight of the American dollar, as a tourist trick. But he also showed us the new pin showing the Cuban and American flags as partners. 

Our history teacher Gerardo knows everyone in the city, he introduced us to all of the tourist workers, a few of which were teachers who started working in the tourist industry because it paid better than her teaching job. Gerardo told us that no one wants to teach anymore because it pays in moneda nacional versus the tourist industry which pays in Cuban Convertible Peso or CUC (1 CUC is about 24 moneda nacional)

Sunset from my bed