THE LUXURY OF CUBA PART II
Thanks for returning for the remainder of my blog post on Cuba!
I took a classic car tour around Havana. However, since I had already taken in so many sights on my own at this point, the tour felt a bit generic and overpriced. I did enjoy the tour guide, a young woman who had gone to the university to learn German to communicate with the droves of German tourists who travel to Cuba. She reminded me of my father, who also spoke fluent German, was intelligent and funny. She was also forthcoming about life in Cuba and was able to provide deeper context on much of the things I had observed from my short time there. Contrary to what we’ve been taught in America, She told me that the people loved Fidel Castro and took to the streets to mourn his death when he died. She spoke of how despite having little, Cubans were happy. Later, when I asked about the local ice cream shop, the guide stated that I probably wouldn’t enjoy the ice cream being an American, because it is watered down to ensure that there’s enough for everyone. Her statement resonated with me as it demonstrated a strong commitment to sharing what you have, even when there’s not much to go around. Her words also made me recall a memory from two years prior when I was in Kenya. While touring the the Kibera slum, an impoverished little girl shared a small piece of bread from her lunch with several other children. These examples of generosity are touching and humbling. CALLEJON DE HAMEL, SALSA DANCING, A GUITAR LESSON & MORE SIGHTSEEING The following day I went to Callejon de Hamel, a small alley where locals and tourists go every Sunday to celebrate Afro-Cuban culture with music and dancing. There are also restaurants, gift shops and lots of cool art. Famous Cuban artist Salvador Gonzales has a gallery there.
My twin sister Kamilah and me at CalleJon De Hamel
That night, I went to a dance instructor’s home to meet others for dancing. Our group consisted of people from Australia, Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. After receiving salsa and rumba lessons from the engaging instructor, we went to a nightclub to practice our moves. No matter what our skill level was, we all had fun dancing the night away with each other and the locals.
Getting my salsa on with the locals
I ended my trip with a guitar lesson at the Havana Music School - a business created after the government allowed Cuban citizens to own small businesses in 2010. HMS gives lessons in guitar, bass, percussion, piano etc. and is a great way for tourists to learn about Cuban culture through music. The instructors and staff were all very welcoming and understanding. I arrived 30 minutes late because my taxi driver couldn’t find the school (No GPS!), but was still given my full hour of instruction. After my lesson, I spent my final moments sightseeing and preparing to say goodbye to the island that had exceeded my little girl fantasies.