Wednesday, February 2, 2011

First week in Habana

Hola, familia y amigos!

I’m sorry its been a few days since I last talked to you (from Gloucester or the Bahamas), but my time in Havana (so far) has been jam packed with orientation business. We landed safely on Friday evening and piled into cars that took us to our homestays. Andrew and I are living in Casa Baby with Baby, her husband, and their teenage daughter. It is clear from living here for a few days that Baby is the boss of the house, the wearer-of-the-pants, etc. They are all lovely. It has been a little disorienting, though, because Cuban Spanish is very difficult to understand – but I am getting better!

So far we have been meeting different members of UNEAC (through which this program is run) and have been exploring Havana. We are living in a nice, safe, and central part of town. Casa Baby is a beautiful big house…Andrew and I practically have a wing to ourselves! Baby cooks us breakfast (papaya, pineapple, guava, bread, eggs, and coffee) and dinner (some sort of animal…, rice, shredded veggies). At night we are free to roam with the other students – we have been frequenting Calle G and the Malecon, hot spots for kids our age. At night, these streets are filled with Cuban teenagers in crazy fashion, who often yell (in a friendly manner, I swear) at the girls passing by.

I don’t have a lot of time to use my computer/internet so I will now list some of my observations about Havana:

-    there are dogs (and cats) everywhere! They own the streets, beg for food, and understand traffic patterns.
-    The weather is ridiculous – very warm and sunny during the day (every day we’ve been here) and cooler at night – perfect, although we’ve been warned it will get hotter and stay hotter.
-    My tutor, Celia, is wonderful – she is very sweet, smart and patient. She invited Andrew and I to the theater the other night. We assumed we were just seeing a normal performance (she didn’t tell us anything about the show beforehand), but we were actually attending the awards ceremony for the national director/playwright of the year – basically, the Cuban Tonys. It was a closed, televised event. Outside the theater, as everyone gathered, Celia pulled Andrew and I past the crowds and into the lobby…talk about VIP!
-    Our group of students is often mistaken for Spaniards – who would’ve thought?
-    Books are very cheap right now, which makes me very happy.
-    The coffee is ridiculously strong, and the rum, like the books, is also very cheap!
-    The architecture in Habana Vieja (and the rest of the city, for that matter) is absolutely beautiful…it feels as if you are being transported to a different time.

I miss you all very much. This trip so far has been extremely overwhelming, at times frustrating (the language barrier), but mostly exciting. I am being treated very well, so there is no need to worry. I love you all so very much and cannot begin to explain how much I miss you all…even Tyler! I will send out an update again as soon as possible…within the next week and a half.

Con besos y abrazos,


  1. Hi Kathi and Andrew, it sounds like you're very busy and very excited to be in Cuba. What a wonderful experience for both of you. Can't wait to hear more! Con besos y abrazos, Auntie

  2. Hola Kathi y Andrew,
    David is excited about the coffee and I am interested in seeing the dogs and cats (do they really understand traffic patterns?!?). It sound wonderful in Cuba and we are hoping that we, too, will get to time travel like you! Keep the post coming, we watch for them daily (several times daily for me!!!) Love, Mom & David xoxoxo

  3. Hola! Is there any way that you can post pictures? I would love to see what you've described!!!
    Love, Mom and David

  4. Hi again! Just wanted you to know that I went to the Post Office last week and remembered to get my picture taken!!!
    Love, Mom xoxox