Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Arriving in La Havana, Cuba

Arrived in La Havana, September 2011

My first trip to Cuba was exciting because, since I was a child I'd read about the island, its political revolution and it's african culture. I'd seek to identify and connect the Brazilian and Afro-Cuban decendancy through the music, food and religion. However, during my first trip to Cuba, I observed that both countries have more in common than I first thought.
View of the bay - La Havana
When I arrived in Havana it was a little frustrating. I was very excited and thrilled, and I found Cuba to be very vibrant, but I saw that people were unhappy in a certain way. In the beginning I did not understand why!!! But after a while things became more clear to me, ( I think this happens with a lot of tourists ).

La Havana Vieja - I'm in a bicitaxi
Well, let's get down to business. Travel !!!

As I had never been to Cuba before, I opted for a  15 days tour of Cuba, going through some of the main cities of the island with all local Cuban guides. I chose this tour of Cuba because I liked the itinerary, and also the fact that the accommodation was in Casas Particulares (which means homestay). I tought it would be very interesting to stay with the Cubans in their homes and interact with them, and in this way gain a better  understand of what they think about Cuba, and the rest of the outside world, as well as their expectations, complaints, likes and dislikes.
I'm in a Casa Particular

Spanish Classes

I got to Cuba a few days before my tour started. So the first thing that I did was to take some Spanish classes. Even though I speak Portuguese, it was really hard to communicate with local Cubans. This was the best thing that I did. I got a private teacher. She was a lovely lady, competent, and a clear speaker - which was very important because most Cubans cut the words when they speak, and it's very dificult to understand them.
My lovely teacher
After learning some Spanish in Havana, I felt much better prepared to meet the Cubans and explore the rest of Cuba.

That's me, walking around practicing my spanish