Today we attended the art and revolution museums, two places with very different perspectives. At the art museum we saw how various artists criticized the political and social institutions that followed the revolution. The revolution museum represented a much more idealistic view of the leaders and their actions. We then visited Hemmingway’s estate and saw where he wrote and stayed while he lived in Cuba. Finally, we attended a dance class that will be performing for the entire country and we danced with them.
We started our day with a nice, lengthy stretch facing a beautiful view on the roof of our Viñales homestay. After saying goodbye to our favorite dog in all of Cuba, Sebastian (initially named Roofus by us because he lives on the roof), we drove to an overlook of the mountains for our final glimpse of the beautiful landscape. Taking in the view, capturing our final photos, and absorbing the emanating peacefulness was the ideal way to close out our time in Viñales. We got in the car, our excitement palpable, for our highly-anticipated trip to the beach. It took a couple hours, but once we got there, everyone knew it was worth the wait. The water was crystal clear with smooth waves and just cool enough to give you a refreshed feeling. Most of us got a little sunburnt, but we trust that it will be tan in a couple days. Plus, it was definitely worth the burn.
When it was time to leave the beach, we packed up, hopped in the van, and headed home. On the way, most of us fell asleep within a minute of driving. Personally, I remember driving through Havana and past the plazas and vibrant buildings that we had visited during our second day of being in Cuba. Finally, after arriving back at Betty’s Homestay, we had the chance to grab our luggage and return to our rooms for some rest and freetime. Later at dinner, our student friends (idk what to call them) joined us again. All of us recalled the hilarious events that happened at the beach and had many laughs at past and new memories: Jenga, fighting sharks (a joke), fears of bubbles and bananas, Linda’s humor, and Roofus, the roof dog. After dinner, the group split up into girls and boys for two separated discussions on gender roles. It was very enlightening to hear and learn about the similarities and differences of gender roles in Cuba when compared to the United States. At the end of the day, it’s nice to look back and recall everything that we experienced. Everyday, we become closer as a group and learn so much which makes the experience ten times better.
Grace & Bev
Hey Mom it’s Linda, we are thriving. Yes, we’re enjoying our stay here. And no, I didn’t spend all my money…. Today in Cuba, it wasn’t the best, because I’m not an outdoorsy type of person. The journey up the mountain was extremely challenging, but once I saw the beautiful view, it was exceptional. We went in a cave and then on a boat inside the cave, it was crazy. I then bought a wonderful hat made out of leaf material, and negotiated to buy 2 hats for 10cucs, instead of 6cucs each. It was a little bit of an impulsive buy, but man am I happy to have it. I then bought gifts for grandma, grandpa, and aunty. Everyone is really nice and I honestly think, everyone here is really chill. We get along really well, and at first, I was questioning this group of people and how well we would get along. And I’m really happy to have met these amazing people. I have become a Jenga freak, and I’m a secret master at Jenga, it’s also my new favorite game, and I think that we should buy it. I’m also throwing away my phone (ha-ha never) and traveling the world. Thank you so much to everyone that made this trip possible, and I love you guys, and to all the parents reading this, Chris is great! He’s truly the man! As far as I know, everyone is having a fun time, and we would all do it again.
Hey mom, dad, and Chelsea, I hope you guys are doing ok. I’m doing great here in Cuba experiencing great things just like you guys wanted me to. So today, we had the opportunity to go to a tobacco field and learn how they are made and get to have an intensive conversation about the other work done there. Then we went to see this beautiful prehistoric mural that was hundreds or thousands of feet high that took 20 people over 4 years to make. While we were still out and about that water boat tour in the large cave, that was an incredible sight. After that the gang and I went on an adventure into Vinales to local shops to get some small souvenirs. We took pictures and walked around talking to locals as we were the foreigners in their land on our own. This is honestly the greatest chance to receive a once in a life time opportunity, to meet and make a difference in the lives we have touched. So, thank you mom and dad for pushing me to go on this trip, I love you guys and see you soon.
Today we traveled to the cultural project Patio de Pelegrin. This project aims to bring a sense of culture and community to an area in which it was previously lacking. The director is an artist who formerly worked for the Cuban Ministry of Culture, so he has experience creating cultural projects in areas and overseeing work. The project heavily relies on community engagement and is, thus, heavily integrated within the community. The project is headquartered on a large plot of land with organic gardens and chickens that they use for their meals. It also has a surprisingly robust ceramics workshop where members build and paint pottery to sell or give to the community. This project is a unique entrepreneurial endeavor that we were happy to be a part of.
For our work with the project, some of our group painted previously fired pots and some or our group worked to recreate different artworks found around the studio. Even though parts of our group were skeptical going into the experience, everyone felt that they got something out the art. Most of us thought that the painting was very therapeutic. We linked our art to our feelings for that day by adding a piece of home to the work, or using our piece to inspire others through an inspirational quote. I personally enjoyed using my hands to sculpt different figures. One thing I noticed about the artwork is the minimalist way it was created. The clay pieces are so simple and easy to recreate, but, at the same time, the art looks amazing and lifelike. At the end of the day, we each got to take home a piece of the art we created. Everyone had a great time and are excited to bring what we learned back to the states.
We are now in Viñales, a beautiful green hilly paradise.
Leaders of the Day
Lucy & Nolan
Today we went to visit Old Havana, a part of town enriched with history and culture. Immediately after hopping out of the van, we were greeted by stunning architecture. We then toured through the four different squares, each a hallmark of Old Havana: Plaza de San Fransisco, Plaza Vieja, Plaza de la Catedral, and Plaza de Armas. During our tour, we ran into a group of elementary students at P.E. who we got to talk with and whom some of us even raced! We finished our tour of Old Havana with a scavenger hunt where students got the opportunity to meet locals and practice their Spanish while navigating the area.
After a short snack break under the shade at the Plaza de Armas, we boarded the van and visited Pro Danza, a professional ballet company. We watched two groups rehearse for their July performance. Laura Alanzo, the instructor, even had some of us join in, lifting professional ballerinas and even being lifted. Following our time at Ronda Danza, the ballet building over a century old, we had a delicious meal at Biky where we discovered the wonders of mint lemonade.
After an hour of workshops and journaling, we went to Clave del Sol – the highlight of our day. Clave del Sol is an organization that teaches children guitar and percussion in Havana. They performed four songs for us, and then attempted to teach us the guitar… some of us were more successful than others. It was amazing how music was able to transcend the language barrier. At the end of the day, we returned to Casa Betty for a great meal with local Cuban students, followed by intense rounds of Jenga and an introduction to dominos. Yesterday was an absolutely amazing first day, and we are all so excited for the adventure that awaits us tomorrow.
Hello friends and family of the Blair Academy program in Cuba,
The Blair group arrived in Cuba today and all are happy, healthy, and in good spirits! They will continue to post updates when they get internet access. They are excited for all of the activities to come! Please don't hesitate to reach out to the WLS office at 303-679-3412 with any questions or concerns.
Thank you for your continued trust and support,
The WLS team
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