Hi! I wanted to send an update from after classes starting. Since my last post, I have visited cemetery Colon, the Jose Marti Monument, eaten at Copelia (quite a few times), volunteered at Muraleando, and much much more. Unfortunately I was really invested in the tour at the colonial cemetery and didn’t get a chance to take any photos. I have a lot of pictures from the Jose Marti Monument and because I’m a student I was able to get in for free! You have to pay for the museum part but I only really wanted to see the monument. It reminded me of the Washington Monument because it’s basically a tall obelisk. At the cemetery we learned that obelisks are a symbol of life and a lot of colonial or Spanish graves have obelisks covered in shrouds (either cloth or carved into the marble). At the Jose Marti Monument there is a large statue of him, along with the obelisk, and a few overhangs that sit above stadium seating. It looks over the parking lot where Fidel Castro gave a speech, and there are two images on the hotels opposite the monument and parking lot.
Over the weekend we visited Muraleando and volunteered a little bit. Muraleando is a community project started over a decade ago, and provides art, music, and dance programs/lessons for children and students in their neighborhood and surrounding areas. It was founded in an impoverished neighborhood that used to be an important train stop in Cuba. It was later bypassed and many people lost their jobs, and the train’s water tank became a trash heap. The heap grew until houses in the neighborhood were covered in trash and streets were full of garbage. The main structure of Muraleando is an old train water tank that was found years later by a small kid in the neighborhood. When founding Muraleando a member of the community paid for the excavation of the water tank. It was cleaned and much of the trash was turned into artwork or cleaned out. Cuban artists provided artwork for the program and much of their financing comes from the sale of professional artwork from their teachers and program leaders. These people volunteer during the day and provide childcare and lessons for the children and then sell their work for the financing of supplies and construction materials (50% of their profits go to Muraleando). Outside support comes from donations and the volunteers who come to view the art and support the cause.
On a different note we just started school! On Tuesday we took our Spanish placement test after lunch at a new cafeteria, and then visited Copelia. Ice cream and other sweets have become a daily norm and after that test and class prep was nice treat! I tried a few different classes this week: Cuban Culture, Cultural Realities of Cuba, Linguistic Studies, Spanish, and Cuban Literature. I’m really excited to get into classes and meet other students! The images below are from a weekend trip to Las Terrazas! We swam in a river, did minor hiking, some members of the group rode horses and went on a canopy zip-line!
Also we went to Old Havana! It was so beautiful and afterwards we went to the Revolution Museum.
I’ll update you all again soon, so much has been happening here and its hard to give you updates on all of it! Besos!