Monday, April 2, 2012

Traveling Friends- Cuba

Last week I shared with you a "Traveling Friends" post from Peru. I know that many of you are eager to see what country we have moved on to, but I am really excited to share another reader's travels with you. 

A couple of months ago when we were learning about Cuba, I found out that one of my readers was heading there and she wanted to share her journey with us. I wasn't able to share her trip when we finished our Cuban "tour" because of the timing of her actual trip and our pretend trip. She just sent me her photos and I just don't want to wait any longer to share them. So, you will have to wait a few more days to see what we are up to, but in the mean time please check out Emily Albee's fantastic tour of Cuba. 

EMILY: I have returned from a tremendous and transformative experience in Cuba. Our Witness for Peace delegation with the Martin Luther King Center in Havana explored Cuban infrastructure via education, healthcare and foreign policy. 

MSTG: What kind of animals did you see? 
EMILY: Cuba has beautiful birds throughout the country. There are lots of dogs roaming the city. We made it out to a farm in tobacco country and encountered wild turkeys that enjoyed showing off their plumage for us. At a scenic stop, we also encountered a man giving rides on an ox. 

MSTG: What do the houses look like?
EMILY: The houses in the city are usually concrete buildings with multiple units with pluming and electricity. The country does experience black outs for hours or days, so we experienced life without electricity for a while. The houses in the country are one story wooden or concrete structures with thatched palm roofs.

MSTG: What did you use for transportation primarily during your visit? 
EMILY: Our primary transportation for our trip was a bus owned by the Martin Luther King Center in Havana. We had an excellent bus driver, Alejandro, who navigated the streets of Havana and the smaller rural roads out west in tobacco country in Vinales and Puerto Esperanza. We were able to drive around in the fantastic older cars on the island that are primarily used as cabs. Transportation is tough in Cuba. It is not unusual for people to hitch hike and wait for hours on end for a ride.  

MSTG: What was your favorite meal that you ate while in Cuba? 
EMILY: My favorite meal consisted of fresh garden cucumbers, tomatoes, rice, beans, fried yucca, and fish.  

MSTG: Did you see any good live music?
EMILY: Tremendous live music and dancing. Salsa is a lot of fun with drumming, guitar, maracas, and other percussion instruments. Cubans also love the Beatles and Queen, so we experienced versions of their cover songs which was quite fun. There is a bronze statue of John Lennon in a peace park which is a popular photo. A 94 year old man is the keeper of John Lennon's glasses and provides information to the visitors. I play guitar and made a lot of connections with various musicians on our trip who let me play music with them.  We built friendships despite the language barrier with the power of music!

MSTG: What were the children doing?
EMILY: The children were attending school. We had an opportunity to visit a music school and hear choral and instrumental performances they prepared for us. Primary students wear state issued red school uniforms, middle school kids wear mustard color uniform, and high school students wear blue. We had a chance to explore Universidad de la Habana and spoke with college students. In Cuba, a college education all the way up to a Ph.D level is paid for. We also visited the Latin American School of Medicine which trains doctors who provide medical services all over the world.  

WOW! Thank you Emily! Your answers to the questions coupled with your photos have beautifully illustrated your trip. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us! 
Emily's trip was made possible by the Witness for Peace Cuba delegation

Check out our Cuban tour from home here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
Check back on Thursday to see what country we are focusing on this month. 

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