Then Madison and I changed money at the Cadeca and we met a strange Canadian who told Madison that he doesn't trust any of the people here. I didn't understand him because I feel very safe here, especially in the Vedado neighborhood.
We had lunch at Castillo de Jagua, a restaurant on the corner closest to CEAP. The food was good and cheap (60 pesos MN for pollo grille) but the service was slow and unfriendly. We could only finish half the food before we had to go to CEAP. I think we may go back tomorrow or later this week but a little earlier.
The conference today was the worst. It was going to be about public health but they switched it so it was about public administration and given by the director of CEAP. She has a really grating voice and the topic was extremely boring. The only thing I learned, because she kept repeating it, is that public administration is like a train and not like an automobile because it has to stay on a line/track. Instead of listening, I sketched the pandas (there's a painting with four pandas on it in the conference room in CEAP) and my drawing turned out pretty good.
We were going to go to Hotel Capri with Pepe but it rained so Madison and I went to Salon Aqua to have our hair and nails done instead. They couldn't get us in for manicures today but we made an appointment for Thursday. Madison dyed her hair brunette and I got a "washing and combing" (a blowout), plus something called gold fluid in my hair. The scalp massage when she washed my hair felt great and when she finished my hairstyle con ondas (wavy) it looked pretty good.
While I was waiting for Madison I made friends with a hairstylist named Pedrito, or "Peter" as he wanted me to call him. I practiced my Spanish with him and taught him a little English. He loves Marilyn Monroe and wanted to know the meaning of her phrase "Let's go". She says it in such a seductive way that he thought it was some kind of double entendre, and was surprised when I told him that it just means vamonos. We agreed that everything Marilyn Monroe said is sexy because she said it. We also talked about hair, US-Cuba relations, my classes, Havana, and the US.
But the most interesting thing we talked about was Raul Castro's daughter. Pedrito and I were sitting outside on the patio where other girls were smoking when a new woman came and sat with us. She talked a lot, about her yoga classes and other things, before she went into the salon. Then Peter turned to me and said (in Spanish):
"You know Fidel, right? How about Raul?"
Me: "Yeah, his brother."
Pedrito: "She is Raul Castro's daughter" *indicates woman who just went inside* "She's a princess."
I didn't believe him until he asked the stylist who had done my hair when she came out to smoke. The two assured me that that was who she was and warned me not to say anything to her about it, and I agreed.
Soon I went inside and casually told Madison about what I'd learned while her stylist was still working on her hair. A few minutes later Raul Castro's daughter was talking with me directly. I was looking at a painting in the salon and she told me about the artist, that she lives in Havana and is influenced by art nouveau. She spoke in English and I could tell that she did have a bit of a princess-like attitude.
Later she also chatted with Madison and I about Madison's pregnancy and showed us photos of her granddaughter, a really pretty girl with darker skin and hair and bright blue eyes. Then Pedrito showed me photos of his goddaughter and when we were leaving Raul Castro's daughter and I corrected Pedrito's lyrics when he sang "Singing in the Rain" because he needed to bring his umbrella. It was a lot of fun and interesting and I'm glad we are going back on Thursday.
Then we had to visit Pepe to show him our new 'dos and, of more importantly, tell him who we'd met! He thought that it was really interesting. We chatted a bit with Pepe and Olvis. I like Olvis but she can definitely be a little frank. She told us (Madison and I) that we need to eat less pizza and soda because we are gorditas (a little fat), offered to wash and comb our hair for free because she thought that Madison's $20 dye and my $9 blowout were extravagant, and then she asked Madison impertinent questions about her baby and husband, and managed to learn much more about my birth control methods than she needed to know! I'd heard that most Cubans were like that but until now only Olvis has been that frank.
[Later on we thought we figured out that the daughter we'd met was Mariela Castro, who is pretty well-known in Cuba for fighting for gay rights there--so that was pretty cool!]
The rest of my night was just homework and supper. Good night. I can't wait to see what fresh adventure tomorrow brings!