After class Madison and I went to a restaurant called 7 Mares (7 Seas). It was not a good experience, because the waiter wouldn't tell us the offers they had in moneda nacional so it was expensive and my grilled fish was not very fresh, so I didn't eat it all. Then the waiter asked us if we didn't like it and I told him that it was okay but he was insulted. When he gave me change at the end (3.50CUC) he gave it to me all in small coins. He was pretty passive-aggressive. Now we know that we shouldn't eat there again anyways.
The conferencia was about education in Cuba. It was a pretty long one, but I liked it. I like that in Cuba you can continue studying your whole life without paying anything. The special education program is also really good and for the 5 years that students are in college, transportation and lodging is covered and they also receive a small stipend for other things.
Pepe was there after the conferencia to tell us that they sent Duane back to the US. He was in Varadero from Monday to Wednesday so he had to leave the program and flew out yesterday.
Madison and I were going to walk the Malecon yesterday, because the works of art won't be there after the Bienal ends on Monday, but she didn't want to walk that far in the heat so I went alone.
It was a long walk (from Avenida 23 and Presidente to the Capitolio/Parque Central in Old Havana via the Malecon and Paseo) but I enjoyed it a lot. I took a lot of photos (including ones for other tourists along the way) and I saw a lot of cool art. I was looking at a sculpture called El Arco (the bow - the archery kind) when a Cuban guy and his girlfriend talked with me a bit. He told me that the sculpture represents the Santeria religion and the oricha Ochosi (I think) who fights oppression. (The sculpture was made of bows, arrows and chains). I had liked the sculpture because it represented archery, but I had a new appreciation after his explanation.
I saw a lot of Cuban daily life yesterday--men fishing along the Malecon and couples kissing in the shade of its towers, a man dressed all in white (but still very fashionably) with red and black beads (the colors of Chango/Santa Barbara in the Santeria religion), kids skateboarding and playing soccer in Paseo and artists selling sculptures and colorful paintings.
I took a maquina to Avenida 23 and Calle 6 and walked the last two blocks to my house. I was thinking that I may not walk this way too many more times now. The whole group was going to go to Fabrica de Arte after dinner last night, but Rachel was tired and then Cassi and Lauren didn't want to go, so I walked alone to Brittany and Madison's house. I saw Emily while I was walking and she wanted to go to, but Trina didn't, so she didn't end up going either.
However, Fabrica de Arte (FAC) was awesome! There are a lot of different rooms and concerts going on in different areas at different times throughout the night. The art was really interesting, the drinks were strong and tasty and the environment was really chill. We even saw Cristina, a Swedish student from the university, there and she said she couldn't believe that it was our first time there in our three weeks in Havana.
Madison got pretty tired and and left us after about an hour. Brittany and I enjoyed ourselves and talked a lot about the trip. We get along well, Brittany and I, and I was happy I went out with her last night.
We walked to her house together and then I walked alone to my house. When I was walking to my house, I enjoyed the little windows I saw into Cuban life--old men smoking cigars, grandmas sitting in rocking chairs, the rhythm of music coming from various houses--but when I returned to my house the street was silent. I could see three or four stars of the Big Dipper and a sliver of the moon for the first time since South Dakota.
I arrived at my house around one in the morning and Lute wasn't very happy with me. I'm still not sure if it was because I was out too late or because I walked home in the dark. I think that maybe our host families are more worried about us after the whole incident with Duane. I suppose that the next time I go out, I'll have to take a taxi, although I didn't feel unsafe last night and I really enjoyed my solitary stroll.
Today she wasn't upset with me anymore, so I think we're good. To be honest, today was a struggle for me. I have a cold or something, including a runny nose, a cough, and a sore throat. This means that the Cubans have a hard time understanding me and I get frustrated because I need to repeat everything when it hurts to talk.
It was also super hot today and I was by myself all day, and for the first time I started to feel lonely. I miss Ryan a lot and I wish that he could be here. I feel ready to return to the US but I know that I should enjoy my last week here.
I skipped classes today and most of the other girls didn't go either--but they had different plans than me. I returned to the Museo de Bellas Artes - Cubano, and I was really happy I did because the side of the second floor that I hadn't seen was really interesting! It seemed like in the 1970s there was kind of a renaissance of art and themes of the conquest and the Cuban natives. I suppose that those were acceptable themes for art during the Revolution and the early years of the socialist government. My favorite pieces included an axe made of branches on one side and barbed wire and metal on the other that to me represented the inequality of the weapons used in the conquest (it was called El Contrario), a sculpture of four hands--three of blind campesinos that said "the hand of..." Christ, Saint Lazarus, and the Virgin de la Caridad, and then in the fourth hand were the three of them--Christ, San Lazaro and la Caridad--and it said "in my hand", a map of the word called "Dreamed World" that was made of wooden cutouts of Cuba, and a sculpture called "The truth of the history of the world" that had figures of Christ, Jose Marti, Che, etc. on a stage and a bunch of other figures (especially minorities) on the floor. I also discovered that I really like the works of Cuban artists Manuel Mendive, Rita Longa, and Tomas Sanchez.
I visited other floors of the museum again and the guards didn't pay much attention to me so I took some pictures too. I bought two reproductions of paintings from the colonial period before leaving to go to the Cadeca on Calle Obispo.
A Cuban woman in the line chatted with me a little about how hot the sun was today and about my weird tan lines. I went back to the Museo de Bellas Artes - Universal, but it was closed, although the schedule said that it should be open Monday-Saturday 9-5. I was really hot so I took a CocoTaxi to the house where Jose Marti was born. I had to pay 2CUC to enter and it was 3CUC more if I wanted my camera, so I didn't take pictures. The house was pretty--a yellow-gold color with blue windows--but not very big. I know that he didn't live there as an adult but I still think that would be interesting to compare it with a house of one of the US founding fathers, like Mount Vernon or Monticello.
There were 4-5 rooms with objects from his life--diaries, photos, a spoon from when he was a baby, a map of his travels, desks that he used, chains from when he was imprisoned (and a pair of earrings made from some of those chains), and--my favorite--a spork that he used in Mexico in the 1860s.
I forgot my map at my house so I had to find places by memory today. I walked a street called Calle Leonor Perez (Jose Marti's mom, I think) toward the Mercado San Jose and it was really interesting. I didn't see any other tourists along the way, just Cubans who live, eat and work in Old Havana.
The market was really big but I didn't have much money with and I didn't feel up to bargaining much, so I didn't buy too many things. I only bought something (some Che hats) from one guy because I think that they are more aggressive and flirt a lot while they're trying to sell, calling you things like "mi princesita" and such. After that I just bought from the female vendors. I liked the paintings by the artists there (men and women) there, but I didn't really have enough money for art. I'll have to go back before we leave to buy some.
I bought a doll for my mentee, a wooden ship for Timmy, and necklaces made from bent forks for Becky and Rachel. For me I bought a necklace made from abalone shell and a case of butterfly specimens for my study at home. I wanted to buy more but I had to save money for lunch and for this weekend. Maybe I'll go back the last day and spend the rest of my money.
After the Market, I was really tired so I took a taxi to my house and rested a bit. I went to Habana Libre for lunch and to use the internet. I miss Ryan a lot and it's difficult to not be able to talk to him or my family. Today Lute asked me if I was going to call him, but I said, no because it's expensive and it'll make me miss him more. It's difficult because I'm spending a whole month here and I'll never be able to share all of it with him or anyone else.
I knew I should go somewhere different after Habana Libre, maybe Plaza de la Revolucion or the Cristobal Colon cemetery like the other girls, but I was feeling too tired and sick and even a little sad, so I took a maquina back to my house here and took a nap. I have been resting and now I need to pack for the overnight on the Santa Clara trip tomorrow. What I want more than anything this weekend is a hotel that has a pool. (Check out my subjunctive forms).
Well then, until tomorrow...