We ate lunch at a pizzeria (Buona Sera) and I gave Pepe my guide book to read and he thinks it's pretty good. He also wants to go to the ballet so I can probably go, and I'm pretty excited about that. The pizza at Buona Sera, however, was not great. I wonder if it's just that place or Cuban pizza in general. At least it was cheap.
We had a conference with a history professor and I was surprised that I understood almost everything he told us (he only spoke Spanish), and that it was really interesting. He presented the history of Cuba in three periods - Colonial (1492-1898), Neocolonial Republic (1901-1959), and The Republic (1959-present).
I was really interested in learning about the history of Cuba from a Cuban perspective. For example, during the colonial period they used an analogy really similar to the US "melting pot" one, but using the Cuban dish ajiaco. He said that the Cuban war for independence took a long time because they were the last Spanish colony and so Spain could concentrate all of their forces on the war with Cuba. He also said that they don't consider 1898 "independence" because it was a neocolonial relationship with the US. He didn't finish with the history of the last period but I think we have another conference with him tomorrow.
Later the girls wanted to go to Hotel Habana Libre so I went with them. I sent an email to Ryan and a facebook message to my mom. I needed to buy some water (it's a challenge staying hydrated in the heat here) so Rachel and I went to the liquor store attached to the hotel. We checked out rum prices, which are incredibly cheap--think around $7/bottle for 3 year aged rum of various brands. One of the men there told us that Legendario is the best, but that all of the tourists buy Habana Club for the name.
I wanted to go to the iconic Coppelia for some ice cream today, but when we finished with the internet it was too late, so we just returned to our houses. Tomorrow is Lauren's birthday so the whole group is going to a restaurant in Old Havana for dinner and we might go dancing afterward. When we told our host family that we wouldn't need dinner tomorrow they brought out a fabulous-looking cake, saying we might as well celebrate a day early. The cake tasted as good as it looked, too!
After dinner, Lute showed us videos from Ailyn's wedding. It was really interesting to see a wedding from a different culture, although some of the animated transitions from the editing software in the videos were pretty strange. Three things we noticed about Cuban weddings:
1. The ring is worn on the ring finger of the right hand instead of the left.
2. The ceremony is not religious at all. An official reads something really long that we think was a law about marriage.
3. At the reception, everyone dances, and dances well. As Lute said, "if there's no dancing it's not a party!"
We didn't actually do much today, in part because it was raining, but it was a good day. Tomorrow I'm going to talk to Pepe and see if I can have a little more independence to spend time with Madison or go by myself sometimes during the day so I don't have to just go along with my roommates' plans.
I need to sleep now. Here's to hoping that it doesn't rain tomorrow!