Russ, a participant of Go Learn’s 2016 trip to Cuba, shares his first impressions of the island:
Like visits to other countries–my first impressions included the realization that ‘we are not in the USA any more!’ As the visit progressed, though, I realized that I was glad to be in a totally different country!
I was impressed with the feeling expressed by Cubans that they consider themselves a people–a culture–a force in the world that is unique. I learned that even though they have had economic and even political struggles–they are proud to be Cubans–and they pull together in an inspiring way. I liked the “vibe” of the Cuban people.
I was impressed by the old cars–of course. They were everywhere. Some were junkers. Some were impressive. Some looked impressive with their vibrant colors and shiny chrome accouterments–but under the hood were really junkers. But, the drivers were proud of the cars and have done wonders keeping them running. I noticed that much of the art work for sale focused on glamour views of those cars. Riding in one was a fun experience. Photographing them was wonderful–I wish we were still there so I could keep taking those pictures. One must be a prize winner!
I loved the music–which was everywhere. Little combos with bongos, guitars, and maracas–and bigger groups with trumpet players that would wow Louis Armstrong. The rhythms were compelling. The other music was also fantastic. I was impressed with the precision and excellence in performing by the choral group Canticle Novus. That was world class music. And so was the fluted sextet playing into the night at the hotel. These are products of the culture–but also of the impressive educational system in Cuba. They do music well.
The side salads–simple as they were–get a mention. There were generally some shredded cabbage surround by tomatoes and cucumbers–and once in a while a little shredded lettuce. That is basic food culture. The rice and meat were there every meal–and they were good. The food was tasty–if a little bland if your expectations was for a version of Mexican food. That is not it–it is Cuban food!
The weather was pleasant–very few rain drops–good sunshine–and clean air.
The architecture was impressive–even those buildings in bad states of repair. The exude history and are interesting to visit.
Did I mention the bright old cars?
I loved visiting Cuba. Let’s go again!