Hi Mom and Dad!As I write this I’m in an old classic car that looks like a suburban and there are 4 French, 2 Swiss, 2 Argentinian, 1 Mexican (my new friend Austreberto), and me, riding inside. They called this a Mini bus when we were solicited the ride by a man on the street named Poopy with a tribal tattoo around his left bicep. That’s right. Poopy. Austre and I thought a mini bus might be something like a Sprinter van, but obviously it was not that. I am passing fields of corn and rice, oxen, horses, pine trees, deciduous trees, palm trees with trunks that bulge like a tall Chinese vase, turkey vultures, jersey cows, and the occasional giant billboard of Che saying things like “socislismo o muerte.”
I spent two nights in Havana which were interesting. Central Havana is extremely dirty and dilapidated. It’s cool looking but it would take a lot to make it look really nice. It’s not unlike Albania in that respect but I think the streets in Havana are much narrower and there are just people sitting around doing nothing all over the place. My first night there I was walking around and met a rapper. This is going to make me sound crazy but the next day I met him and his friends and went with them to a recording studio in someone’s house to watch them record 2 new songs. I could go on and on about that experience alone but I’m just going to leave it at that.
Then next morning I left for Viñales with a Mexican friend from the hostel and I was really happy to get out of the city and into the country. I was surprised to see the quality of life is much better in the country and things were clean and bright and colorful. Austre and I are having a good time traveling together. He is really funny and we are helping each other with English and Spanish. He asked me to go with him to Viñales because I was at the hostel complaining to everyone that I felt like a total idiot because I came to Cuba without even having a plan and my guide book was completely useless. “This book sucks!” I said and threw it on the floor. “You are a crazy girl,” laughed Baptiste a French boy.
Right now we are on our way to Matanzas, which means massacres, but is supposedly a nice place. Tomorrow is Austre’s birthday. He goes home to Mexico City on Saturday.
The Havana hostel owner, Rodolfo, said that the U.S. Embassy is opening on the 14th and that seems like something that I should witness since it’s pretty historic. John Kerry is coming and Rodolfo says it is going to be crazy. So I think I’ll go back to La Habana after Austre leaves and see if I can find some other people to travel with and go to the opening of the embassy, do some writing, and maybe stay in a different part of Havana too. I don’t know if 3 weeks here was too long because I don’t know how I will fill the time but I think that is probably just because I have a shitty guide book and no internet access so I can’t do any research. I probably won’t update my blog while I’m here because I have to do it on my computer and the wifi is in a public park, and I don’t feel comfortable walking to a park with my expensive computer and using it in front of all these people who make $20 a month. Seems like asking for trouble. But there is supposedly wifi in a hotel too so maybe I will find that.
Anyway I don’t know what else to say.
Overall my impression of Cuba is mixed. It seems confusing to me. Definitely a complex place. I’m spending way more money than I expected to and things are much more complicated than anticipated. I’m glad I found a friend to travel with because it’s cheaper this way and I feel safer and at least he can understand the Cubans most of the time. I’m really having to think about budgeting my money because I can’t just go the atm and get more cash, because American bank cards still don’t work in Cuba. Things are either dirt cheap or kind of expensive, it seems. If all I wanted to eat was avocados and mangos I could spend a dollar a day on food. By if I want meals it’s like $20 a day because you have to eat in a restaurant because there are no grocery stores. Then in a restaurant they bring way too much food so it’s just feast or famine. Austre and I have been laughing and taking pictures every time they bring us our food because we don’t understand how they could possibly think two people could eat so much.
I love you and miss you!!!!