Today is unfortunately our last day in Cuba, but it was full of fun activities. We started with a nice breakfast back at the Paradise Hostel. Next we got into some cars and went to the beach. Although it was kind of cold, everyone got into the water, though some sooner than others. After swimming around for a little, we got out of the water, and some took people pictures as others used the time to get a last minute’s tan. After a short lesson about marine biology, we left and went back to Habana. After changing, we got a very nice pizza lunch and some of the best gelato any of us have ever had. We then proceed to FusterLandia, where we saw some amazing mosaic art and looked at some local art in a decorated neighborhood. We finished our journey by going to a local artisan market where we shopped and bargained around for some last minute souveneirs. We then returned back to Paradise Hostel for the much anticipated last salsa class, then lights out will be at 10:00 as we go to bed for the last time, in Cuba.
I am infinitely grateful to have gone on this trip to Cuba. Before coming here, my expectations for the trip were not as high as perhaps they should have been. I expected to be slightly regretful about missing two tennis tournaments happening in Virginia. I also thought the trip would fly by as another week gone by, as time does in the states; it would be easy and relaxing. Now that this trip is coming to a close, I realize that my before perspective on this Cuba trip and my current perspective on this Cuba trip are vastly different. This trip has been more challenging than I could have possibly imagined. At times I was overwhelmed with feelings of home sickness because I felt there was no where to turn for comfort in a setting without people I knew well, much less a setting that I knew well. Being completely out of my element forced me to experience Cuba in a way that was infinitely important and memorable to me. The trip, despite the challenges, was a very positive experience. I formed stronger bonds with people I already knew from school and with complete strangers. I will always remember our humorous and compassionate tour guide Dayan, who yelled “cuidado” as we dodged potholes and dog poop in the streets of Havana. I will remember the open doors to houses and the friendly Cubans in Viñales. I will remember stumbling over words trying to speak Spanish with my host family in Viñales and sharing many laughs with them. Mostly I will remember the vibrant spirit of Cuba, who’s people are loud, outgoing, and always friendly. I hope I never cease to be impacted by my time here in Cuba.