There is way too many experiences over the past 2 days, that I can share on a blog. The internet is slow and costs to use. So I will first upload some videos, and then discuss following. 

​​We signed up for a cultural trip with a focus on arts and music. But also, today we met with fishermen and they shared their lives with us. Cubans treasure and save their heritage. The government pays these people to be able to continue and share their traditions, in dances, singing and art. So there are special schools, free schools, where the younger generations can learn and continue these traditions. So we have been to a Haitian center and they performed for us. Then a Cuban traditional school, and we all danced with them. I have never danced so much before noon in my life. So beautiful, so vibrant and the people here are so warm. They are so happy Americans can now see their lives and culture. (Please bear with me as I write as I think). 

Today we visited the school of performing arts here in Santiago de Cuba. It is a small school, but very busy. The school is free to all Cubans and the ages range from 7 to 78. If you want to learn the piano, purcussion or any other instrument…this is where they come. With the embargo, they make do with what they have. While I was in school, I played the clarinet. So the young boy struck a cord with me. He can’t always practice, due to lack of instruments, reeds and instrument repairs. But they make do, passing instruments from one to another to practice. Artists use whatever they can find. It may be only pencil available and paper. If they do get any canvas, paints, they share with one another. In the US, land of plenty, it brought intense feelings, knowing these people, children and adults, only want to practice their passions, and aren’t always able to, due to the embargo. But do they lament, no, they are resourceful, and make do with what they have.  They are just like us, they all want to live their lives fully. 

I also included a video of driving by some rural homes. They still use oxen and carts here for work on their farms. 

These are their “ration cards” for sugar, flour, basic staples…  some fruits and meats are from their personal income. You don’t always realize the shortages until you visit a store. Whether a governmental store, with only canned meats, few fresh products.  I will try and take a photo of a governmental store interior. But life is slowly, very slowly improving.  Also, it is pens, crayons, art supplies, shampoo, soap… that they are missing. But they seem to be, for the most part, a fiercely proud people and highly educated.  Drs, engineers, and teachers abound. 

I could go on and on, but I am running short. And please remember, these are my observations. Only being here a few days, these could change. Tomorrow we will move to a new hotel and the internet may not be the same. So I will do what I can. Til the next time!!