One night we visited El Morro Castle for the 9 O’clock Ceremony of the Cannon Shot. This is an old tradition that used to signal the opening and closing of the city gates. The city closed its gates every night to protect itself from pirates and corsairs.
We bumped into a few Americans. In Finca Vigia, in Havana, we visited Ernest Hemingway Museum, where the famous writer lived from 1939 to 1960. People in Cuba love Hemingway. It was a beautiful home.
Art is everywhere in Cuba. In Hamel’s Alley, a street famous as a magnet for Afro-Caribbean artists in Cuba, we had the opportunity to talk with local artists about modern art in Cuba. We attended an Afro-Cuban movement show in which we learned about the Orishas Changó, Elleguá, Oshún and Yemayá.
The Revolution Plaza and Jose Marti Memorial were huge. This is the most important plaza of all Cuba and scenario of dozens of Fidel’s more famous speeches. Next to the Plaza you will see the most impressive memorial to the father of the Cuban Republic and most beloved hero Jose Marti. We took some pics here. So did Obama.
The visit to the Cigar Factory was extraordinary. We were not allowed to take pictures while people were working, but it felt like a journey to the past. Here we learned about the history and importance in one of the most iconic products made in the country. Cuban cigars are well known internationally as the best in the world. You will learn of the process from growing the plant until rolling the perfect cigar. The smell was overwhelming. Some loved it; some hated it. We learned about the role of the reader in the community and saw that the majority of the workers were women.
We stayed in Casas Particulares in the Vedado neighborhood in Havana. Many things in Cuba are different than in the rest of the world and lodging is no exception. Due to the lack of hotels and the increasing amount of tourists to Cuba, the government created a network of Casas Particulares, very similar to B&B’s but with a Cuban flavor. Recently renovated homes rent single, double, and triple rooms to foreigners. This provides visitors with a unique opportunity to have more intimate contact with Cubans and also create a good source of revenue for the families. Each Casa Particular is different and the cultural exchange you will experience there is a wonderful experience on it’s own right.
Havana is an amazing city, full of historical and cultural opportunities, many of which we enjoyed in the four days that we spent there. One of the first things we did was meet with a representative from the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples. During this meeting, we discussed the cultural singularities of Cuba, and heard our representative’s opinions on the upcoming 2018 election. One of the more culturally focused encounters we experienced was a Latin jazz workshop and performance, during which we learned about the numerous cultural components that have influenced the development of Cuban jazz. We were also given an opportunity to test our singing capabilities. One of our last stops in Havana was a visit to a restaurant, Paladar El Divino, which is supplied with produce by an organic city farm called Organopico. After a delicious lunch, we were given a tour of the restaurant’s garden. Our time in Havana was well-spent. We had many opportunities to interact local Cubans, learn about Cuba’s history, and enjoy delicious Cuban food.
Natalia Lindsey, Class VIII
“I can’t possibly put my trip to Cuba into words, but I will try. Cuba is beautiful, depressed and joyful all at the same time. The history was fascinating to hear and amazing to see it first hand. The Winsor girls soaked up the same information while questioning the relationship between the US and Cuba and reflecting on The Embargo. It seemed to be life-changing for all of us.”
Jodi Kerble, Math Teacher, Math Department