Day 4: We visited Santa Clara Ballet and Dance School and were treated to a dance performance. The kids performing were about 12 and in their second year in residence. When asked what they liked most about being in the school, one answered….dancing. When asked what they liked least, another answered….homework. Universal answers. I have come to realize that I was wrong to try to brush up on my Spanish as preparation for this trip. What I really needed to do is take dance lessons. So much non-verbal communication happens there through dance. My daughters dance here in the U.S and I am humbled by the Cuban love of dance without fancy pointe shoes, mirrored dance studios, and sleek outfits. These kids spend their mornings dancing, have lunch and then attend regular school classes that end at 5 pm (followed by homework). I learned a lot about how much one can do with passion, with so little. Kids smiling and dancing, yes, that certainly was one of my many favorite moments in Cuba.
Next, we had the pleasure of visiting, La Coincedencia Fruit Farm and Ceramic Art where mangoes and ceramic hearts hang from trees. What a magical place! What creativity, passion, and generosity of the owners( who rent the land from the government as long as the farm is productive). They shared the sweet tropical “fruits” of their labor. We also enjoyed visiting the ceramics workshop.
For our final activity of the day, we went to the Che Guevara museum and mausoleum. This was the only place where we felt the presence of the government in the form of guards. It is always fascinating to see how a people imagine their histories and identities through their heroes. The Cuban people have certainly embraced Che as their own.
We concluded our busy day arriving at Varadero, a beach resort popular among Europeans and Cubans. This mid-week shift in rhythm was welcomed. We had dinner at the Melia hotel buffet. Overwhelming and my least favorite of all our meals. Although a beach resort, we had much to learn in Varadero on day 5.
Coffee at the fruit farm was actually a type of tea. Really good.