Hello family, friends, and all peoples who have come to this blog. It is I, Caden,
your guide to all things about our tour of Cuba. Last week in our travels we were in the
city of Santiago, known for its rebellious history, Afro-Cuban culture, and being really,
really hot. After the excitement of Hurricane Matthew, and the disappointment and relief
that it didn’t hit, we got settled in for our time in Santiago. This week we had a firm grasp of life in Santiago, the casa particulars we stayed at became our houses, we all knew the nearby shops and stores, and we got into a schedule.

In the morning we’d have Spanish and dance classes, learning (and for me, failing) some new moves salsaing and rumbaing. And we all knew that we needed more practice with our Spanish, learning about all the tenses and each conjugation to each tense, and every… Wait, Kevin and Michelle just got off the phone, we need to go dress up fancy and go to the immigration office RIGHT NOW. Yeah, that happened, turned out not to be a big deal, Cuba just likes to keep you on your toes. We also learned much about the culture in the area, going to a big church outside the city, and then learning about mystical side culture and religion in Santiago in the same morning.

Then in the afternoons we had our free time, meaning we spent it relaxing, resting. Wait, no. That’s not what I remember at all. I remember boxing class with a former Cuban champion, and Judo class at an old dojo, and hectically trying to plan student directed travel for week five, and exploring the city, seeing and learning the small fraction we can in our two weeks here. What were those first two options again, they sound nice (and boring). Yeah, free time had a lot going on, and I can’t speak for everyone, but I did a lot. I learned how to throw left hook (didn’t say I could do it well), found a restaurant that only serves chocolate in all its glorious forms, went to an ice cream store that occupied the top flour of maybe the tallest building in Santiago, and learned that the OE’s actually don’t have the easiest jobs in the world when working on student directed travel.

At night we got dinner either at our casas or at a restaurant, plan some time for the whole group to hang out. The night before leaving Santiago our teachers of dance, language, and culture all came to the Casa de Africa to throw us a going away party with dinner and talking and dancing. But in the end we had to say good-bye to them and Santiago.

Last week was the beginning of student directed travel, and that schedule has been thrown out the window and burned. Now the students are in charge, and we have no idea what we’re doing. Now we have to charge right into all the craziness and unpredictability that is Cuba. Wish us luck.

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