Cuba – retreat, art, and the beach

Dear Parents,

Do you miss us? Of course you do, how could you not? It’s been quite a while since you’ve had the grace of seeing the beautiful faces you’ve all raised, although worry not- we will all be returning in just over a week to eat you out of house and home, and make an unnecessary amount of noise at 1 A.M.

Now that the introduction is out of the way, lets get down to brass tax starting with my wanting to formally apologize for the tardiness of this blog; you see, here in Playa Larga we’re all having so much fun at Korimakoa that finishing it and posting it the one brief time I went 35K for WIFI, had completely evaded my thoughts…so I’m sorry, but on the bright side, were all art students now (aren’t you proud?).

The past week (November 19th-November. 25th) has been rather relaxing if I do say so myself. On Saturday the 19th, we all woke up at the bright, not-so-early hour of 8:30 A.M. or so for 9 A.M. transport only to wait until 9:30 to discover that not only was there hardly space for eleven people, but also that we couldn’t fit all of our bags in the van along with us. Myself having been in charge of transportation, and having had used the trainwreck I call my spanish skills, was quickly rescued by our lovely O.E. Kevin and without much trouble at all, we obtained a second taxi. Everyone piled into the transport ad we were off to the quaint, little campgrounds that are Las Terrazas.

Upon arrival to our new destination, we were all given keys to our own little tree house type huts, which sat on a nice hillside near a lovely little swimming hole and a daily gaggle of gringos. Ah, how relaxing…and our own bedrooms? Talk about luxurious. After settling in we all eagerly went to lunch, haggled a $12-a-person meal down to a cheaper price, and enjoyed a terribly pathetic amount of food, followed by some relaxing and a very light dinner. Remember when we all thought we were going to starve to death while we were here? Well here we were, facing that expectation, and boy were we humbled after having been spoiled these past few months.

The next morning Chango arose at roughly 7:30 in the morning to engage in some very relaxing yoga and some very relaxing meditation to practice mindfulness- you should try it, very nice. After that was breakfast, and then we hungrily went our separate ways to indulge in relaxation and reflection. Some people went swimming, some decided to read, and many of us were in desperate need for a nap;I personally went to sleep and woke up only minutes before lunch; what a hard life. With nothing more to do, and in need of our most valuable resource,Sarah venture over to the huge fire pit where most of the camps food is prepared and began to boil all of Chango some nice, clean water. However, for some reason, logs in Cuba don’t very much care to burn sufficiently and after quite a few attempts by ourselves (our very own fire, Caden included) one of the security guards finally came to our aid- it must get painful watching Gringos struggle with things- and finally after an unnecessary amount of time we had precious water.

Our third day in Las Terrazas started the same way- yoga in a gazebo by the water, and meditation and a very light breakfast. The days activities consisted of a 9 kilometer hike and a short bird watching tour so naturally we all ended up deciding to go on the hike because lets face it, bird watching is boring. Left behind were Taylor and I, both in need of some alone time; I took a vow of silence after having had a conversation about the benefits of doing so. Skipping all the boring crap I’ll tell you that it’s very enriching and if I could, I’d do it more often for longer periods of time, but this was just 24 hours. We had lunch in the ever-so small yet ever-so beautiful town of Las Terrazas and we got a lovely opportunity to chat with a nomadic, English, hippie and his Aussie girlfriend; he entertained us by eating the bread refuse of other tourists while we enjoyed the best food we’d had since our arrival to this destination, and in format of desired portion size too! We grabbed some WIFI at a nearby hotel and got home just in time for a snack, by which I mean dinner. Being our last day in Las Terrazas we decided to make popcorn and hot chocolate, but we ran into a very similar problem to the water-boiling situation; sad fire, no popcorn, no hot chocolate. On the upside, we had an extremely wonderful group hangout sesh where we designed the game Chango Against Humanity. It’s like Cards Against Humanity but better and if you don’t know what that is please don’t look it up.

The next morning we had an invigorating Chakra class led by Sarah, a sad breakfast and prepared to go to Playa Larga to engage in the festivities of the fantastic art community of Korimakao. All the big people piled into one car and brought our O.E. Kevin “Mustache King” Floreke to the hospital because of persisting tummy troubles while the smaller people climbed into a Cuban clown car. Now let me tell you, this car looked tiny on the outside but whence we’d all loaded ourselves in to the triple row seated car that you all probably know the name of, we’d found that we had some extra room. Five hours later we all met up at a restaurant, one mustache down, and enjoyed a great lunch with an even better surprise waiting for us in the big-people car…CAKE…with extra juice. Of course when you put ten hungry young adults who’ve all developed sugar addictions together, someone’s gunna spill cake juice all over the interior of a classic, vintage, Cuban car. I’ll leave out names.

Finally my vow of silence was over and I spoke again to no end, my mouth missing the soap so many mothers would believe I desperately need. We settled down into our homes and headed straight to Korimakoa to figure out our weeks schedule. We would have a tour in the morning but at the moment we got the pleasure of seeing the dancers perform some of their work, which got intense real quick; after some traditional dancing and some folklore dancing came the contemporary- WOW. All I can say is there was a lot of seductive posing, many shirtless boys, and much water. Very passionate. 10 out of 10.

Our first full day in Playa Larga was filled with artistic talent. We went on a tour, got a theater show about a snail (also very intense) and listened to some beautiful music. Next, Chango and Korimakao gathered in the auditorium to learn names in the most difficult way possible and threw baseballs at each other. We chose our destined paths in the art world and went to lunch. Upon return, we all went our separate ways to learn the ropes of what we’d be doing. Some of us ventured to dance, some to music, a few to theater and a few to art. One student, who I call Saraie because I can’t pronounce names for the life of me, took a liking to my house family and I- Taylor is her favorite- and spent a lot of time with us, including having a small pool party with us and twerking with us to all hours of the night.

Day two consisted of the same artistic stylings, lunch, and more artistic expression; although this day was different because it was the birthday of one dance student, Christian. What would we do? Throw a rockin’ party of course! We bought sweets and ice cream galore and cranked up the music, awaiting the arrival of our newest friends. After the required awkward time in which a party begins, the evening was jammin’, and holy hell do art students party. We danced and sang and talked until late and then it was official, we were all art students…aren’t you proud? Some of us even had secret admirers by the end of the night. The couple days in Las Terrazas and the beginnings of our days at Korimakao have been wildly different, yet both have been wonderful in furthering our experience here in Cuba. The best part is that there’s only more fun to be had with our new friends as we connect to local life on a level that we’ve not been able to elsewhere.

*insert stereotypical artistic haiku about departing here*