Hello all! Sorry for being MIA - internet is either extremely expensive or slow in Cuba, but I've finally made it to a place with wi-fi (Hotel Nacional $10 for 12 hours!) So here is a short summary of the last two months:
After spending five weeks in Cuba and on the eve of departure to Mexico, I decided to change my flight. It was my first visit to the beach in Havana and an afternoon for crazy things: I didn’t wear sunscreen (although the sun was going down), I ate wheat flour (I have a mild intolerance), and I decided to stay in Cuba for another six weeks (I had never changed a flight before on a whim - but it was actually very easy to do). Returning from the beach, I found a place with internet (the hardest part of the process) and had a new flight within the hour!
The first 5 weeks in Cuba were incredible. A few ups and downs: remembering how much I love to dance, getting extremely sick and passing out on the floor from food poisoning, and being reminded that a tourist always over pays, but fortunately never twice for the same thing.
Since arriving in Cuba on Christmas Day, I visited Varadero, Matanzas, Vinales (twice) and I spent the last seven weeks in Havana. Varadero has a great beach, but has no culture or night life. In Varadero, go to the beach, drink lots of mojitos, and sleep early (you aren’t missing much). Matanzas was my first stop and it was a quaint and quiet town. Vinales, while touristy is still my favourite place in Cuba - although I haven’t seen the east part of the country (also known as the Oriente) yet.
After the first month in Havana, I began to to really feel at home in the city. I’d found inexpensive local places to eat, how to work the local taxis and buses, know all the good places to go and dance salsa, took various dance and percussion lessons, and even made a few friends. I see Havana as a city I'd visit regularly to relax and of course to go dancing.
Three weeks of Spanish at the University and three more weeks of private lessons have helped a lot, but I still only have a basic or ‘elementary’ level of Spanish. I’ve promised myself to study harder in Guatemala and/or Mexico.
On Sunday I fly to Santiago de Cuba for 10 days and on March 17 head to Mexico City. I'm excited to finally see the Oriente. Santiago was devastated by Hurricane Sandy, but they are slowly rebuilding.
I will post more photos and info about Cuba when in Mexico with more reliable internet, but here are a few photos from the last 8 weeks!
Hope all is well at home (wherever home is for you!)