Viñales and classes
During the last weekend of August, we went to Viñales, a town west of Havana in the countryside. On the first day, we walked through one of the area’s largest caves and rode a boat through its underground lake. Then, we visited a tobacco “finca,” where we were able to see the fascinating process of how a family has been growing tobacco and turning it into cigars for generations. On the second day, we further explored the valley and its “mogotes,” large limestone mounds that jut out from the valley’s floor, on horseback before heading back to Havana.
The Monday after our weekend in Viñales, our classes started at the University of Havana. The classes have been very similar to my classes in the U.S., and I am taking our program’s core course Cuba: Cultura, Arte y Sociedad, a public health tutorial with a Cuban professor and two American students, and three classes at UH – Migration Cuba-USA, History of Latin American and the Caribbean I, and Ethics. I am starting to get used to the fact that all my classes are taught in Spanish, and so far I have had a great experience at UH.
In a few days, I will receive my Cuban residency card for the next three months, which will allow me to use Cuba’s non-tourist currency and visit many of the country’s cultural attractions, like the National Fine Arts Museum on my list, for less than $1. Since I also crossed out traveling through Viñales and visiting a tobacco Finca off my list, I would like to add having ice cream at the Coppelia, an iconic ice cream shop that was made famous by the Cuban movie Fresa y chocolate or Strawberry and Chocolate, and visiting the Museum of Colonial Art.
Below are some pictures from my first few weeks: