First day of class

Published: August 25th 2007
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Spanish class started at 8.30am. It ends at 1.30pm. I have lunch at my casa. It's a huge meal - fruit, salad, rice, beans, some kind of meat and banana fritters for dessert -- there's no way I'm going to lose kgs here. And it's mangos mangos everywhere! I'm loving it!

I have dance lessons at 4.00pm where I'm learning 'Casino Salsa' which is the Cuban form of salsa and apparently different from other forms of salsa danced around the world. I suck at it but at least I'm giving it a go. My dance teacher's name is Ramon.

My host family's upstairs neighbour must be a young guy because he has lots of guys come over who sit on the stairs which are outside my bedroom window. He plays a mix of reggaeton, Marc Anthony and Beyonce in Spanish and bad House music. Really really loud. Which balances out nicely that I'm woken at 6.00am by noisy roosters. If I hear Rhythm Is A Dancer or 100% Pure Love (does he own an old WildFM CD?) again, I will scream.

Tonight I attended an information briefing at Raquel's (the course co-ordinator) house at 8.00pm where I met some other students - 2 from Sweden, 1 from Austria, 1 from Poland, 1 from Iceland and 1 token male who is Australian. They range in age from 18 to 31 with the Aussie bloke being in his 40s.

There are weekly briefings held on Monday evenings for new students and Thursday evenings where a vote is taken regarding what weekend activities students wish to take part in. Last weekend they went to the beach.

After the information briefing a few of us went to Carnival. The festival is held to commerate Fidel overthrowing Batista. The actual public holiday is 26 July but the carnival lasts a week. The streets are closed off and lined with food and alcohol stalls and the worst port-a-loos I've ever seen. Basically they're a bamboo box with no toilet, it's simply there to give some modesty to the people pissing in the gutter. The stench is overwhelming so I try my best to avoid walking past them but it's not easy as they're everywhere. My host family lives conveniently close to where Carnival is and not far from the central town of Santiago. More importantly, I live not far from the Hotel Santiago where there is a beautiful pool, cocktail bar and internet access.

Santiago men are much more sleazier than Havanan men. I was warned about it but I wasn't prepared. It's a real turn off to enjoying this beautiful country. They're quite aggressive in that they'll follow me, or step in front of me and make loud kissing sounds. I no longer register when someone says 'hello' in English because it just encourages them.


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