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Published: August 25th 2007
I survived my first week as a student in Cuba! I've had a good time but I'm ready to leave after one more week. I received an email from Flight Centre telling me they couldn't change my Havana to Mexico City flight so I'll have to change it at Cubana Air on Monday. He said there are vacancies so there shouldn't be any problems.
I saw Julia preparing food today and noticed the plantain fritters I like so much are slathered in butter before she fries them. There's no hope in hell of me losing weight in Cuba.
I'm enjoying my Salsa lessons with Ramon. The first couple of classes we spent just dancing but now we spend 30 minutes dancing and the other half talking about his life here in Cuba. He tells the students he's 34 but he admitted to me that he's actually 40 and married with two teenage daughters. I enjoy hearing him talk about his life and he said he likes me asking questions because not a lot of foreigners show an interest in the realities of living in Cuba. He said about 90% of Cubans loves Cuba but the economic crisis makes them miserable so he's looking to get his family out of Cuba when the time is right. He's hoping to move to Amsterdam which he visited years ago as part of a dancing troupe.
Ramon told me that Cuba has four TV channels - not unlike Australia's free to air - and includes foreign language learning programs and, surprisingly, US TV shows like Friends and the One Tree Hill. Also, on Friday nights, three US films are shown. I noticed on the marquee outside the cinemas in Habana the names of some American films so it's not completely anti-US.
Two things I've noticed since being in Santiago: 1) my sinuses are playing up; lots of sneezing and itchy eyes, why is that if I'm in a humid country? and 2) my feet are swollen; at first I thought I'd put weight on just my feet but Amelia asked Paula and I if our feet had swelled. She's the size of a twig so I'm relieved it's not just my feet that are swollen. Could it be the heat? I asked Ramon about it and he's as puzzled as us.
Tonight is the last night of Carnival. I'm over having the streets blocked and huge crowds of people around me. Next week should be more comfortable. Carnival is the same in every country -- uncomfortable crowds, long toilet queues, paranoia about your money/camera being stolen, drunk idiots being obnoxious and gross. And I've got Carnivale in Rio to look forward too next February.
Tomorrow I will spend the day at the Hotel Santiago pool studying my Spanish. Hopefully the water will be cold, so far the beaches and pools I've tried in Cuba have been bathwater temperature. Not good.
The guy upstairs is listening to a hip hop song which samples "Chan Chan". The bass is so loud it's shaking the house.
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