Cuba. In my opinion Cuba has one of the most interesting and most beautiful landscapes in the world. Its location provides perfect conditions for plants and trees and is therefore the reason for Cuba’s unique and diverse vegetation. But not only plants are growing, also thriving cities spread of the ground.
We had the chance to explore five of these and their surrounding areas in five different groups. One group consisted of seven or eight people, including one teacher. We had the chance to visit Matanzas, Santa Clara, Holguin, Sancti Spiritus or Bayamo. The preparations for the week in Cuba had already started aboard the Thor Heyerdahl, our floating home. Travelguides helped us to plan our trips and to calculate the approximate costs. Generally, we were given much freedom but of course there were some rules which we had to obey. The most important one said, that we would have to live like a Cuban. We presented our results on our last day aboard.
But the study trips did not start immediately after our arrival at Cuba, but instead about a week later. Like most adventures, our journey started at a bus stop. Nevertheless one could already tell the difference between a normal family vacation and our excursion after a few minutes. First, we did not get normal tickets, but a recipe we could change into one at the terminal.
Eventually, the bus arrived but instead of making an announcement via the speakers, the driver just came in and shouted the destination all over the room. Finally arriving in Santa Clara, my very own destination, we had to choose a way to get to our ‚Casa Particular‘ which was revealed to be quite complicated, because our options were limited on means of transport.
Travelling like a Cuban, we chose a horse-drawn carriage. A ‚Casa Particular‘ can be compared to a host family with the only difference, that you have to pay for your stay there. It is like a hotel inside of a family’s home.
Santa Clara is a very young city where you get the opportunity to meet many fascinating people, who never mind who you are or where you are from. You will be able to get all the information you need from them, just by asking. Furthermore, you are able to visit original museums, with interesting exhibitions, not just – like its often seen in Cuba – about the revolution, but also about topics of the daily life.
Santa Clara is also home to the Ernesto “Che” Guevara memorial, the location where his corpse is stored, sadly, we were not able to visit it, because it was closed.
Culture is most important in Cuban life. One of the largest buildings of the city is the ‚Biblioteca de José Martí‘, a place for students to go for studying. Concerts are also hosted there alongside with citizen meetings. The best spot to get a view across Santa Clara is a place located on a hill. This is also one of the best locations to get the so called ‚Peso Pizza‘, a very Cuban Dish. You only have to pay a small amount of Cents for it.
Santa Clara was an unique experience. Beautiful and colourful, yet not overloaded. Having a travel group as closely befriended as ours is also a real pleasure and I could imagine very well to get on another trip with my ‚KUSis‘.
For a group living as close together as we do, it can be quite a challenge to be separated for five days. Everyone was really happy, when they met their friends again at our hotel in Havana. Then the time for telling stories arrived. All the groups presented their experiences, no matter if they were funny, interesting, or surprising.