Tatiana here ready to tell you about the two awsome experiences that the group had today.
We thankfully got to sleep in until 7:30 (but most of us actually woke up around 50 past but it wasn’t a biggie) and were greeted with amazing Cuban coffee as well as numerous types of breads and cakes (and mangos of course) for breakfast where we were told we could hang out until our 10 o’clock depature for two different locations. Fritz, Alex, Sky, Chinue, Katie, and I went to a church in the suburban area of Floro Perez and Lizzy, Matt, Natajsa, Emily, Monica, and Lydia went to the rural area of Calabasas. Each of the buses looked like a strange Cuban version of a school bus and the ride there turned into an experience of itself.
Our bus ride to Floro Perez was about a 20-30 minute drive through a mixture of houses and rural fields. The road proved to be bumpy enough to make us all jump involuntarily at least once (but I admit it was fun). When we (we meaning the church members on the bus and us) got there we were warmly greeted by the members of the meetinghouse that we were to repaint the interior of. We spent about three hours redoing the light blue paint that was applied 10 years ago by a group from George School that Fran and Emma were a part of. By the end of the two hours, we had completley covered the walls with the new sage coloured paint as well as most of our hands and legs.
The church kindly served us rice with beans, roasted pork, and numerous vegetable and fruit dishes. Afterwards Roxanna, Betty, Maria-Louisa, and David–who are all young members of the Holguin church–took us to play soccer and tour Floro Perez. Even though we were blantantly Americans to everyone who saw us, everyone was civil and very polite.
When we got back to the church, we had meeting which mostly consisted of three different sermons including one from Tom, all of which I couldn’t understand due to my lack of Spanish. I found it really interesting that instead of shaking hands as we do at George School at the end of meeting, everyone hugged each other. It was an experience that I consider myself, as well as the group, very fortunate to have experienced. Afterwards we left back for Holguin on the bus where Chinue, Maria-Lousia and I were able to have a converation about what it was like for Maria-Louisa in high school. We compared problems and it turned out a lot of high school problems in Cuba were exactly like the ones back home.
The other group told me about their interesting time in Calabasas. Unlike our trip to Floro Perez, the trip to Calabasas was about 50-60 minutes long. When they got there they were greeted by the members of the Quaker meeting. When they got off the bus, they each got an opened coconut as well as a ripe whole mango which each student learned would soon stain their mouths and clothing yellow. They painted the once blue interior of the church to a bright yellow which permeated their skin and clothing. Matt seemed to be the one most covered, not only in paint, but also in a pattern of yellow hand prints all over his body. They told me that at the beginning of the trip, they were able to see a pig put onto a spit and roasted which they found out would be their lunch. According to Fran who was with the students, the pig weighed about 101 pounds and cost 1,500 pesos (60 dollars) which is a fortune for them. The pig turned out to be so heavy that when they roasted it, it caused the spit to break, but thankfully the pig was spared from the fire.
When they got back to the Holguin church, we all decided to have Ileabeth show us how to salsa. The girls thrived, but it’s sad to say that every boy failed miserably. We soon gave up on Spanish salsaing and turned to modern dance. Lizzy is the only person who can honestly dance everything and tried to teach us to Gas Pedal as well as other interpretive dance movements that turned out to be more scarring than anything. Thankfully dinner approached fast and we all ended the day with an amazing, filling meal that contained shredded beef with peppers and carrots as well as an amazing sweet bread.
Now, it’s 11:30 and everyone is nervous about the service tomorrow. We not only have to do a choreographed dance but sing a Spanish song. I think that everyone is worried about messing up in front of the Quaker meeting goers, but at the same time, everyone is excited.
I just want to say to my mother that I hope she is having an amazing time with Lily in California and not to worry about me. I can honestly say I love it here.
I hope everyone has an amazing Father’s Day,
Tatiana af Geijerstam-Lindberg