Sunday in Cuba

Today is father’s day and to celebrate we had a church service; “el dia de los padres.” Two days ago, on Friday we rehearsed an interpretive dance for three hours which was to be performed during the church service in front of their entire community. While rehearsing I had no idea what  the outcome was going to be of that exhausting and confusing activity. The whole time I thought that we were just being taught an interpretive dance for fun and I didn’t realize it was a performance until Saturday night.

On Sunday morning we all got dressed up in our fancy church clothes and sat down for breakfast. An hour or so later we entered the church service area, which is about a 7 second walk from where we sleep. Walking in, we all knew that this service would be a bit over two hours but we were completely ignorant to just how difficult it was. First of all, the Cuban heat is something like no other and the three fans weren’t nearly enough. It’s difficult enough to stay focused in church when all you notice is the sweat pooling on your face, but in addition, of course, everything is in Spanish. I had a hard time keeping up with what was being said besides knowing that the general theme was Father’s Day. However I did catch when a whole section was dedicated to giving thanks to Fran. They adore Fran here. He’s a celebrity. He even got his own bedroom. Many people gave speeches for why they were thankful for Fran, they sang a song and gave him a very large card. There were tons of tears and smiles.

Finally we got to perform our dance and that went a lot smoother than I think any of us anticipated. We also sang a song which Illeabeth lead in a duet. Her voice is beautiful. Then Emily blew everyone away with her angelic voice singing Amazing Grace. She sounds like one of those Disney princesses singing to chipmunks and birds. After that we still had 45 more minutes of sweating and Spanish sermons. I still enjoyed the church dynamic and people although I was a little delirious.

The next activity we did, which we were all looking forward to, was going to a beautiful beach resort called Guardalavaca. This beach was all you expect from a tropical beach but better. When we pulled up after the hour long bus ride we were surrounded by endless clear blue water, white sand, colorful buildings, and thatched umbrellas lining the sand. We went to a beach side restaurant and were served immediately. We wasted no time afterwards and all ran towards the water. I won’t name names, but a few people face planted and tumbled into the water as they bounded towards it; they should have gone for a romantic slow jog instead of a full sprint. The whole group played a game of passing the softball, started by Tom. Eventually it got really competitive as Alex, Matt, Fritz, and the petite Natasja fought for that yellow ball in what resembled starving animals jumping at one scrap. Afterwards we went shopping in a little market with handmade leather goods and jewelry. I got lost and freaked out for a while but I’m here now so it’s okay. When I finally made it back, everyone was relaxing on the beach in different groups. I joined Lydia, Matt, Monica Emily, and Fritz and we all got to know each other. We took a couple group photos and then went to get ice cream (that was the second ice cream of the day after lunch). They have these huge tubs of Nestle ice cream which is delicious and surprisingly healthier than our ice cream.

Next we walked to go find our bus and admired the beautiful sunset. Our bus zoomed past us and didn’t return for a half an hour which was weird. When we got on the bus people either rested or talked becuase they were so sandy and salty that resting wasn’t tolerable. We had dinner when we returned at around nine with the third ice cream of the day. This was a great day and I hope it was just as good for all of our fathers back at home without us.

-Chinue Ellis

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Filed under Faculty and Staff, Service, Students

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