by Priya Tarpley ’18
Our first full day in Holguín was nothing short of eventful. We woke up at around 7, and headed down to desayuno at 8. Our Cuban breakfast consisted of fruit like mango and piña, black coffee, scrambled eggs with chopped peppers, tamarind and mango juice, pound cake, and pizza triangles that were thicker than we’re used to. This morning we also saw two of our George School friends, Roxy and Meli. My junior year, I lived in East on the same floor as Meli, and it was nice to see a familiar face after so long. Today was also our first day of service, and Alberto separated us for different projects. Annarose and I were charged with the task of cleaning the rice by removing the debris and pieces of husk from the bag. Although seemingly menial, I got a chance to practice my Spanish with Maria, Annarose, and Meli. It was a reminder of the preparation it takes to make the food for all of us, and a testament to how filtered our lives are back home.
Later, we exchanged our money for CUCs, colorful bills in 5’s and 3’s, and the 1’s were octagonal coins. After lunch, bellies full of guava paste squares, rice and carne, and chickory bean soup, Roxy lead us through the streets of Holguín. There were so many marketplaces, and we ended up splitting into groups to get snack and check out the Calixto Garcia plaza. Angie, JoceLynn, Ike, Annarose and I ended up at an ice cream shop called La Única, where we sat down and were served as if we were in a restaurant. My scoop of ice cream was less than a CUC. It was a sweet oasis from Holguín’s afternoon heat.
The rain has been a force these past few days, and although it doesn’t start until later in the day, it comes down heavily. So right after getting our ice cream, we hustled back to the church to take breather and watch the thunderstorm pass.
As I write this, Cuba continues to be an interesting experience. From the food, the visual history, and the atmosphere Holguín is a place that I am happy to come home for the next two weeks.