by Julia Carrigan ’20
Today, I awoke to the sound of screaming pigs. Though, others reported they heard a soft and smooth instrumental song play at seven o’clock, I was shaken into consciousness by the morning greetings of our neighbors, the farm animals. We are currently staying at El Semenario Teologíco de Cuba, a school which trains Cubans who want to work in the field of Religion. The campus is beautiful: there are gardens and towers and pigs and chickens. Many other tourists are staying here as well, though we are very lucky to be here to attend the wedding of Roxana and Fernando tomorrow . Roxana did her junior year at GS as apart of the Bienvenidos program.
Of course, during our stay, we were excited to help the Seminary as part of our service too. During the morning, we helped out in the garden, spending all of our time weeding. There was lots and lots of weeding. But we endured the aching of our arms as we tugged at some particularly stubborn grasses, through listening to music, talking to one another, and stumbling through conversation with those who work there. We were also given a delicious snack of bread and pear juice. In particular, I enjoyed the presence of the plethora of snails which occupied the rows and beds. Although, the strongest force that pulled us through three hot hours weeding in the sun was the promise of the beach in the afternoon.
I do not think I can overstate how excited we were for the beach. We love doing service; we love painting; we love playing card games and sharing meals; we love gardening, but these are not the visions that we dream of when we have dreamed of Cuba. We dreamed of the beach. And when we arrived at Varadero Playa, we were not disappointed. The water was turquoise like you see in the postcards, but it was better than the postcards. The group broke out into cries of joy as we walked over the dunes which led to the beach. The sand was hot and soft and got everywhere. It was a glorious three hours. We walked on the shore collecting seashells. We played spike ball and some other throwing games at which I was not adept. Some made a throne out of sand while others dug an unreasonably deep hole. And of course, we swam. We swam and swam and swam. We dived and floated in the clear waves which softly broke on the shore. Much to the relief of the parents reading this blog, we applied lots and lots of sunscreen. It was so, so, so, so good.
We enjoyed ice cream and relaxed for the rest of the day. Grateful for another productive and exciting day in Cuba.