Wednesday, April 29, 2015

I went to Cuba?

 The semester is nearing the end and things are getting pretty busy here in Nicaragua. I've been living in the city of Matagalpa for the past two-to-three weeks, and I have about a week left here. I've been working hard on a my research project about the life of street art and graffiti in the country. I'll be making a short film to present my work that I can hopefully share with you all in the future. Since that is still a work in progress, I would like to take you guys back to March for an early #ThrowbackThursday.

I could never be disappointed with the view of the street from my house. 

I had the privilege to travel to Cuba for an educational excursion, and I can't express enough how amazing it was. It felt so good to be back on an island again, and a beautiful, colorful island at that. The people were always kind and interesting, always wanting to talk and share with you. The architecture was a Spanish-Colonial style, adding so much character to the city and your surroundings. The cars were old-school cruisers, wagons, and muscle cars - and I have a soft spot for older cars so sometimes I felt like I was melting from the joyous visual beauty of them. Sometimes, it was hard to think about why things in Cuba were so beautiful (to us) and rustic. The reality was that things were old, and often broken, because there was no money to fix things, and the blockade prevented the country from importing a lot of the new things they need or want, like new cars.

We were fortunate enough to hear from many guest speakers about the history, educational systems, economy, current world-standing, and future of Cuba. 
Did you know that Cuba has two monetary systems? Well, they do. That was an interesting subject to hear and talk about. Cuba is working to put the two together and once again, have only one form of payment. Though times can be hard for a lot of people in Cuba, I saw so much giving between the people. Over and over again, the citizens were helping each other with odd tasks or favors. Sharing cars is common, as is trading. We witnessed the trading of a refrigerator and a couch between two houses. When you can't afford what you need (or it isn't being imported), you work with your neighbors, and that was a pretty beautiful thing to see. 

We were lucky enough to make friends and learn from this band of amazingly talented people, "Los Francos."
Student work from the Institute. 
The most thriving and vibrant part of Cuba had to be the culture of the arts. Music, dance, sculpture, painting, printing, photography, cinematography, design, and so many other things were thriving arts in Cuba - it was truly a beautiful thing to see. The young generations were really good at embracing their artistic and creative talents as a means to express themselves, their thoughts, and their lives as Cubans.

It was such a special time for us to be in Cuba - when normalizing relations between them and the United States is such a hot topic, and hopefully continues to be. It will be exciting to see how the future plays out for Cuba and their people.
Hasta luego, Cuba.

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