We started the day at the Banos del San Juan which is an area where the Cubans are reforesting the jungle. There is a river that runs through with natural pools of water and has water falls. This is where Cubans go to get out of the city and cool off in the summer. We got to hang out with the locals and eat a local lunch-- roast pork and chicken (so good)! Kait and I put on our swim suits and got in. There were fish in the water so I wasn't excited but the water was so fresh so I got in. The government has created a community for tourism, environmental research, fishing and bird watching. Apparently President Carter came and stayed for a week a while back and they were quite honored by the visit.
We visited an artist in Havana who ha turned his neighborhood into a huge tiled mosaic! I started thinking of ways to do something like that at Memorial. I've wanted to cement over the art garden, maybe I can just tile it!!? We had some time to freshen up before dinner and boy, did I need it. My skin hurts from the constant sweating and dampness. A shower is refreshing but still more wetness. I won't be dry until I leave this country. Dinner was amazing once again. Of all the group tours I've been on, the food for this one has been the best but maybe that's because I'm Mexican?
After dinner we went back out to old Havana for the canon ceremony. As the sun sets, the cooks a bit and makes it all a bit more pleasant. Once back at our hotel, we gave gifts to our tour guides and invited the Cuban to Madison to work on her English and to doc Cuban dancing!! She wants to see snow but we've warned her it's not that fun. Her excitement about having the opportunity to come to the states is overwhelming to her and she nearly started crying. Over and over again we have heard how glad Cubans are to have Americans here, certainly to spend our money but many Cubans are just as excited about opportunities to come to the states!
I've learned so much this week, so much more then I expected. Cuba is a paradox. Rich in so much- education, art, pride- yet also so poor. When I asked Jenny what did Cuba need most? She said, just money in the form of higher salaries. This is a country that lends doctors to Venezuela for $8,000 a month and then turns around and pays those doctors $400 a month. If those same doctors stayed in Cuba, they would only earn $40 a month!! This country makes a lot of money for improvements this way. Cuba then trains foreign doctors for next to nothing. It's all so crazy. I'll be following the developments between our two countries for the rest of my life. I'll certainly be back.