SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
March 10, 2016
¡Bienvenidos a Cuba!
Alongside at Santiago de Cuba
Hola from Santiago de Cuba! How many people can say a pod of dolphins brought our sailboat into Cuba?! When exploring, we discovered that we are definitely the only Americans here, which makes it feel like a truly unique experience. The welcoming attitude of Cubans in Santiago for American’s is more than I expected. Once Cubans found out we are from Los Estados Unidos, they would say “We love Americans! We love Obama!” Also, we learned that President Obama is making a visit here in two weeks--just missed him!
The people are very welcoming. When walking around and exploring the city, all of the outside structures are somewhat rundown despite the time and effort put into the original construction, but when looking inside places, they were beautiful and thriving. You never know what you could be walking past because of uniformity of the structures on every downtown block near the port. There are some amazing buildings that we entered today on our second field trip. We went to three art studios full of ceramics, paintings, and sculptures. The third workshop was the temporary home of a Canadian artist, originally from England, here on a grant to present and create work. He told us also about his sailboat he has in Canada, and he was delighted to know we were sailors ourselves. It turned out he also is a celestial navigation teacher. What an amazing connection to make! The ocean and its forces were present in a lot of his works, relating to storms, fire, and dancing, all of which he described to us.
The last stop on our field trip today was the rented house in the countryside where Fidel Castro’s secretive planning for the uprising from against Batista’s government took place. It is amazing to see evidence of all of this history that we learned so little about in standard history books and from our grandparents’ generation. What little we did learn shaped my views when approaching Cuba a few nights back with Guantanamo Bay lit in the distance, Cuba felt like a mysterious, almost forbidden place. The turn in my perspective regarding the people of Cuba was, I think, a turn for the better. We are so lucky to be able to see and appreciate this place before a wave of tourism ruins the authenticity of Santiago de Cuba.
The last thing that has stood out to me the most is the Heladerías. We walked into a park signed Heladería. We were expected a typical US ice cream shop and it turned out to be a park centered on eating ice cream. Elliot, Tim, Melissa, Katie, and I sat down and ordered one grande helado, which said it included seven scoops. The waitress looked at us like we were crazy, so we ordered two. When they brought them, immediately we asked for three more! (The scoops were small) The ice cream was the best I have ever tasted.
We observed families ordering three of what we had! Later we learned from Leah that hanging out for hours eating ice cream is a cultural pastime. Also, eating three bowls is very normal. The total bill was 44 pesos, which is about two American dollars!
Overall, the Cramer has been carrying us strong through the Caribbean waters and has allowed us to experience so much! Living in our own world on the Cramer, I have enjoyed being disconnected from the outside world; but, to my friends and family, I miss and love you! I’ll see you in two weeks! I cannot wait to tell you all about my adventures!