1. Arriving at the Santa Clara Airport and being greeted by Gioel’s completely warm and genuine smile. Anyone who knows Gioel will know her smile is infectious and immediately relieves any nerves you may have. After walking past huge charter buses with lines full of tourists to get inside, we found our ride to our hostel, a car from the 1950s. Ahhhh Cuba, I love you already.
2. Walking from our hostel outside of Santa Clara to go into town on a dirt road, Gioel and I noticed kids playing in the streets laughing and running around with a balloon. Gioel turned to me and said, “Is that a blown up condom?” I guess you could say necessity is the mother of invention.
3. The plaza in Santa Clara was magical on Valentines Day. That evening the square was packed full of men and women all dressed up, dancing to Latin music.
4. Walking through the fields past the farm we tried to make our way to a near by river to escape the heat of the afternoon. We really had no idea where we were going so we asked a local farmer for directions. His directions consisted mostly of “go straight”, “then turn”, “then go straight”, “then turn around”, “do you understand?”…. “No”. We were not sure if we would ever find the river but it didn’t seem to matter to anyone, because the lovely old farmer handed each of us guava.
5. Roberto, a young participant in the workshop and Gioel were discussing why it is much easier to be a vegetarian in Canada than it is in Cuba. Gioel explained that it was easier because Canada imports so many goods. She thought it was crazy that an orange could travel all the way from Morocco and end up on her plate. Roberto just laughed and said, “No what’s crazy is that oranges can travel and we can’t.”
6. Sitting in the back of a truck with all the participants of the workshop singing to Cuban songs. Feeling free with the wind blowing, the sun shining and everyone there, in the moment.
7. I was talking to Noel (one of the members of the theatre group) about bears in Canada. I was explaining that my dad had always told me to keep a little saying in my head if I ever encountered a bear in the woods: “Brown lie down, black fight back.” Noel then asked me what Canadians did to fight back? I stood there puzzled for a moment and said “ohh well we have bear spray”. As soon as the sentence came out of my mouth we both started laughing. For me I realized how capitalist this was and for him, I think he just could not believe that “spray” could ward off a bear.
8. Experiencing the power of play back theatre is something everyone should see. I still cannot believe the raw emotion play back theatre can capture. I have a new respect for play back theatre as a tool for development to facilitate stories, teach lessons, and start conversations.
9. In the middle of a workshop a green lizard like creature (bigger than usual) fell from the roof of the theatre to the middle of our circle. Immediately we all jumped up and screamed.
10. On Friday we spent the afternoon at El Nicho, a must see attraction in Cienfuegos. The waterfalls were magnificent and definitely a hidden treasure of Cuba. Although the water was cold by Cuban standards, for me the crystal water in the natural pools was simply heaven.
Hasta luego Cuba!
– Claire Macleod