Stepping outside in Havana for the first time was almost surreal. I had been waiting for this trip for most of 2017 and it did not seem like it was actually happening. There were so many things I wanted to see and I couldn’t wait for the film festival. When we got out at Revolution Square is when it started to really kick in that we were in Cuba. The outlines of Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos are images I had seen many times before, but only in books. Being able to stand in front of them and take pictures was something else.
At lunch, I realized how amazing the food was going to be for the week. The first drink we got was spectacular, not to mention the swordfish. Starting at that lunch, I made it a personal goal for the week to push myself a bit more than I normally do with trying new foods. As soon as I saw the pineapple, I was looking forward to eating a lot of fruit, since I’m not that good about it usually. I also started to feel like I was getting to know my classmates more during lunch. It was pretty much the first time we all got to sit down and talk outside of the classroom, and it was awesome find out that we all got along really well.
Getting to the hotel was nice for so many reasons. First of all, the building was spectacular from the outside and I was very curious since we had to change hotels last minute. I was also beyond ready to lay down for a while. I didn’t sleep Thursday night before going to the airport at four in the morning and both flights were short, so I was starting to feel very tired. Our view from the room was beautiful and the beds were so comfortable. I got to take a nap for a while and recharge, which made the evening even better.
Dinner was just as good as lunch. I had bread, some kind of squash soup, salad, red snapper with rice, and flan for dessert. Red snapper was another kind of fish I had never had before, but I really enjoyed it. After flan with lunch and dinner, I was also beginning to see a dessert trend. The juice continued to be delicious. We had papaya juice at lunch and guava juice with dinner. I am not a big fan of either of those fruits, but the juices were amazing and very refreshing with the fish.
Driving through Havana throughout the day was a lot of fun because it was almost like a sneak preview at the rest of our week. From the drive by alone, I could tell how spectacular the Christopher Columbus Cemetery was and I couldn’t wait until we visited. I also thought it was interesting to drive by the zoo. I didn’t see a sign at first and then there were zebras and ostriches right outside my window. The first day definitely set the tone for the rest of the trip.