Day three

By Philly Bubaris
January 9, 2012

Frank Posillico / JWW

Today we took a tour of Old Havana with our tour guide and then had the rest of the day to explore and write stories on our own. The tour through Havana was cool but Tatiana kept getting annoyed with us because we were pausing to take photos. So I couldn’t really listen to what she was saying because I was rushing to take pictures and listen at the same time. But we went to a bunch of cool places and, through that, came up with interesting story ideas.

I had a lobster kabob for lunch, which was delicious. After lunch, we went back to the hotel and that is when the adventure began. We all walked down the street to get to the book market that is in one of the four plazas in Old Havana. We were there for about an hour and I made a new friend named Roberto Rodriguez.

After that, we walked to an open-air market with about a dozen people who sell their goods for money. They pay a portion of their earnings to the government for allowing them to have their own businesses. I met a man named Walter who makes little boxes, bookmarks, vases, and whatever else he can make out of wood. He then writes sayings in Spanish on them and sells them to tourists. We interviewed him because he spoke English, though he was still hard to understand. He said he had a brain injury of some kind, so he was mixing up his Spanish and English. I asked him very simple questions and he answered them all with a smile. He said that selling things for money is capitalism, and he doesn’t do this to make money, he does it because he loves it. Very interesting. At the end of the interview, he gave me one of his boxes and read me the quote in Spanish and in English. He hugged me and made me feel very welcome. This was a special experience for me.

I am starting to see now why people like to study abroad. It is weird. I don’t feel like I am in a foreign country. Maybe it hasn’t hit me yet. But, it is just unbelievable to see the way the other half lives. There is no way to really explain Cuba to anyone until you go there. It is not at all what I expected. People are just hanging out in the street, drinking rum, driving around in old cars, and loving life. No one is texting or worrying about anything but that moment. Right now, I still just think this is really cool. It hasn’t changed my life yet. But, I anticipate that it will.