Cuba People to People, Day 8

Although this trip was jammed pack, one more surprise awaited my tour group on the last day. In the morning, we packed our belongings and prepared to leave Hotel Plaza. Before embarking, we enjoyed our last breakfast together, then made our way to the hotel’s porch to wait for our coach to pick us up.
 

As we sat there, we watched the city of Sancti Spiritus come to life. People walking along the street, mothers and fathers with their children, cars driving along the rode; people going about their daily life.

We loaded onto our bus and made our way to the last stop before our flight departed: the Conservatorio Ernesto Lecuona. The mission of the Conservatorio is to “form an elementary and middle level graduate with high ethical, aesthetic and humanistic values, as well as high cultural and artistic knowledge in their general training. The Conservatory also supports General Education at the primary and secondary levels.”

ConservatorioCuba has a rich history of music and art. Most artists in Cuba are trained from a very young age in schools like the Conservatorio. This school, one of the top in the country, covers music and dance. Students from all over Cuba are assessed and then invited to attend. The school, in addition to being a traditional school, acts as a dormitory for students who live far away and wouldn’t be able to make it to school on time everyday from their homes.

While visiting, we were shown some of the academic acumen of a handful of students: a young girl playing the violin, a young boy playing the guitar, a group of girls playing clarinets and bassoons, a young male ballet dancer, a preteen/teenage girl playing the piano, and two young men (one on the piano and the other a flute) playing a piece of music that they composed themselves.

THIS was one of my top moments in Cuba and my fondest memory from my visit.

After leaving the Conservatorio, we made our way to airport. Driving through the countryside, the sky was grey and cloudy as we traversed areas that are depressed; in some areas parts of the highway road dead end into dirt and grass. As we continued to travel the clouds cleared, blue skies peaked out and the sun bathed the land in a refreshing vibrancy.

The ride to the airport was bittersweet. The weather reminded me of the resiliency of the country: although times can be gray and depressed, the people are buoyant and pliable, surviving and overcoming every single obstacle placed in their way. I wanted to spend more time exploring this beautiful country while learning more about its history and its people.

This was a trip of a lifetime for me. Ever since learning about the Bay of Pigs in high school, Cuba was a mysterious out-of-grasp country that I wanted to explore. I am so grateful that I was able to see this multifaceted country before it and the world changed.

To see more photos from Day 8, click here.

— Winter

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