Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Cuban Experience 2 of 2

The second day in Vinales was dedicated to relaxation due to the dancing of the night before. Walked up the hill, passed some schools and enjoyed a swimming pool day, with the visit of a few chickens.

On the way down stopped for some food and music. Taking it slow like the locals is some times the best way to blend in. With my skin a bit more tanned now I almost can pass for a real cuban. The way back to Cuba was done with some friends and a driver called Fidel, not the real one though.
 

Arrival to Havana, and cultural night at Restaurant 1830 at the end of the Malecon, where every Thursday and Sunday night there is really good Salsa party with live bands and performances of Salsa schools.

Friday started with a random walk with some friends from the same Casa. The goal was to go with no special direction to discover not so touristic places. And yes we did!



While one  of the girls was taking a picture of a building a thief crosses the road and rips off her purse that was hanging  around her neck.
In this picture you can see on the right-hand side a girl in shorts and white t-shirt running, this is where it starts.

What comes next resembles the best action movies. People start screaming "Pega-lo! Ladron!", and there we are running through old streets of Havana central after a thief. Another guy in red t-shirt joins the pursuit race, and follows the thief inside a building and then up to the rooftop. When I arrive to the internal balcony of the decaying house, I see the guy in red holding a pistol. I decide to go down to the street. On the street police cars arrive, and more police cars pass through. The building is surrounded. An old person offers us some water. The girl cries. The crowd waits for the resolution. 15 minutes later we are told to enter the police car, the thief was caught.
We then went to the medical center, the girl was checked for injuries, and then to the police station to file a report.
Because the girls could only speak english, I become the official translator for the police.

We went back to the 'crime scene' and back to the police station. I was later told that the thief could get 15 to 20 years. In the whole experience what I found most interesting was how the people reacted to the theft, how all start running, screaming to try to catch him, and that at the end the thief was actually caught. I think that in most places of the world people just dont have this sense of community, and although I went through this stressful happening I have never felt unsafe.

That night we had dinner with people from the casa enjoying some Salsa and Rumba rhythms in plaza de la Cathedral. Laughs, Cheers and stories. We then wen to casa de la musica where we met a few police friends enjoying the dance show.

The next day was Salsa intensive, since I had spent most of the day before in the police station I failed a 2 hour class, and since I had a very good teacher which was calm, patient and technically very good I think it was worth my time.

In the last morning I had another salsa class, actually the walk to the school was very beautiful where I could choose to take different routes, such as passing by Hotel Nacional.

Afterwords I strolled around the Callejon de Hamel, a small cultural neighborhood dedicated to arts such as paintings and music where on Sundays there is Rumba in the streets.


It was with sadness that I left Cuba, with a promise to come back and visit the rest of the country.
 But in front of me there is the whole trip still to discover. Hasta (la victoria) siempre.

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