Opening Statement



Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Santiago de Cuba Diary 2: First Day


After breakfast Mary Anne and I lounged by the near deserted swimming pool here at the Melia Santiago hotel. Beyond the hotel walls were the sounds of this city of a million going about its daily workweek routines. Inside, all was relatively tranquil, silent. The sun beat down warming the water just so; a light breeze swayed the mighty towering palm tree canopy of the hotel gardens surrounding the pool.

Downtown Santiago de Cuba by the Cathedral
 I sat on a reclining chair in the sun after my swim, reading my ever faithful travel companion, the "Abbreviated Samuel Pepys", a perfect pocket sized dairy. Can open anywhere and read his account of London life in the 1660's’s for a bit. Love his style, the little glimpses of a life and people long past, written by a sharp observer, to himself. Fabulous.

I drifted back to sleep for a bit until my sister woke me up. We were going downtown to meet my long time teacher friend Jose Luis and his wife Marta at their home a short taxi ride away in the city centre, near Cespedes Parque + the cathedral. His once stately home is perhaps a hundred years old, a grand colonial Spanish style casa with stone walls, beautiful inlaid tile, long fallen into disrepair, impossible to keep up since the 1959 revolution. The hurricane has ripped of the stone tile roof in the back. Damaged the masonry.


Jose + Marta's courtyard in the rain

We sat on his lawn chair furniture in the entrance way living room of his home. His family, his music and books; they are all here. Jose is a happy man. It is a simple life. He wishes for more but is content, if not resigned to his lot. He has retired now from teaching Spanish Literature at Oriente University. His wife Marta, still teaches cultural studies there, has a few more years to go.

We sat talking as a heavy torrential rainstorm moved in from over the mountains. The sky cracked open overhead, the ceiling springing leaks everywhere, a result of the hurricane on its old stone tile roof. Buckets and pails took care of that. The rain glistened on the open courtyard tiles, dripped off the leaves of the huge ferns and tropical plants. It was just a very nice place to be, weather not withstanding.
 
We talked late into the afternoon catching up on old times, exchanging school stories. Maryanne and I caught a ride back to the hotel in a beat up old gas guzzling cab amongst the traffic rush for a short siesta before dinner. Tonight I am hosting the first Cuban School Projects meeting of this trip, either here upstairs on the rooftop patio or in the downstairs piano bar if the heat hasn't dried it out yet. The latter might be better in case I need the Internet. All in all it was a relaxing, satisfying very typical Santiago de Cuba day.


After school

PS: The internet is soooooo slow here. I am updating Comments daily for all the posts. Life is happening faster than I can write it down sometimes so my own blog coverage might be intermittent. However I will be back next week. Stay tuned. Also, check Ask Angelo for your unofficial OECTA updates re: Reinstate Richard Brock!]

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