[ 29 July 2016 - Friday ]
I’ve made it through the first week! Today: switch to Prado Colonial casa, think more about exhibition and what I need to specifically look for, visit Plaza de Armas, write blog post, edit other posts.
This morning I relocated from the Hostal del Ángel to the Casa Prado Colonial, they are only a few blocks from one another and owned by the same family. I’ll be staying here for tonight and tomorrow night and then it’s on to the Hostal la Gárgola, which I am looking forward to because it’s set up more like a hostel than a room in a private house. My room last night was extremely comfortable despite me sleeping like shit. I certainly don’t want to jinx it but having a hotel reservation confirmation is a "first world" reassurance I didn't even realize that I’ve gotten used to. I was so worried, and continue to be worried, that I’ll show up at my casa particular and they’ll look at me like, “You thought you had a room here tonight?” Cue PANIC!
When I left the Hostal del Angel and made my way a few blocks over to the other house, Prado Colonial, there wasn’t electricity at either place and my room wasn’t ready until 1:00 so I left my bags and went walking to the Plaza de Armas. There were sellers surrounding the plaza with old books, posters, and trinkets for sale, also a female dog getting "gang-banged" by five male dogs, a handful of men were watching and laughing. The poor thing was screeching like Ralphie does and it was all I could do not to risk being bit to shoo them all away.
One seller in the Plaza de Armas was showing me the movie posters that she had for sale which were pretty cool although a lot of the other sellers had the same ones. I did like though that they were made through printmaking techniques. What I ended up buying for 4 CUCs was an old booklet that they used to keep track of your food rations. I also, since finding 5 CUPs on the ground (why do I always find money on the ground?!) bought a newspaper/editorial with the Obamas on the front and a number of other US-Cuban comics for 2 CUPs. After lunch I walked around some more eventually finding myself along the waterfront (with a view of the fireball! aka oil refinery) and then in the neighborhood south of Havana Vieja. I went into the gardens of the Basilica Manor de San Francsco de Assisi, which were really pleasant and nice…or I guess after looking at a map, it was actually the Jardin Teresa de Calcuta.
I also walked up Obispo again, which is incredibly crowded and by that time it was 3:00 and I was sweaty and ready to chill. Now back at my hotel and a mini-nap later, I’m starting to feel hungry and wishing that I didn’t have to leave the house for every meal (including water) besides breakfast. I was also wondering when the cravings would hit for foods like sushi...now I know. (:
I just got back from dinner which was nice mostly because I stumbled upon the courtyard of Hotel Sevilla. At first it was quiet and peaceful and the waiter told me my Spanish was good. Ha! Hahahaha. Then a band started playing! It was so endearing, they were all wearing the same striped polo shirt. I’m not sure why but the small things like that always get me. On my way back to the casa particular I stopped and sat along the Prado for a little while when a Cuban woman came up to me to talk. Asking where I was from, how long I was staying, where my novio was. I told her Estatos Undios, tres semana pero two semana mas, y tengo un esposo. She, I’m fairly positive, was telling me that I was very pretty and that I should find someone handsome while in Cuba to give me massages. She then called over this young guy from her group of friends across the Prado. He was cute but was probably 21 and kept giving me the pouty "Heeeeey" look complete with shoulder shrug of "Why not me?" Crazy I know, but I didn't come to Cuba for the massages.... The three of us talked for a while longer but then it began to feel that instead of laughing with me that I was being laughed at. I'm sure it was harmless teasing but I was starting to feel awkward, so I made a graceful exit and departed to my casa particular. Making my night, the resident cat decided I was alright and followed me to my room, meowing and purring the whole way. I’m sure by allowing him…her…to hang out on my bed that I’m teaching bad habits, future guests might not welcome nosy fur friends. But I can’t help it, I miss my animal companions! Or any companion for that matter...wah.
My days typically follow this routine: wake up and eat breakfast, then figure out a general plan of what to see and do, then spend the next 4 to 5 hours walking and taking photographs, when I get back to my room in the late afternoon the first thing I do is shower (because I'm drenched in sweat), then I usually read, download photos, and write until 6:30 or 7:00 when I’ll wander out again to find dinner. Dinner never lasts as long as I would like since it’s just me so I’m usually back around 8 or 9, them more reading (or when I was at Eddy’s watching one hour of American tv!!) and then bed.
To be perfectly honest I’ve felt more isolated here than anywhere ever before (and I can still remember those lonely days as a new college undergraduate...haha). For someone who can spend loads of time occupying myself alone at home, being in my own here 24/7 has me counting down the days until I’m back in the States. (As shameful as that makes me feel to admit). Being alone, not being able to speak Spanish fluently, and not having the internet has been a devastating trifecta. I really thought “being alone” would be the last thing to bother me and I really think that if I were able to connect to the dang internet for more than 5 minutes from somewhere other than the street corner that I’d feel 99% differently. We always talk about how much time we waste on the internet and how we don’t interact with one another anymore face to face but not having that ability to connect in any fashion with people is really hard. It’s ridiculous but I kept imagining the people who sailed to the “new world” and how they couldn’t talk to anyone from home for months and then only via letters, if they could do it so can I! Totally not the same scale of "misery" but hey, it's where my thoughts went.
My room reeks of paint thinner or something. Other than sleep with the door open, which would be weird because it opens up to the dining room, which is attached to the kitchen, I don’t know what to do about it. I’m afraid I’m going to pass out in my sleep, there’s no circulation in these rooms. Martin would probably, himself half-asleep already, tell that I’m being crazy and that it’s nothing to worry about. el olor / el disolvente
(P.S. I survived the night. Obviously.)