Back in 2011, I was lucky enough to be invited to go to Cuba for a fortnight with Cuba Solidarity Campaign and my trade union, Unite. This post is my second in a three part series telling you all about what we got up to.
Day 4 We had a very early wake up call (4am, I think!) because day 4 was the highlight of our trip-the May Day Parade. We went by coach to Revolution Square in Havana, where there was a sealed off seating area especially for us and other foreign visitors, as well as important Cubans (like Raul Castro!) to watch the Parade from. Now, I’ve been to plenty of marches in the UK, but I have NEVER seen anything like the May Day Parade through Havana. Over 1 million Cubans marched in celebration of their country, their culture, their leadership, socialism and the revolution. I’ve only ever seen marches AGAINST something, so this was really new to me.
After the parade was finished we headed back to camp for a lazy afternoon. Sadly, it rained (oh boy, did it rain!!) so we spent some time with all of us in one room chatting-then some of the males in our group went to shower (clothed, thankfully!) in the rain. We also had a bit of an incident with a mahoosive spider, which had to be caught and taken away. Mahoosive as in tarantula, I sat on my bunk and refused to come down until it had gone! In the evening, to celebrate the day, we had a dance group come to camp and perform for us. We drank lots of rum and danced with them (everywhere we went in Cuba there seemed to be a reason to party!) and one of the men tried (and failed) to teach me to salsa. We gave some of the children in the dance group sweets, and had some photos taken with them.
Day 5 We spent all of day 5 at an International Solidarity Conference. This was all the different countries who had come to Cuba speaking about what they were doing and would now do to help-a long day but very interesting and inspiring. I can’t remember what we did in the evening, I think we most likely had an early night as by then we were shattered!
Day 6 Day 6 we packed our bags and prepared to leave camp for a few days (and our Canadian friends forever, as their itinerary was different from our from day 8 onwards, so when we arrived back they would have gone-boo!) We got on our coach and headed to Playa Giron, better known as the Bay of Pigs, where the invasion happened in 1961. On the journey we stopped off at an arts centre where we watched some dance performances in the sunshine (and I got burnt, and fell over. Oops!) We were very excited when we arrived at Playa Giron to find we were staying at a hotel, with small, chalet type rooms. They were the height of luxury compared to camp, with permanently hot showers, no frogs in them, doors that locked, proper, non bunk beds, air conditioning, a fridge, a tv, plug sockets that always worked, a swimming pool, an all inclusive bar, a buffet for meals that served things other than rice and beans, and…a snack bar that did CHIPS! After 5 days on a very limited diet we were in heaven. (Interestingly, we were there at the time America had found and killed Bin Laden, so it was pretty cool to be able to watch the news, too). Oh and did I mention that the resort was right on the very beautiful beach? We were able to spend the afternoon relaxing, so we went for a swim in the pool, lazed about on the beach, and merrily ate chips. Then we hit the hotel’s on site nightclub (which played lots of Cuban music, and then Shakira, Black Eyed Peas and Rihanna. Random combination! Lots of rum was drunk, lots of dancing happened, and it was a great great night.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the second part of this post. Let me know what you thought in the comments, and watch out for part 3 next Tuesday!