Director’s Report 2
This last month has been a very busy one for Lizzie, Boyd, Pavia, Brad, Shelby, Boyd, and Professor Schnepf. Classes are in full swing and papers and tests are now the order of the day. The students are also dedicating a considerable amount of time to their semester projects that range from the role of Church in a socialist society to the inner workings of the ‘Oficina del Historiador.’
We have also been travelling a great deal in both the city and the provinces. We have seen the famous ‘cañonazo’ at the fort, the world class tobacco factory, the rum museum, the botanical gardens and the zoo, and José Martí’s birthplace all within the boundaries of La Habana. We have also made longer trips to Santa Clara, Varadero, and Batabanó. This last trip was somewhat different. Professor Schnepf had never been there before but we all agreed that it would be worthwhile to go exploring. We left early Saturday morning driving straight south. We found new different surroundings during the hour drive. This is rice country and because there is more rain there the countryside is lusher and perhaps a bit more tropical. When we hit the beach we immediately started to explore the mangrove and before long we were hiking through thick brush along the paths used by fishermen and charcoal workers. The old fisherman we met tucked in among some trees and bushes on the beach showed us his catch and shared some stories with us. Our ‘unofficial’ guide led us to several sites where the ancient tradition of charcoal making was carried out. We learned that the giant ‘jicoteas,’ or tortoises come out during the rainy season and are hunted by the locals for their meat. After an hour and a half work through this dense area we headed back to the pueblo for a delicious meal of lobster, rice, beans, and salad lunch at the home of our guide, Jaime. Since lobster is one the main products of this region the lunch was actually quite economical. On the way home we stopped by to see where the ferry that carries passengers to the Isla de la Juventud departs.
During the month of April we have several other exciting trips on the agenda. On April 8, we head to Playa Girón to learn see firsthand the site where the Bay of Pigs invasion took place. And on April 22 we will take a long trip to Trinidad, the beautiful colonial city to the Southeast of La Habana.