23 January 2019

Spanish study trip to Cuba

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The Spanish study trip to Cuba was an experience I will never forget. We visited three very different parts of Cuba: Havana, Trinidad and Viñales. In Havana, the capital city of Cuba, we enjoyed a walking tour through the city including a visit to the fortress known as El Morro and the San Carlos castle. We also spent an afternoon volunteering in an outdoor sport complex where we helped create a new basketball court and made friends with the local children: teaching them songs and dances…’flossing’ was a particular favourite!

On our journey to Trinidad, in the centre of the island, we visited the Ché Mausoleum and the Tren Blindado and, with the help of our tour guide Cinthia, we learnt all about the Cuban Revolution: the six-year armed revolt fought by Fidel Castro and Ché Guevara against the authoritarian government led by President Fulgencio Batista. It was interesting to understand the Cuban perspective on their history as it has influenced the way they live. In Trinidad, I celebrated my birthday and had an unforgettable day: a guided hike in the Topes de Collantes national park, a swim in the freshwater natural pool of one of the huge waterfalls and the afternoon was spent at the Playa Ancón, a beautiful Caribbean beach where we relaxed as the sun was setting. That evening we had our own private rooftop dinner with a band who played ‘Cumpleaños Feliz’ as I was surprised with a cake!

Our journey to Viñales, in the west of Cuba, was just as exciting as the previous day: we took small rowing boats out on a huge lake and watched hundreds of flamingos. Viñales was so different to our previous two destinations. Whilst Havana is a busy city, and Trinidad a colourful town, Viñales is a beautiful old town encircled by huge mountains. Here, we spent the day on a gorgeous Caribbean beach and had a morning hike in the valley including a visit to a tobacco farm. Throughout the trip we had Spanish lessons where we learnt about Cuban culture, played games and had the opportunity to ask the teachers about their experiences living in Cuba: a country so different to what we’re used to. 

Despite our somewhat unexpected delay due to the Gatwick drone incident, the teachers kept our spirits high and the extra day we spent in Havana waiting for our flight featured plenty of films, food and even a swim in the hotel pool! 

We cannot thank Mr Oberti Oddi, Mrs Duran-Oreiro and Mr Capelo enough. From dancing with us in our salsa lesson to playing football on the beach, the teachers made the trip so enjoyable and exciting. I am hoping to return to Latin America in my year abroad at university and will bring with me all my memories of an unforgettable trip to Cuba.

Hannah Saint, U6

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