7.00am Cold shower.
7.04am In need of another shower.
It’s very hot today, and humid.
Breakfast is the same as the previous two days; crepes, honey and fruit. I tried guava and mango this morning. It tuns out I like mango and don’t like guava. I’ve thought for years I didn’t like mango because I didn’t like things with mango in them, like Um Bongo. Well, Um Bongo and other ‘tropical flavoured’ stuff also have guava in them! Who knew?!?!
We opened our dorm window for the first time this morning. I know that sounds a bit silly after being here for a few days but the window has shutters on it and frosted glass so it didn’t occur to us that there would be anything out there. There was. The street was out there. Busy with people coming and going and some salsa music blaring from a radio in one of the brightly painted houses. I liked life from our window. It was open a lot from then on.
Our day today is filled with visits to two local churches.
1st Havana Reformed Presbyterian Church was our first stop.
We were met by Hector, the minister, who showed us into the sanctuary and explained that they believed that the church had been built to a Scottish design by the missionaries who had come fro Europe. It’s easy to see why they believe that. The building is very similar to post-Reformation churches at home. The design is simple with no iconography.
We were told that we wouldn’t be able to spend much time here because they were in the middle of a week-long holiday club with 86 children. That seemed to be a shame because we were ushered through the kids sessions and I’d have loved to spend some time finding our about their activities and how they organised their outreach to children. But they are busy and I know that if I was them I wouldn’t have time to show me around either. (that probably makes more sense in my head than in a sentence!)
Lunch was….. rice and beans and avocado and other stuff.
In the afternoon we headed of to the suburb of Guanabacoa to visit a little church there with a difference. Well with a few differences actually.
The first difference was the welcome. We were greeted at the door by a line of people who seemed genuinely delighted to meet us.
The second difference was the church. It was small and sparse… but it had a band PA set up.
In the land of salsa who knew that in this quiet little suburb hid a rockin rev who loves all things heavy rock.
After the gig we had a chance to talk to the people about their amazing HIV/aids project which has had to overcome both the barriers of the state and the cultural barriers against two of their biggest HIV positive groups, homosexual men and drug users. Their work is inspiring and made me reflect on how little our local congregations do to meet the needs of their communities.
As we drove home a massive thunderstorm rolled in and just as we arrived back at Luyano the heavens opened. It poured for a couple of hours with the most awesome thunder and lightening crashing around us.
Statues in the Dark and Hanging Out By the Sea
There is a thing called ‘reading by the sea’ which has something to do with university going back and happens by the shore. Obviously books and talks don’t mix well with thunderstorms so ‘reading by the sea’ was cancelled.
Instead we visited the ‘illuminated’ statue of Jesus which towers over Havana… but the lights were off. We did have a great view of Havana at night…
The disappointment of the dark statue was followed quickly by a minor altercation with the police for missing a sign… a sign any of us are yet to see!
We ended up at the Malecon, the sea front in Havana where hundreds of young people were gathered, just hanging out with their friends and dancing to the band playing along the shore somewhere.
It was kind of cool just to sit on the wall and watch the Cuban world go by and great to see that so many young people could gather with very little trouble or sense of threat. There was even a hotdog vendor!
The best thing about tonight was the tempreture. The storm had taken some of the heat away and one of our group was even overheard saying she was cold!
It was soon time to hop on to our retro bus and head home for another night of noisy, uncomfortable sleep… but I’m starting to get kind of used to this place.