Friday, 15 February 2013


Hi guys!

RIGHT FIRST OFF, I gotta share something with you that literally blew my mind on Saturday, and I have been sharing with as many people as possible since>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Coconuts in Cuba do not look like coconuts you may find at the Wolverhampton Girls' High School Summer Gala Coconut Shy, because, APPARENTLY (!), when they grow on trees coconuts are HUGE and GREEN!!!!!! This is one of the many local-food-related facts I have learnt from my new Bajan roommate, who has been a true font of mind-blowing knowledge. There are so many different fruit and vegetables here! Did you know that Cuba has THREE TYPES of banana!?!? It's MADNESS!

Okay, now I've got that off my chest, let me take you back to my first weekend in Cuba and my first excursion with the Calle B Collective.

IMAGINE THE SCENE: It is Sunday evening, three days after my arrival. I am sitting in the back seat of a classic American car that was built in 1948, along with my NINE(!) new friends and the driver. The car has  been fitted with a 1970's 4-piston engine from a Czechoslovakian lorry, and seems to be held together with a handful of rusty nails in unexpected places and a LOT of hope. According to the driver - who we know only as 'The Cat' - this engine lets the car reach 120mph. Unfortunately, there's no way of verifying this because the speedometer is broken. The Cat claims he can make the three hour trip from Vinales to Habana last only 2 hours and a half, which he manages with ease, even including a small detour to a local village for petrol (it's difficult to find petrol in Havana, but luckily The Cat's friend has some in his basement, which has to be siphoned into the car with a small plastic pipe). The Cat hurtles down the motorway to Havana, and stops for nothing and no one. At one point one of my NEW NINE FRIENDS(!!!) turns to the four of us sitting  in the back. "The Cat says its about to get a bit bumpy," he says. The Cat then continues to go full pelt over a series of speed bumps, creating MUCH comotion in the back seat and a lot of heads bumping against the cieling of the car. "I've been doing this for 21 years and I've never had an accident!" he says proudly, swerving between a lone cyclist and a coachful of tourists. It was like being in the Night Bus from Harry Potter - TERRIFYING AND GREAT !!!!!

My Nine New Friends (recently increased to Eleven New Friends) are all other students from Manchester or Nottingham who are doing their semester here, and live in the same street as me (and, in one paticular case, in the same room as me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). We went to Vinales for a road trip, which is situated in the mountains and is southwest from Havana. Cuba is SO beautiful! It's really surprisingly green, and there are palm trees everywhere (WITH HUGE GREEN COCONUTS!!!). Yesterday we went to the beach near Havana, which was just a complete tropical paradise. The water is blue, but also turquoise: it looks like a prom dress. We sunbathed and paddled and some of my Eleven New Friends can even swim, so they went swimming. At the end of the afternoon I did cause a bit of controversy as I dropped a pringle in the sand. Half the group were adament that I shouldn't eat it because it was too sandy, the other half were horrified at the thought of wasting a pringle and strongly encouraged me to brush it off and stuff it in (my mouth). I'll let you make up your own minds about with half I sided with...(clue: I can still feel the sand in my teeth.)

I know that regular fans will be desperate to find out how my gorgeous, pasty skin is coping in the AGGRESSIVE sunshine. Well, mum, you will be very pleased to hear that I have been putting on the factor 30 RELIGIOUSLY, which due to its greasy consistency has left me looking really shiny and GREAT! (<<<<sarcasm, the shininess ain't so great). We have been spending quite a lot of time outside in the sunshine, and my skin has not changed colour yet, but my arm hairs have been bleached so I assume a golden glow is the next step.

Although classes were meant to start on the 1st Feb, we didn't have our first one until this morning, which began at 8AM :'( It is meant to last until 11.30 but today we got to finish early and go home at 10.15!!! This was EXTREMELY fortunate, as I was about to die from drowning in the huge pool of sweat streaming off my body onto the hard, plastic chair I was forced to sit on. When I finally stood up it made that great THWARPOP sound of clammy thighs peeling of plastic. I am looking forward to classes starting in earnst on Tuesday.

Lots of love from the Caribbean, your fave expat, S-COLL xxx

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