In my previous post I talked about the history of Cuba and permaculture movement if you want to learn more about why the country adopted that type of agriculture and how effectively its working for them, take a look Cuban Experience: History, Permaculture, Farm Life. I also mentioned what it was like working on a farm in Cuba for a couple of days and the connections and experiences that were established while we were there working with local Cuban students. In this post, I’m going talk about the accommodation and living experience in Cuba, the amazing house that we stayed in and the experiences shared living with my fellow Centennial students.
Casa de Cariño
Our housing accommodation had a significant impact on the wonderful experience. We stayed in a house converted to a Centre for Social and Educational Services. This house offers a space for any groups or individuals from all over the globe who have programs and initiatives to work with vulnerable populations including children with mental illness, children with cancer, elderly citizens and many more. The staff were incredibly welcoming and friendly. Every morning I felt as if I was visiting and staying with family back home in my native country. I was always excited coming back home to this place everyday because it was very calming, open and just across the street from the most beautiful white sand and turquoise water beach! The food made at Casa de Cariño was DELICIOUS. One common remark you hear about visiting Cuba is the poorer quality and flavour of the food in comparison to what we’re used to but I can say it is definitely not the case for an experience outside of a resort.
While a large part of this experience is getting to immerse yourself and learn from the local surroundings, it also teaches you about co-habitation and collective living. On this trip, there were 10 of us Centennial students who had only met on a few occasions prior to the trip. Here we found ourselves sharing a room and living spaces together for 10 days. This kind of experience teaches you a lot about yourself. I am truly grateful for the group of students as well as the staff that were on this trip with me. Every night a pair of us conducted a reflection circle that we were allowed to organize and lead ourselves. What emerged from these reflections was the most valuable. We learned a lot about each other during these sessions. People got to reflect on their day and experiences but they also took the time to share their feelings and emotions that were coming to the surface on this trip. The respect for my colleagues grew more and more every day. We had to learn to resolve conflict in a fair and respectful manner which would be a valuable skill to have while living with people you’re not familiar with and being in each others space for essentially twenty-four hours a day for ten days. The encouragement, feedback and respect that I received from my colleagues on this trip, just from our day to day conversations and discussions during our nightly reflections, also allowed me to see myself in a new light. To get positive and genuine feedback from people who have been spending their time with you really touched my heart and elevated the way that I see myself which is a growth I’m very proud of, all thanks to this wonderful experience. As Esteban Grau (another amazing individual we met who works tirelessly all over Cuba to preserve and conserve the natural elements) would say:
“in order to change the world we must start within”