• Language and Culture in the Dominican Republic and Cuba

Museums, Rum, and Cuban Cigars

Thursday

We started our day today in a municipality of Havana called Regla. We went to Museo de Regla (the Museum of Regla) and learned about the history of the municipality, the history and culture of Cuba, and santería, a type of religion of African roots that is practiced here in Cuba. It was really interesting, especially the part about santería and all the things that the people who practice it do.

We briefly stopped by a church not far from the museum after we were finished before boarding a “lancha” (boat) to get back across the bay. It is possible to get to Regla by bus, as we did to get to the museum, but it is faster and more efficient to take a lancha to get across the bay to Old Havana.

Once we were all back across the bay, we got on the bus and hurried to dance class. We did the same steps that we learned yesterday, but we also learned some new steps and had the opportunity to dance with a partner. We all danced with partners in a circle and changed partners after every little routine we did. It was a lot of fun and everyone really enjoyed it. Once you get the basic step figured out, it isn’t very hard to do variations on that step.  

After an hour of dancing salsa with partners, we went to Restaurante Calle Diez for lunch. The restaurant was really nice and though the portions could have been slightly larger, the food was good. Again, however, our meal took forever because there is no sense of time or efficiency with meals here. It took us over two hours to finish lunch, from start to finish.

After spending half our afternoon in a restaurant for lunch, we went to the Museo del Ron (Rum Museum) in Old Havana. We got a tour of the museum and learned exactly how rum is made. The makers of Havana Club rum run this particular rum museum. It was an interesting tour, though very hard to understand. We had to take a tour in English because we didn’t have time to wait 15 minutes for the tour in Spanish. It was so hard to understand our guide’s English that we would have preferred to hear it Spanish. At the conclusion of the tour, we all got to try a little bit of rum.

We went to a little cafe after our tour of the rum museum and heard a presentation about Cuba given by our tour coordinator/guide, William. He gave us a general overview of Cuba and had a huge stack of pictures that he passed around as he was talking. At the end, he talked about Cuban cigars—how they are made, how popular they are, and famous people who have smoked them. We even got a demonstration of how to smoke a Cuban cigar—William lit one up and smoked it. He also let anyone try it that wanted, so several of our group members shared one cigar.

After William’s presentation, we walked back to the bus and returned to the hotel for dinner. Our time here has been great, but very busy. We have so much packed into each day that by the time we get back to the hotel, we are all just ready to crash. It has been a great experience, though, and we are all so thankful for the opportunity to see this country and experience the culture!