Goodbye Valencia, Hello Cuba!

It’s been a long time since I haven’t written anything here and I can only hope you people have not forgotten about this little blog of mine.
People, you should be right here right now. I’m sitting in the Botanic Garden of Valencia at the moment and found myself one of the most beautiful places in Valencia: Palmtrees, Fountains, Cactuses, Cats lying in the sun, old people walking about, not a single car… it seems like heaven on earth!
I came to this very peaceful place to get some rest, some time for myself and some concentration for letter writing. All of those are tinges I have not been missing but lacking a little recently.
Well, here I am, writing what is to be the last entry here in Valencia. It’s been a wild ride, full of many beautiful experiences and very, very little bad experiences (I couldn’t even name one that was really, really bad!)
Well, it’s August here in Valencia. What can I say… As you can imagine, it’s pretty frisking hot. I haven’t seen a day with lower temperatures than 33 degrees for about 2 months, during the nighttime temperatures slightly decrease to a decent 27 degrees but already at 10 o’clock in the morning the sun starts to burn again and you’re at thirtysomething again. Top peek so far: 36 degrees in Plaza del Ayuntamiento but I’m sure we’ve already crossed the 40 degrees a couple of times. I just might not have seen a thermometer indicating it.
So, yes, it is hot, it is summer and it’s semester holidays. Oh, and I’m in Spain 🙂 There is not very much more I could ask for, that’s for sure! The last months have been rocking with parties, girls, beaches, festivals, dinners with friends, picnics and lots of fun.
I have had the time of my life and can definitely say that this entire idea of coming to valencia and starting to study in a at the time to me completely unknown language was one great idea!! I have had no problems learning Spanish and speak the language to a level that mother-tongues now usually mistake me with a very good spanish speaking italian and can’t believe I’m from germany. My marks at university have been all pretty good, I’ve learned to know tons of great people who will hopefully remain friends for a lifetime and maybe even become dearer friends throughout the years. Shortly: things have worked out just great. BIG SUCCES! I’m really happy and grateful!
Well, people, there is big news!
I’ll be going to Cuba for about two months and will then be backpacking the Caribbeans!!!!
As you all know my master in cultural management here in Valencia consists of two years. While during the first year we have had plenty of theoretical lessons at university (teaching us about everything one must know about cultural management and all of it’s economical, juridical and sociological aspects) the second year “only” consist in writing our master thesis and doing a practical work experience in an organization connected to cultural management.
Our master offered us a pretty large list of different organizations, mostly CEOs, NGOs and theatre and concert agencies, which had already taken students from the master’s degree in previous years. The idea is to pick one of these places and to go work for them. But, given the fact that all of them were in Valencia and that we were also given the information that we could look for an internship on our own, I began looking into different places in middle- and southern america. My wanderlust just wouldn’t let me stay yet another year in Valencia – there are so many countries I want to see and now that I speak pretty good Spanish I just didn’t see a point in staying in Valencia (and not even Spain!) one more year!
So, my idea was to go see middle- or South America. Maybe Mexiko, maybe Cuba, maybe Argentina, maybe Columbia, whatever… Cuba, nonetheless, had always been of a very special interest to me. Not only because of it’s evident political singularity but also because of it’s unique cultural heritage (music, dance) and the very high standard cultural politics have been put up until nowadays. Also, I believe, it might be just the perfect point of time to go see Cuba, now that Fidel’s younger brother has taken over the power. Cuba will most definitely change a lot within the next years and now seemed to be the time to go see it. See how Cuba is, see how Cultural Politics work in a socialist country, see how and into what this amazing country is transforming!!
One day, after classes, I commented my ambitions to Gil Hernandez, a dear professor of sociology and friend of mine at the University of Valencia. Turns out that an ex-alumno of Gil, Yisel, is working in Cuba in an institution called “Instituto Cubano de Investigación Cultural Juan Marinello”. I contacted Yisel and was lucky enough to catch her during a period of research she was doing at the university of Valencia. We sat together over a couple of cafés and bocadillos (like sandwiches) and Yisel promised me to check with her bosses as soon as she would get back to Cuba. Two weeks later I received an email from Yisel, confirming that her boss found my CV really interesting and that I could start an internship in the institute whenever I want. They would not be able to pay me any money but, considering the fact that a fully educated doctor in cuba only makes about 150 dollars a months it would not have an opportunity to get rich anyway…
This was about three months ago. Ever since I have been in contact with Cuba, getting paperwork done. LOTS of it. You guys cannot imagine how difficult it is to get into cuba with the ambition not just to spend a holiday there but to WORK there. First of all I had to apply for a Passport because my old one had run quite some time ago. Not having my official residence neither in Germany, nor in Italy nor in France nor in Spain that was already quite a difficult thing to achieve and QUITE expensive. Only that precedure already cost me three weeks. Then there were the working permit for Cuba, Visa, Papers from my university, Papers from the Institute, descriptions of what I will be doing there, double checks on everything and so forth… ridiculously much bureaucracy and both sides – Spain and Cuba! Things got complicated even the more because the institute I will be working for is a very well known institution which belongs to the ministry of culture and is therefore highly political. 
Anyways, today I booked my flight to Cuba – I will be leaving Valencia next Thursday to pick up my Passport from Barcelona, then go to Germany to spend some quality time with my family and friends and September 12 I have my flight to La Habana, Cuba.
As I already mentioned, the Institute I will be working for is called “Instituto Cubano de Investigación Cultural Juan Marinello”. Situated in the heart of the old town of La Habana it not only is located in the historically and architectonically most charming part of Cuba’s impressively surreal capital but also a very fine academic place. I cannot really tell you a lot about it because there is little information available on the internet (Cuba….) but everyone I have asked about the Institute told me that it’s good quality scientific research and serious.
So, that’s it. I will be spending about two months in Cuba, La Habana, working in this institute. My main occupation will be free scientific research and writing my thesis but I will also participate in cultural protects, research protects, conferences and the organization of events. More I do not know, it’s all gonna be a little surprisy 🙂
After having complied my 150 hours contract in La Habana I will pack my backpack and travel through Cuba for about two weeks.
What comes after that still is a little uncertain but the general plan is:
September 12: Arrival in Cuba
November 1: Starting my 2-week backpacking trip around Cuba.
November 15: Departure from Cuba by boat to Costa Rica. Or Jamaica. Or the Caimans. Or Panama. I don’t know yet…
Then I have about 1,5 months to backpack the carribeans
December 24th-January 1st: Invitated to the home of a dear friend of mine, Camila. Her parents have a house in the northern, carribean part of Colombia where go every year to spend Christmas and New Year’s Eve. This year there’s gonna be some german company 🙂
January 1st till the end of February: second part of my backpacking trip, direction south: Peru.
That’s the plan. Let’s see how things develop throughout the next few weeks, I will keep you updated and create another blog for this trip. Promised!
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