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Summertime the Cuban way

Summertime the Cuban way

by Ricardo Alberto Pérez

Summer is a hot, magical time when families tend to get together and share experiences, chat and catch up with everybody. s enjoy the season in a great variety of ways. Our temperaments and our climate are the principal ingredients.

The island of Cuba is lucky to have a huge number of wonderful natural sites. Some of them are virginal, others are very popular, but they all become scenarios for relaxing and taking part in healthy leisure activities. Each of our provinces has its own special charm. There are those famous for their beaches, others for mountainous landscapes, and others for their rivers and waterfalls. The most fortunate of them manage to bring together all of these attractions into one single site.

Many people like to get out of their homes to spend a few days in these little paradises. Others prefer to take daytrips to the beach, returning home just before nightfall so as not to miss out on any of the city’s many nighttime activities.

The months of July and August are famous for providing an intense cultural panorama all over the Island, especially in Havana. Dance and theater companies have prepared very attractive shows, usually including a series of premieres and also reruns of some of their more popular plays and shows. Concerts abound and they cover the full range of musical genres—something for every taste, age bracket and social group. Summer concerts take place both in theaters and al fresco, and this is one of the reasons why many vacationers like to stick around in the cities at night.

This summer promises to be an especially rich and novel season in many respects. Part of the reason is due to the enthusiastic way in which private business initiatives have been springing up these days. Just a few years ago, it was really difficult to find somewhere with a unique ambience to spend some time with family, friends or the love of your life. Nowadays, this has changed quite a bit. Cafés, bars, restaurants, pastry shops and other similar places have been opening their doors everywhere, providing the settings we need for those pleasant moments in our busy lives. Even though sometimes their prices make these places a little out of reach, these are new options that have been welcomed onto the scene.

Playing sports such as volleyball, basketball and tennis, parlor games such as chess, checkers and Parcheesi has become a summer highlight, particularly for children and teenagers. The National Sports Institute, INDER, has fitted out special spots in every municipality so that such activities can be enjoyed with quality and in an organized manner. Their experts are right there to guide anybody who is interested in learning about any of these pastimes.

Since Cuba is basically a country of movie-lovers, the summer months give us more time to take in a great variety of films, either on TV or in the capital’s movie theaters. Both have scheduled movies that will be sure to appeal to audiences. Groups of friends also get together to watch the digital versions of the latest movies in the comfort of their own homes.

And those who enjoy a good book,  from time to time will find many opportunities for this during the summer. Book sellers seem to blossom all over the city in the summer so that no matter how old you are, you will be able to find something to your liking. Book publishers, institutions and literary clubs hold street events, bringing readers and authors together on an informal basis, such as the well-liked and popular La Noche de los Libros [Book Night].

Among the vacationers who flee urban centers to find refuge in glorious natural settings, there are some who indulge at the same time in their love of research and learning, getting away to discover more about their island, whether it is in terms of history, nature or about the people who live in other regions. We can include here the speleologists who pursue their passion for delving into the mysteries of our caves.

During daytime hours, cities also offer many interesting things to do. Many museums and amusement parks plan special summer programs. There are a number of arts and crafts fairs to be visited: the most outstanding one is Arte en La Rampa at Pabellón, centrally located in El Vedado’s most famous stretch of 23rd St, La Rampa. Recreation, culture and history create a fascinating package in the Rutas y Andares Project which is sponsored by the Office of the Historian of Havana. By going on short guided strolls through areas of interest, you can learn about the past and the present at the very sites where significant events occurred.

And in closing, one last thing: Cubans start thinking about how they are going to spend their family vacations many months ahead of time. Summer therefore gets transformed into a very attainable and undeniable dream come true.

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