Day 6: Thursday, March 2
I started the day again watching the sunrise over old Habana.
There were usually cool breezes in the morning coming up the hillside overlooking the ocean, so you did not know whether to wear a jacket or not. I imagine summer is dreadful in Habana since this is winter and the average temperature is 75 during the day. Far cry from Indiana!
As the sun begins to rise it highlights that shapes of the clouds before it actually crowns over the buildings. It reminded me of a baby’s head crowning during a vaginal delivery.
Gail Reed from MEDICC, Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba, spoke to us about their efforts to expand cooperation between the Cuban and U.S. governments. She is an American, but has lived, married, divorced and raised children in Cuba for the past 30 years.
She was delightful and spoke about the Cuban culture. MEDICC serves to create bridges between Cuba and the US in many forms. She was trained as a journalist and now serves as the executive director.
We visited CENESEX (National Center for Sex Education) today and mostly heard about transgender patients in Cuba. We sat in a hot room with 2 circulating fans which did little to make us more comfortable. We discussed LGBTQ, transgender and contraception in Cuba.
I learned that despite Cuba being a country where Catholicism is practiced, abortion is legal and widely used in Cuba until 12 weeks. Fetal anomalies can be terminated by a medical procedure after 12 weeks, but they do not refer to it as an abortion. Likely, this has helped to decrease their infant mortality to levels well below the US in a very short period.
In the afternoon, we visited an elderly care rehab center. The highlight was a musical serenade by 8-10 elderly ladies. They sang three songs in Spanish. The oldest was a 92-year-old woman dressed like Carmen Miranda. She just needed the fruit on her hat. She had kissed several members of our group when we arrived.
After their musical performance they gave each doctor a souvenir. It was a small pin shaped liked a hat to wear on our coats. It was probably one of the most beautiful gifts I have ever received!