Memories of Cuba's Forced Farming

Alex at Stuck on the Palmetto writes about the improbably fond memories he and others share about "la escuela al campo, the program in which every Cuban kid between 7th and 12th grade goes to do agricultural work for a period of 30 or 45 days."

Despite the fact that "there aren't many experiences more hellish than picking dew-wet tobacco leaves at 6 am when it's 50 degrees or weed crops with your bare hands under the hot afternoon sun,"

For us it was the first time away from home and on our own. We had to learn to socialize, to share, to lean on each other. And we had fun: dated (and yes, had sex) with careless abandon, planned vicious pranks, went for joyrides in tractors or horses, stole food from the kitchen and smuggled alcohol for wild parties. Away from our parents, we were free to experiment and find ourselves, question authority and become adults.

-Frank Houston

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