This morning we woke up before the crack of dawn. Set the alarm for 4:30, having gone to bed at 2:30. We left the house a little after 5, amazingly we had everyone except two.
WE SAW FIDEL!
Even though we got there insanely early, there was already a huge crowd present when we got there. We stood and waited for almost two hours in the time leading up to the speech. It was dark, of course, since we got there before dawn. So we had great views of the sky over Havana below us as the sun began to rise and the light fell on the University in front of us. Quite a sight.
I managed to record the speech and I edited it to include some commentary and the most important parts. You can hear Fidel's speech (but not very well since he spoke very quietly and the acoustics were bad). There is also a short introduction with music and a student speaker from the University who made some comment warning about Obama and nuclear war. Unfortunately I can't upload it since the file (25MB) is too big for cuba's bandwidth, which, by the way, is rationed.
The speech itself was very difficult to understand; the sound, as I mentioned was bad. Fidel spoke quietly--although in very clear Spanish. I was also dehydrated and exhausted after getting only a few hours sleep the night before.
He reminded me of a benevolent grandfatherly figure. Professorly and charismatic. He made a few comments that made the audience laugh, for example. One was when I think he needed some water. And he also said something about the heat that got people laughing. It was really hot, even at 7:30 a.m.
I feel kind of bad saying it, but it was a pretty boring speech. I think if conditions had been better, I would feel otherwise. It was just hard to follow what he was saying.
He spoke for about 40 minutes. I stopped recording a few minutes before he ended because we began leaving to beat the rush of people, and we left just before he stopped so we were at the front of the crowd. A little crazy to see a hundred thousand people behind you, seemingly running towards you.