Cuba changed my life
It only took a few seconds.
The moment my foot touched Cuban soil I was filled with an internal conflict. I fell in love with the place immediately. Cuba is a country that knows itself. Cuba is a country that loves itself. I wanted to capture everything and yet at the same time I felt as if taking pictures and video was somehow altering it all. I wanted it to remain the same. Pictures could do no justice in expressing the way It felt to talk with Olga my host or walk the streets of Havana. Videos of the people do not allow you to feel the solidarity of the community I stayed in. Much of my time I battled with the decision to just live in the moment or take as many pictures as possible.
I appreciated every moment that I spent immersed in the Cuban culture. I cannot wait to go back (God willing of course). I recommend that all who love to travel plan a trip to this wonderful island.
We may be called the United States but we are clearly divided. I felt no discrimination or division in Cuba. The people were so loving and helpful. I do imagine that like everywhere because people are different, somewhere there exists conflicts and divisiveness. Based on what I heard about Cuban American relations, I expected to be treated poorly because I am an American. It was the opposite. I was treated as if I was Cubano. (some of the time) It was awesome!
I enjoy being off the grid on occasion. The only place you might find Wi-Fi or internet in Havana is at the Hotels. If there are other locations, they are unknown to me. I really did not go out of my way to find it either. I was so captivated by the culture and the architecture. I really did not care to try and find internet.
No there may not have been WiFi access, like everywhere you turn here in America, but I loved that there were so many parks. There were plenty of benches where you can rest and enjoy being out in the beautiful weather. I could have racked up a nice cell phone bill and used my data to snap chat the whole experience but I decided to just observe with my natural eyes instead.
I ate most my meals at the house I was staying in. Olga prepared very traditional and wonderful meals for me. One day she made me yucca. Recently, I had been reading about yucca and was curious to try it. So this truly excited me. A new food in a new country? Yes, please. And thank you.
I ate at one restaurant in Havana Roberto, who I met on the street, led me to (I know this may sound scary to some but relax). It seemed to be the place to take all touristas, which I found very interesting. All the meals were 15 cuc(15 usd). You could choose from meats of all sorts from lamb to lobster to beef to chicken. Rice beans, and salad were included and there was a 10% tax or tip added on to your meal cost as well. I had lobster in a traditional Cuban sauce made from a tomato base. Before they served my entree they brought out some fried plantains. I am still trying to figure out why, or rarther, how the lobster and the lamb and the chicken were all the same price? I found the food to be less spice heavy as the cooking of many of its Carribean neighbors, but still very good.
I highly recommend staying with a local versus staying in a hotel especially if you are looking to experience real Havana. I had such a great time hanging out on the patio watching the kids walk around freely with no worries. I will forever cherish the conversations with Olga and playing with her little Chihuahua who became like my best friend. I will never forget the conversations with locals as I walked around taking the city in. Olga was able to give me guidance and help me navigate the city. I also learned that despite the language barrier using your hands to make gestures and act out what you are trying to communicate will help get your message across. Not speaking a language should never be a reason you do not travel somewhere.
Plus she cooked almost all my meals… =]
I cannot wait to go back and spend more time in Cuba. I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent in Havana and on the beach. There truly is no place like Cuba. Everyone does their part to take care of the whole. I was rather surprised at how clean it was. I never really saw trash in the streets even where they were doing construction. Maybe my short time did not allow for me to experience more of Cuba but what I did witness was nothing but greatness. I will go back and spend more time with the Cuban people but until then I will cherish the memories created on my last trip.
Read more about how to get to Cuba here.
At the risk of sounding ridiculous, a true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love. — Che Guevaramedium.com
Check out this video of my time in Havana.
Thank you for reading!!
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also published at www.manifestdestinee.com