…and should be yours in 2016:
1. The mystery! For Americans, especially us 30-somethings, Cuba has always been off-limits and therefore mysterious. We weren’t even alive for a good portion of the events leading to Cuba being forbidden and we have no idea just what the heck is REALLY going on over there. Likewise, I found that many Cubans are even more in the dark about life off of their island. Finding my way (legally) into the country and exploring its rich culture and history this year is something I’ll never forget. There’s a palpable electricity in the air in Havana. People are wondering what will happen now. The Americans are coming. The Americans are here. Will this be good? Present new challenges? We don’t know. I wanted to see Cuba before too much was disturbed. Cuba did not disappoint.
2. The people! Cubans were incredibly friendly to me. Everyone I met asked where I was from (once they determined I wasn’t African or European LOL) and were so excited when my response was “the States”. Some took pictures. Cuba has a complicated history with Russia, China, Venezuela, others. I learned so much by just talking to the people of Cuba. Information more gritty than that which I would have learned in a museum (though their history museum has an…interesting slant) or in a book. The people are what make Cuba.
3. The cars! Of course LOL. And not just the cars, but the beauty throughout Havana. The paradoxes. The juxtapositions of old family secret recipes served in paladares that now accept some credit cards. The 1960s cars roving through tight dusty winding city alleys, yet on the corner of those alleys, a crowded wifi spot packed with Cubans hunched over smartphones. Wifi is new in Cuba. There is a TON of new and old in Cuba. Socialism has that effect. It’s fascinating to see in person. And note, there is way more complexity to Cuba than I’m giving credit for in this short post. There is nothing simple or vanilla about the political and economic history behind Cuba. While tourists such as myself may go to take pictures, there is a reality to Cuba that is lived every day by those who call Cuba home. I don’t wish to make light of that.
If you haven’t been to Cuba yet, I highly recommend. And quickly, before…Americans (spoken by an American). It’s absolutely one of my favorite travel memories.