Upon returning from my trip to Cuba, I felt refereshed, fulfilled and at peace. The lingering moments made me remember how neccessary it is to vacation and disconnect from the hustle and bustle of every day life. Cuba was just that for me. Although I have vacationed many times before, there was something special about this trip that prompted me to compile a list of reasons why I'd choose Cuba over and over again.
1. The prominence of the African Diaspora
I'll let you all in on a little secret: remnants of the African Diaspora exist all over the world. Something else I should let you know is that existence of the diaspora does not always warrant knowledge of being part of it. To my surprise, however, Cubans are so woke. A lot of them possess just as much (even more) mealnin as (than) I and they know that their ethnicity cannot be defined as solely Cuban/ latinos. The evidence of the diaspora was prevalent in their appearance (obviously), hair, skin, style of dress, cultural traditions. Their appreciation for their heritage was made apparent to me, when they would compliment me. The compliments were not out of a spirit of fetishization. Instead, it was almost as if they were looking into a mirror and as they graciosuly offered compliments to me, it reflected back on them and how beautiful they are. I loved that.
2. The Genuity of The People
I have traveled to many Caribbean and tropical islands. Naturally I have met a ton of people in my travels and have availed myself of the different personalities. There was a genuine warmth protruding from the people of Cuba. Most of the people we interacted with possessed such beautiful spirits and took on the responsibility of ensuring that we had a safe and enjoyable experience.
3. Feels Like Home
In continuing with the genuity of the Cuban people, I felt like I was at home. The first Air BnB we stayed at emanated a strong sense of home. We felt comfortable the moment we walked through the door of our "flat." This sense of comfortability was only heightened when we started each morning with a home cooked breakfast from one of the hosts. While the breakfasts were very simple, they were fulfilling and forged a sense of community and familial living. Our host gave us "mami" vibes instead of that of simply a "host." (What felt like) our personal taxi driver instilled a sense of saftey and instead of simply providing a service, it felt like our friend has come to pick us up and hang out with us for the day.
4. To practice my Spanish with folks who want to practice their English.
The truth is, anytime I travel to a country where the dominant language is Spanish, I leap at the opportunity to be able to practice mine! Although, I am fortunate enough to have a job that forces me to use it, there is nothing like being immersed in a country; a culture that forces you to navigate pieces of its culture through the usage of the language. To my surprise, there are a lot of Cubans who speak English as well. Being amongst people who valued my language so much so that they wanted to practice speaking with me was a win win! We exchanged our desire to know more by speaking our second languages to one another. How beautiful is that?
5. Simple Living --Cheap Cheap
Being socialized in a very American culture is a severe disease that I can always place a band aide over whenever I travel. Being able to go abroad and observe how simple others live (out of neccessity) is one of the most humblest expereinces life has ever afforded to me. Cubans do not make much monthly. The way to assess the level of wealth of a Cuban is if they have one or two of the following items: a cellphone; a car. Those who do not possess one or either of these are among the majority and that is ok. Cubans are people who are at such peace with what they have. Majority of their money goes to travel expenses and food for the home (which isn't that much becasue they can grow their own produce). Majority of the money my girls and I spent while there was on food and transportation. The "lavish" lifestyle is almost nonexistent and the beauty in this is that the country is not plagued by the superficial.
6. Eat well
Speaking of the American plague, Cuba made me realize more and more how much of a terror my home country is. This was evidenced in the food I ate whle in Cuba. It was some of the freshest and purest food I have EVER consumed in my entre life. Why? It isn't saturated with hormones and all that extra artificial stuff that our country markets to us as organic, steriod free, hormone free, gluten free, etc. The food there is homegrown (aka truly organic) and its cheap because it is not out sourced. This ensures that there is no reason to "preserve" the food before it gets to us.
7. To Disconnect
I could not use my cell phone while in Cuba because there was no internet access. It was lovely living in each and every moment. I was void of social media and was not consuming myself with what everyone else back at home was doing. I was not texting others and checking in or filling in about my trip as it was happening. I recieved the opptounity to be completely present and live through each moment so that I could recount a FULL experience upon my return.
7. Beach Life
My vacations are totally incomplete without at least one beach day. Varadero was breath taking and absolutely perfect. I was able to sport my new swim suit and accessorized it with my new body (that I did not know existed underneath my clothes). I could see my toes at the bottom of the clear blue water. I could lay on the beach chair, left alone to my thoughts. I could play my gospel music and give God glory for the mighty works of his hand that include the beach!
8. Direct flight! Hello?
Getting a direct flight has been a steady struggle for me. The fact that Delta airlines would show me so much love and grant me a direct 4 hour flight to Cuba wa certainly a highlight of this trip!
While this list could certainly go on and on, I stop it here. That trip was a total life changing experience and if you had the slightest desire to take a trip to Cuba, it is my hope that this list influenced your thoughts in a positive way.