How I Truly Felt About Cuba
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about Cuba sharing with you the ins and outs and how to navigate through the country.
But I never quite expressed how I truly felt about Cuba.
Cuba was just – cool.
My mind wasn’t blown.
I didn’t fall in love with the country.
There is no immediate yearning to return.
We are intrigued by this island in the Caribbean that, as Americans at least, we have only recently been “allowed” to visit.
Identifying with Afro- Cuban culture.
Food. Music. Dancing.
After watching movies/documentaries on Cuba (I highly recommend Una Noche) and reading up on the political and social history; I was looking forward to authentic connections, a better understanding of the Afro- Cuban culture, the food, to name a few – yet, my expectations for what I hoped to experience in Cuba just was not met.
Let me give you some insight on why…
The food was just okay. This was a serious blow to me (huge foodie here!). There was only one restaurant in Havana that we frequented because the food was delicious and affordable. Everywhere else, the food and experience were subpar and mediocre. This ranged from 4-star’other dining to local eats. Honestly, I have had better Cuban food at the bodega on the East side.
There is still a very noticeable divide between Afro-Cubans and ‘other’ Cubans. Even with a language barrier, the conversations with Afro-Cubans was so warm and embracing! They wanted to acknowledge and appreciate our (African Americans) presence in the country. But again, the racial divide can be seen from outer space. Most of the service, labor, and back-of-the-house jobs were all dark, Afro- Cubans. The lighter the skin, the greater the opportunity to have well-paying jobs.
Not to mention, a lady came into the men’s room after my friend in a 5-star hotel, assuming he was a Afro-Cuban, to ask him to leave the property. Once she realized he was American, she apologized profusely and went on with her day.
Cuba is probably one of the most expensive islands in the Caribbean I have visited. Not to mention converting USD to EUROs (or Canadian) to Cuban pesos was honestly a headache. You REALLY have to be careful with your budget. It caused a bit of anxiety knowing that if you run out of money, it would be hell trying to get someone to wire money to you.
* I believe there is a credit union in the States that allows you to use the ATM in Cuba now.
Not A Lot to Do/See:
My travel style is that of cultural immersion and authentic experiences. It only takes two solid days to do Havana, if that. The real gems are in other cities that are more rural, authentic, and quieter (we went to Trinidad and Varadero). It saddened me to have a maxed out “To Do/See” list in half a day.
Honestly – I was caught up in the hype.
The novelty that Cuba was the mysterious, untapped gem. When, in fact, there are expensive, luxury hotels and industries going up all over Havana getting ready for you to come in and spend. It reminds me how of they are gentrifying historic neighborhoods all over the States. The country is changing and changing quickly. I believe it’s already too late to catch the untapped Cuba.
In no way, am I bashing Cuba. There were plenty of amazing things that I enjoyed about Cuba including the architecture and sunsets over Varadero beach!
Many of the buildings are old and falling apart, but if you close your eyes, you can almost smell the sweet tobacco from hand rolled cigars, hear the loud, live bands blasting through the open windows, coupled with laughter and chatter. The authentic, unchanged architecture with the intricate details is stunning.
I’m not attempting to discourage you from visiting Cuba.
I encourage you to travel the world and create your experiences, opinions, and perceptions!
If you’ve ever received to Cuba, what were your thoughts on the country?