A Month in Havana-Part I

Before we leave

You will probably not be surprised when I say I love Cuba, ‘cause why would I be writing about it if I didn’t, right? No, I am not Cuban, although sometimes I wish I were, if only for the ability to shake my hips like they do. I was born and raised in a capital of a small south European country which is very much different from one of the largest cities in North America I now call my home. I grew up surrounded by a socialist ideology of a one party system, and although most of my childhood was marked with peace and prosperity, in my early adulthood things started to change. Before becoming a norteamericana, I endured hardships of a life in an ostracized and isolated, and quite often misunderstood country. But why am I telling you all this? I believe that my past and present life experiences, combined with my somewhat warm blood, are giving me a unique perspective and understanding of Cuba and its people.
I have been to Cuba so many times that I have stopped counting. More than keeping score, it is important to me how I spent my always-too-short visits and all the new things I can learn and experience. I fell in love with this beautiful island and its people (I know, I know, it sounds like such a cliché) the moment the hot and muggy air hit me in the face one early fall afternoon in ’97. Even though a lot of time has passed since then, the sensation of that first moment when I step out of the plane onto the shaky metal stairs leading to the tarmac, that wonderful moment is still there. I have often been asked what it is about Cuba that fascinates me, and that, of course, is not an easy question to answer. To simplify it a bit, and I am sure that all of those who keep going back to the island would agree, it is a unique blend of history, tradition, nature, music and most of all, people, that makes it so special. Even more, the fact that we “clicked” together, Cuba and I, is what makes me feel at home when I’m there and makes me long for it when I’m not. About the feeling at home part, it’s only up to a point, of course. My Spanish is still pretty bad and there is still so much to learn, so many places to visit, so many books to read and so many conversations to continue. I’m working on it, though.
But let us go back to the title – A month in Havana. After spending numerous vacations in all-inclusive resorts, my husband and I became hungry for more, the kids, I have to admit, are a little less enthusiastic. One thing we all agree about is that we are fed up with a plane full of mismatched vacationers, the loud inauthentic music and the somewhat repetitive hotel designs. It is a well-known fact that if you don’t venture far from your hotel grounds, you do not see Cuba, period. So, this time, we will not only spend a month in Cuba, thirty days-to be exact, but we will be in a house all to ourselves.
And now, my dear readers, I leave you to ponder our future adventures in this beautiful and exotic, yet tame country. A fair warning, though-you will not hear from me again until after we come back, as I am not going to waste my precious time waiting for slow and unreliable internet, still a big problem in Cuba. I am curious to see-since my last visit in August of last year-if there are any major changes in Havana, except of course for $250,000 cars.
Hasta luego!

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