I am not enamored of Cuba. I am not effusively happy about it. It’s just not that kind of place.
Cuba is not a crush, And neither is three months of travel.
It’s not a vacation, either.
It’s living. I live here.
Cuba is a gutted car from The Godfather next to a horse-drawn cart. It’s power outages and hustlin’. It’s bread that lasts for weeks and vegetarian dishes full of chicken. It’s pushing your busted bus and walking for what seems like forever to get to a club. Cuba is gossip and falsehoods and vagueries. Cuba is rum and cigars and knowing your friends can’t really afford either. It’s plastic bracelets for all inclusive resorts, and black Cubans kept outside the door. It’s plucking fresh flowers and beating your girlfriend in public. Glorious sunny beaches, music in the air, dancing into the night. Cuba is a mezcla, a sopa above all else.
It’s hard to know which reactions are from the length of stay and which are due to the actual location. But the fact of the matter is, Cuba is not a sight-heavy place; there aren’t many monuments here. I mean, they create a lot of them, but one Marti statue is basically as good as any other. For Cuba, I think it’s about opening your eyes, making some friends, and finding the best experiences around. So far, I think I’ve done a pretty good job with that.
I’ve been going through the group one by one and asking them if they like Cuba. Surprisingly, only one person has turned the question back on me, and it rather caught me off guard. Since then, I’ve been trying to formulate my response. I’ll be sharing with you what my compadres and some tourists have said a little later, when I have more responses
There’s an immense amount of pressure to LOVE everywhere you go, as well as to enjoy every packed minute of it, whatever that means.
I definitely am enjoying myself here, and I want to come back, but I’ll be happy to have a steak, a cheeseburger and my own bed when I go home. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that I like Cuba, but I’d like it more if they had decent towels and pillows. Whenever we encounter those or hot showers it’s like the Clampets just got to the big city. At nice hotels on excursions we steal food from the buffet, take the toilet paper and lust after the fluffy towels.
I know it sounds bratty to say all this, but think about it. For three months, you have bad toilet paper or none at all. You sleep in a small, uncomfortable bed, and you very rarely eat a good, solid meal. All the food is monotonous, when it’s even there. All service is slow, inefficient and unreliable.
If they ever open a Wal-Mart here, I simply wouldn’t recognize the place.
So yeah, I like it here. I’m so glad I took the opportunity, and I would never change or trade it. But I would definitely pack differently next time.