At first glance Cuba does look stuck in the past but it is moving forward in its own way keeping the pieces of the past that it wants to share with the world.
In alignment with that, as I walk the path of Hemingway’s Havana haunts history came alive in the present. It appears that Hemingway is honored by the Cubans more than I would have imagined. Intertwined with our tour of Hemingway and history, the past was mixed with social interaction of community projects of the Cuban people.
We went to a community program that provided social interaction for seniors and assistance to those who needed help. We were entertained by a group of enthusiastic smiling elders doing a rap routine genuinely excited to be sharing their story with us.
Every place we went from historical sights, to bars, to restaurants, to shops the Cuban people were happy to engage and interact with us. They were proud of pieces of their history they readily shared but mostly they were proud to show us the beauty and talent of Cuba.
In between the crumbling buildings, and the historic buildings being restored are new modern high rises being built. As Cuba comes into its growing pains it has some much to offer. As Americans this is all new to us but as we strolled Havana it was filled with tourists from all over the world, many who have been coming and enjoying this amazing culture and warmth of the Cuban people.
I have to admit when this trip was being planned, I was hesitant. I had heard so much negativity and propaganda about Cuba that is wasn’t even on my list of places to visit. Thankfully it was on my sister’s list!
Walking around Havana I felt like I was walking in history with moments of stepping back into the present moment.
As our tour guides shared with us the history of the buildings we learned about the people, as she talked about the statues and the parks I heard the community coming together. Even as we walked in Hemingway’s steps we saw and experienced the people, a culture of arts, music, dance and drinks that was alive with happiness.
The smiles on the faces, the laughing, the dancing, the singing, their individuality shined. Cubans are proud of there culture. They are colorful and bright. They are relaxed and happy. They are light-hearted and giving. They are religious and spiritual. Helpful and friendly. We were welcomed with open arms. My understand and perspective of Cuba changed in those 2 days.
What I know know is that Color and the Creative Arts are at the heart of the Cuban Culture. Religion/Spirituality and History are the foundational backbone. They are admit in holding onto it all as they move forward as people into the present and the future.
We do wish we had been better informed about the truth of what we could actually do while in Cuba but we instead were filled with all the things we had to do. And a little anxious about venturing outside of what we were told. We did enjoy and learn a lot in the excursions we choose, we would have just loved to have stepped outside and experience some of the other wonderful and beautiful places Cuba has to offer.
As we should know the people of a country are not politics or their political leaders. It doesn’t matter what country you travel to and visit, personal interactions with locals are as deep and connected as any an enriching interaction you can have with anyone you meet. The openness, warmth and affection that the people showed us and interacted with us opened my heart and released all those false ideas that had been placed in my head.
Yet I have always know this because I have always experienced this no matter what country I am in or where I have traveled to. We all desire to discover each other on a deeply human and personal level. It is in discovering each other and each others culture that we all become better our self and better at living life more compassionately. In our differences we uncover new perspectives of life and living. In cultural and personal exchange we can move forward into a new prosper future for all people.
I now know that I had no need to be hesitate in cruising to Cuba and now it is on my list to return to. There still is so much to see, discover, learn and experience all over the world.