I wish I could tell you all about Cuba. But I don’t know enough.
I wish I could tell you all about the history of Cuba, but I am unqualified.
I wish I could tell you all about Cuba today, but there are too many things I didn’t even see.
Cuba seems to change on a daily basis, a world shifting and changing to suit its own needs. I say that only as a tourist. I don’t know what it is like to be Cuban, or to live on an island nation governed by a unique set of principles. There seems to be a purposeful divide between the local daily life and the tourist tableau on display. Perhaps this is not all that different from the way other countries allow tourists to see their world, but it is the most apparent divide I have seen.
Even so, the Havana I saw in a measly five days was full of magic, where around every corner I thought, “I did not expect to see that.”
Restaurants that were open and thriving three days ago, recommended by our Cuban hosts, were closed for renovation, or gone completely when we tried to visit them.
Three dogs ran by on the street, all wearing t-shirts, two wearing hats, and one with a nametag.
The only salsa dancing I did was a doorman to a bar, egged on by a drunk American tourist (that I did not know).
I’ll go into depth about our trip, my usual, day by day, but I have to tell you that visiting La Habana was surreal. More so for me than other Latin American countries. There is something unique to Habana, maybe the communism hosting capitalist tourists, maybe a crumbling city that is nearing its 500th birthday, or perhaps being in a country where knowledge is open and free to any citizen who shows interest. The art on every street corner surpassed anything I’d seen in American tourist galleries. The bands in almost every bar starting at 4 o’clock in the afternoon were better than most thrown-together bar bands in tourist districts I’ve been in. And that was just them playing covers.
But to all of these there is a caveat, a wondering what the real Cuba is like, because we saw the Instagram profile of the country: beautiful cars, intriguing sunsets, and even the crumbling and disarray of the old town fell apart in an elegant manner.
Despite my suspicions, make no mistake, there is magic in Cuba. It isn’t big magic, the hit you over the head kind, but rather the shrugging, of-course-it-is type of magic that citizens accept and visitors marvel over.
I can’t wait to show you guys the pictures.