A Travellerspoint blog

Cuba March 2019

La Habana, Cuba

View Cuba 2019 on Lumpy4Square's travel map.

I finally made it to Cuba, and it was just a week before they closed the border due to COVID. It was sort of a last minute trip, a coworker and his wife had a house there and said I can come and stay with them. I scrambled to renew my passport since I have not been anywhere since having my first child in 2000. Their company was provided the plane ticket so no cost to me. I needed a VISA, and I checked "support for the Cuban people" box.


After landing, we walked down stairs from the plane, boarded a crowded bus and was immediately hit by heat and humidity. It felt so good on my skin since I just left a cold state. Customs was easy enough for me, the guy stamped my passport, and they never talked to me or looked through my luggage. My friend, however, went through intense screening. I ended up waiting for him outside of the airport for over an hour.


After my friend finished whatever he needed to do in customs, we got to leave the airport. The cars are exactly as you have seen in pictures of Cuba. These are cars directly outside of the airport.


I also met a new a new friend, who was waiting for us with rum in hand!


We finally left the airport, and I was just taking in all that was around me. Old cars, Soviet cars, pollution, beautiful but in disrepair buildings, palm trees, horses and goats in the road, billboards talking about a Revolution. I don't understand Spanish so I'm not sure what they said. We stopped at a 'grocery store" that had just about empty shelves. I realized that they have limited or no food. Everyone gets a basic family box of food and personal supplies each month from the government, and it really isn't enough. Everyone is thin.


The tap is safe to drink for locals, but not for foreigners. Most people buy bottled water. Bottled water is everywhere, and I can't imagine the environmental impact. In the house I stayed at, they boiled the water, then put it through a water filter system, filled up water jugs and stored it in a refrigerator. I went with a Lifestraw Water Bottle. I did NOT filter the tap water, I filtered the water from the bottles only because I didn't trust anything having to do with the water supply, bottled or not.


All houses have bars on every single window and door. There is hardly any crime in Cuba, I guess this is part of the reason why. I loved the houses. I loved the colors and the simple architecture, and I would love to go around the city with a pressure washer. I swear everyone has a rooster, either in a cage on the roof or a cage in the back yard. All of the pictures are occupied apartments or schools. The decay is due to the continuous embargo. The people don't have access to anything they need; no paint stores, no Home Depot, no Kroger. They do have internet for those who can afford it, but for goods and services, nothing. The longer I was there, the more I felt so fucking bad. Here I am, a fat white person with an iPhone, apple watch and a LifeStraw Go water bottle and not needing for anything in life, and here they stand in line because they heard a shop MAY have chicken.


The house that my coworker owned was spectacular, it was super fancy even by US standards. By Cuban standards, this house is a palace. I loved listening to the sounds of the city at night. The power would go off every day at random hours, but you get used to it, and learn to *always* keep your stuff charged!


We took a quick trip to Guanabo, and it was super nice to be in the water!!! Wish we could have spent more time there.


The Cuban people, despite the embargo and everything, were so welcoming to me. I don't speak or understand Spanish, but everyone greeted me with smiles, handshakes, and cheek kisses, and this was a month before COVID and masks. I am looking forward to going back again, this time with supplies my new friends needs, and to explore more of this fascinating country.

On the plane back, I started to feel like shit. I felt drained. It wasn't a "post-vacation" exhaustion, but something different. Keep in mind, this was a week before the world shut down their borders due to covid. No one even wore a mask at that time, it was just at the very beginning of covid and no protocols in place. I looked like shit on the plane, it happened so fast. I look so bad in this picture. When I got home, I went to the doctor, luckily I just had strep. Probably from all the cheek kissing I did.


A few days after I left, Cuba closed its borders due to covid. I have been so anxious to go back. Life is hard for them, and despite the difficulties and frustrations they have, they are so kind hearted. I made new life long friends and I can't wait to go back and visit them and their wonderful country.

My TikTok of part of the trip.

Posted by Lumpy4Square 00:16 Archived in Cuba Tagged cuba

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