Americans generally have quick and easy access to almost anywhere in the world. The island of Cuba lies only about 90 miles south of the Florida Keys, yet Cubans face much difficulty in entering many countries, including the United States. The strict guidelines and separation can cause Cuba to seem distant from the world.
Cesia Rodriguez lived in Havana, the capital of Cuba, until she was sixteen. With the buzzing city and the ocean views, the island of Cuba is very near to her heart. Rodriguez hasn’t gotten the chance to go back to Cuba to see her family, but she has hopes to visit them this upcoming summer.
“Cubans are very passionate people, which makes the culture so strong and vivid. That passion of the people is what makes the baseball games so fun to watch or the music so irresistible to dance,” Rodriguez said.
Baseball and music are some of the most important qualities of Cuba to the locals, but to an American visitor the unique classic cars and 1960s feel is the best part of the visit.
Some visitors would describe Cuba as going into a time machine because of the classic cars, colorful housing, and very limited WiFi. These classic vehicles are constantly roaming the streets alongside friendly faces and Che Guevara t-shirts.
Some other American favorites are the food specialties like strong Cuban coffee or the favorite Cuban dessert, flan. Many visitors grab their delicious snacks and drinks and head to the beautiful beaches on the island.
Rodriguez said, “The beaches are breathtaking and the nights sitting by the bay in Havana enjoying a refreshing breathe and the splashing waves from the ocean as you look at the lights of the city reflected on the water and the huge light house that lights across the ocean will make you want to sit there and enjoy that moment forever.”
Locals have a strong sense of community on the island. Most locals live with doors open wide and welcome others warmly with a lot of kisses and hugs.
“Living in a community, people support each other all the time. I remember my house always being full of people, from neighbors to classmates to church members, willing to listen and help each other,” Rodriguez said.
The people of Cuba take pride in their unified culture, unlike Americans, who sometimes place more value in the individual. Everyone is willing to reach out a hand to help each other.
Rodriguez said, “Cuba has an extra strong bond because of what the people of Cuba have been through as a result of the Communist government.”
The people of Cuba undergo the daily struggle of trying to connect through government-controlled WiFi and understanding the constantly changing world while they live in the past. Cubans have a strong sense of pride and unity throughout every aspect of their lives.
Rodriguez commented on the joy in Cuba by saying, “After so much oppression, you still walk around the streets and hear the happiness through the music and dancing, through the children running around and playing under the rain.”
Even with all the hardships in the Cuban past and present, the joy and kindness of the people will make you appreciate the little things in life.