How I feel about Cuba…

How I feel about Cuba

I wrote this post the day I got back from Cuba, over 2 months ago. But I didn’t have the guts to publish it… However, after having read this honest and inspirational post from Liz of Young Adventuress  I decided I did not want my own self-doubt holding me back from publishing this post.

I don’t want to listen to the annoying voice in my head telling me my writing is terrible. That nobody wants to read about my thoughts and feelings about Cuba. That I cannot express myself good enough to do justice to the country. It may all be true but I no longer want to care.

This is my blog, which I started to share my travel experiences. So I finally pressed the publish button…

Cuba country on crossroads

I have given it a lot of thought why Cuba and its people touched a nerve and why I felt the sorrow of this country so much more than the countries in Southeast Asia I visited. Because obviously there are issues there too. I think it’s because in Cuba I spoke with people in their own language. My Spanish, limited as it may be, enabled me to talk with many people in Cuba. In their own tongue. I think that’s what made the difference.

The problems in Cuba are not necessarily bigger or smaller than in other countries in the world. I just know more about the problems because people told me about them…

Old Santiago de Cuba Old Santiago de Cuba city

Cuba has so many facets and it’s difficult for me to describe how Cuba made me feel. On the one hand people are so kind, happy and welcoming. But on the other hand they are suffering. There are shortages of basic goods like clothes and toiletries.

There is no freedom of speech and press and it’s difficult to determine how much people can say and how much they are not saying.

The amazing classic cars may be very beautiful, but they break down all the time and consume a lot of fuel, making it difficult to keep them going. There is no alternative so people do their utmost to keep them running.

If you don’t own a classic car, motorcycle or bicycle, you can safely hitchhike everywhere. But it’s not because you like it, it’s because you have no other choice.

Cuba and how I feel about Cuba

The luck of the poor doesn’t last very long is how one of the people I spoke with described it.

“We are happy because we have bananas. But we have no oil to fry them in”.

“We are happy because we have new shoes. But after a week the shoes are broken because of poor quality”.

“We are happy the engine of our car is working. But now we have a flat tire”.

No es facil en Cuba, life isn’t easy…

Yes, I tried to help by giving away some clothes, some money, some shampoos, soaps, pens… But I cannot give them the guarantee it will get better. For one, I don’t know if the embargo will be lifted.

As the Cubans say: we know it cannot get worse than the past. I would love to ensure them the future will be better. Honestly, I don’t know…

Santiago de Cuba city

Because, what will happen if the embargo is lifted? What will happen now that some people have access to luxury goods? Or own their own (expensive) houses near the beach?

What will happen with the incredible Cuban sense of community, helping each other out, being there for each other, sharing everything with each other because that’s all there is.

Cuba how I feel about Cuba

Yes, I would love for the Cuban people to have it all, but I would hate to see the unique culture and values of Cuban culture destroyed because of materialism. Because of money, property and things… Things don’t matter.

Family does! Friends do! Being there for each other does!

But yes, you obviously need a minimum amount of basic things to get by. So who am I to talk, having all those basic things and more…

If there is nothing, life is hard…

Cuba… it’s a country of contrasts. A country I have difficulty with to put into words. A country that has welcomed me with nothing but smiles and kindness, a country on a crossroad in time.

We’ll see what the future holds for Cuba, vamos a ver…

Want to learn more about Cuba and it’s turbulent history? Check out this extensive Cuba book list by my friend Carol.

Have you ever visited a country that touched a nerve? Which country was it and why?

Cuba… it’s a country of contrasts. A country I have difficulty with to put into words. A country that has welcomed me with nothing but smiles and kindness, a country on a crossroad in time.Cuba… it’s a country of contrasts. A country I have difficulty with to put into words. A country that has welcomed me with nothing but smiles and kindness, a country on a crossroad in time.

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  1. May 28, 2016 / 2:47 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story and your feeling about Cuba. You made a very good point, you know about Cuban problems because you could actually talk to the people 🙂 And I think it’s wonderful to talk with people when we travel abroad!

    • Lotte
      May 28, 2016 / 11:03 pm

      Thank you Florence, I really appreciate your kind comment:-)

  2. June 12, 2016 / 6:47 am

    Thankyou for publishing this post – never hold back from sharing your honest reflections; we need more honest writing like this. Because travel is not just all about the fantastic awe inspiring moments – sometimes we visit countries that are suffering too, and I think it’s important to not gloss over this, and bring it to light.

    You’ve definitely made an interesting point about the balance between maintaining a sense of community and culture should imports start freely flowing into the country. It’s a hard line to balance. Hopefully the situation for local Cubans can only improve though.

    • Lotte
      June 12, 2016 / 9:19 am

      Thank you so much Meg for your encouraging comment, I really appreciate it:-). I sincerely hope things will improve for local Cuban people and a balance can be maintained…

  3. June 12, 2016 / 11:31 am

    I didn’t feel like this at all in Cuba. I simply experienced their love of life and dance but it was a long time ago and they may have been less willing to talk. Cambodia touched me in a similiar way. Having studied at Indochine politics at university and read up on it before travelling there, the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge seemed all too real. I’ve been to Auschwitz and other harrowing places, but visiting the killing fields is a memory that haunts me. That combined with the abject poverty, the vulnerable children on the streets and the tourists scams profoundly affected me. It’s an incredible place to visit but it left me a little tortured!

    • Lotte
      June 12, 2016 / 7:06 pm

      Everybody experiences a country in their own way, that’s the beauty of travel. Cambodia was difficult for me as well, their history is so awful…

  4. Carly Moore
    June 12, 2016 / 3:29 pm

    I’d like to share something someone told me when I first started blogging – “Write for yourself, not for others.” I mean, we all try to cater our posts to be informative, but sometimes we need to write a bit more for ourselves. So kudos for publishing your thoughts on Cuba. It is your blog, your story, your feelings.

    • Lotte
      June 12, 2016 / 7:02 pm

      Thank you very much Carly, you are totally right! Writing really helps me to process the things I experience on my travels and that’s partially why I started this blog.

  5. June 13, 2016 / 6:08 am

    Everyone will find a place we have mixed feelings towards, and you are right- it is your blog and you should be able to publish any honest opinion you feel! It is hard to distinguish what would be ‘better’ sometimes, although life could be more comfortable it would be a great shame to lose parts of a community.

    • Lotte
      June 13, 2016 / 7:33 pm

      Thank you Mar! Yes, you are right, it’s difficult to determine what will be ‘better’, hopefully a balance can be found in Cuba…

  6. June 13, 2016 / 8:09 am

    Love this post! I feel as bloggers we should not be shy to share our feelings and thoughts on a destination. I did so with a recent post on Varanasi. I tried not to hold back on emotions that came to me while visiting there. 🙂

    • Lotte
      June 13, 2016 / 7:32 pm

      Thanks for your kind words Anita:-). I’ll check out your Varanasi post to read about your emotional visit.

  7. June 14, 2016 / 10:29 pm

    Awesome for speaking up! I know a lot of people are visiting Cuba these days before the embargo goes and they still hope to see a bit of Cuba of its current version. Let’s see in a year or two how it goes, we can never foresee and I’m sure it will be great to look at this post then…

    • Lotte
      June 15, 2016 / 8:18 am

      I agree, it will be interesting to look back in 2 years and see what changed. Hopefully things change for the good in Cuba…

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