When my friend Yasmine approached me about going to Cuba for spring break this year, I did not hesitate to say yes. Obviously, I had never been to Cuba and I knew this opportunity was one I could not pass up. My trip was nothing shy of insightful, exciting, and eye opening. Cuba is a beautiful country with beautiful people, architecture, and an incredible language. I am so privileged to have experienced such an amazing culture even if it was for a short period of time.
It wasn't until I got to Cuba that I realized how little Spanish I had actually retained from learning it years prior. That being said, I would say I was able to use what little Spanish I knew to express myself, although I know my bilingual friends would disagree.
Yasmine studied abroad in Cuba last year and loved it so much that she spent the summer there. I was excited to go with her because I knew she would not only know great tourist locations but local ones as well. What I did not know was that Yasmine's Cuban friends would be some of the greatest people I had ever met.
One of the main reasons I enjoyed being in Cuba was because of how hospitable and warm the people were. It was quite the experience getting to know a lot of her friends, listening to their stories, and telling them mine. I would try to speak to them in Spanish whenever I could but unfortunately, it never lasted due to the five minutes it would take me to figure out how each word and tense I was saying was actually conjugated. Everyone was so interesting to talk to and fun to be around. I really enjoyed asking them a lot of questions about what it was like to live in Cuba, their school studies, and of course, how to say a number of different things in Spanish.
Our week in Cuba consisted of going to places such a Old Havana, where we got to see the most beautiful street art, architecture, listen to live bands, and drink out of fresh coconuts. We also went to Callejon De Hamel, a long alley that is known for its Santeria art and Afro Cuban culture. The beach was also one of the most beautiful places about the country and surprisingly, had the bluest water I have ever seen. Nightlife is Cuba was also fantastic. If we weren’t salsa dancing or going to art galleries that turned into a night parties, we would go to one of the many parks in Cuba, with a bunch of our friends and at least two bottles of rum to go around. I found a lot of pleasure in these nights as they would usually end up in debate about colorism, communism, or the vast culture that Cuba encompasses.
It is my hope to visit Cuba again soon. I can truly say it was one of the most incredible trips I have ever been on. With a place like Cuba, being there for only a week was definitely not enough to fully immerse myself into the culture. However, the little that I was able to see was more than enough incentive for me to go back.