I’m lucky enough to have a good friend who’s family has adopted me for Thanksgiving while in college. Last year, we received the news that Fidel Castro had died, something that wasn’t particularly unexpected but still felt surprising, the end of an era. This sparked a conversation about how Cuba would change in future years, which ended up with us three college students deciding we wanted to visit while we could.
My college has what’s known as “Senior Week,” a whole seven days after the last exams are taken before the graduation ceremony where basically all graduating seniors remain on campus and get drunk. We could purchase a package for $100 that would allow us access to certain deals in town that mainly involved more alcohol. Round trip tickets to Cuba from Baltimore, however, were $200, so I decided that I’d rather get drunk in Havana than in Westminster. (Though I ultimately didn’t have more than a drink at a time, so I guess I failed the college experience.)
Two friends who worked with me for the Maryland General Assembly and one of their girlfriends came along, too, and I loved having a chance to get to know them better, as well.
I’ve spent some time reconciling my thoughts about this entire experience, about the entirely different and incredible society just some miles south of the capitalist United States, and instead of properly ‘blogging’ about this, I’m going to share memories based on photos.
I arrived before my friends did. Waiting in line at the airport to exchange currency, I carefully befriended three girls from Fresno and asked if they’d be willing to share a taxi with me–as they tend to be 25cuc flat rate, this worked out in everyone’s favour.
From their hotel, I had two miles to walk to my hostel, so I made my way to the Malecón, the long seawalled road around the northern side of the city, and meandered along the promenade. All I had with me was my backpack; I would only stay four nights.
I was struck then by how many people were sitting and hanging out with friends, no cell phones in sight, chatting and laughing. How carefree they all seemed!
Hostel DRobles cost me a whopping $6.50 a night. I was considering spending my last two nights at a Casa Particular, in the home of a Cuban. All over the city were signs advertising rooms to rent. However, since I ended up having a friend staying at the hostel with me, I stayed there the whole time.