Having just returned for a bucket list trip to Havana, Cuba–we were determined to get there before Starbucks, I finally found some joy again after a rough past couple months that left me feeling down and depressed since the election.
Seriously, one of the best memes that captured exactly how I was feeling said something like, “don’t worry, go to bed…the sh*tstorm will still be here in the morning.” Needless to say, I needed out and Cuba, with it’s lack of easily accessible WIFI, round-the-clock post-election coverage and her extraordinarily warm and welcoming people, turned out to be a godsend.
As an American, I’m fortunate to have ready access to the internet. This is not the case in Cuba. In Cuba, you have to go to an internet vendor and pay the equivalent of $1-3 dollars (when the average Cuban earns $20 per month) for a 1 hour internet card that gives you access to a very slow and unsteady connection at a public WIFI park.
As an American, I’m fortunate to have ready access to an array of goods and pretty much buy whatever I want when I want it. This too was not the case in Cuba. We spent two afternoons searching for bottled water only to be told they were out. Ridiculous as it sounds, when we managed to find a store with a stash of 3 Musketeers, I swear it was the best 3 Musketeers I’ve ever had.
So why am I telling you this? Because even under these conditions, everyone we met took it in stride. No one seemed to care that you couldn’t compulsively check your email or social media every 30 seconds. Instead they preferred to get to know you and ask about life back home. They preferred to interact with your baby, make him laugh and play with him. ALL. THE. TIME.
We’ve been fortunate to travel a lot and I can say without a doubt, everyone in Cuba loves kids. Everyone from customs officials at the airport, to security guards, moto-taxi drivers, random people on the street, farmers in the countryside–everyone was so genuinely kind to us, our child and towards their countrymen.
This seemingly universal kindness is my #1 takeaway from Cuba. Kindness is free and really does make tough situations not seem as bad. So here’s to 2017–it might be crappy, but at least we have each other and the ability to make it suck a little less by making someone else’s day.