Cuba is a cultural delight offer to foreigners visiting the country.
La Havana and Varadedo are two well-known cities for their rich Cuban culture, historical ruins standing tall today, and friendly people at every corner ready to share with you a bit of their beloved Cuba.
La Havana, Cuba used to be an impenetrable jungle that kept the island safe from pirate invasions around the year of 1492, according to Milaka Pavich (Tour Guide).
My family and I visited Cuba for two weeks in April; it was a rewarding Spring getaway to take part in and learn Cuban customs.
Today, it is common to live in a sixteenth century Spanish colonial home in Cuba and drive around in a car from the 1950’s.
We ate well. The food is similar to Mexican cuisine, but without the extra sauces. I don’t recall the names, but I had grilled plantain and a white rice, black bean delicacy.
For example, after taking a picture with them, they pointed to an eye as they made eye contact with me, asking to see the picture.
The gesture was repeated about four or five times quickly, serving as an unintentional distraction since I had a tough time trying to get past their thick accents.
Other mannerisms include shaking hands, followed by a hug and a kiss on a cheek. The same goes for men, not only women.
The most important custom I came across, they do not use the word “mandé”, which in Mexican tradition is a sign of respect when asking someone to repeat something.
Alex, a waiter at a restaurant, explained that “mandé” comes from the word command, therefore, “would you like me to command you to do something for me? Instead use the word ‘qué’ to ask me to repeat myself.”
The word “que” is “what” in the English language.
I spoke to a couple, who both were lawyers in Cuba, about their views on the announcement of the restoration of the ties with the United States.
“Yes, Cuba is a hard working country and we have come so far on our own that we don’t see much of ties being restored with the U.S. as a need, but more as a want,” said Karina Garcia.
Her husband Anthony had a different view and said, “I believe we have been waiting for change in our system and with the U.S. involved that change will come sooner than anticipated.”
Many Cubans agreed upon the same subject about “change”, especially the youth who are eager to venture out of Cuba and experience a more liberating lifestyle with more opportunities available.
It is key to have an open mind and be accepting to new ideas when exploring a new environment ready to take action. Cuba is the place for that new change to occur.