An Unforgettable Trip to Cuba
By: Roxana Moazami
This past winter break, my family and I took a risk that few Americans do.
We went to Cuba.
Ironically, when we came back, we heard on the news that America is trying to restore its relations with Cuba. As great as that sounds, we’re happy that we got to see Cuba before it becomes too Americanized. What do I mean by that? As weird as it might be to Americans, there were no Starbucks or McDonalds lying on every block. There was no American music blasting in every car, and there were no new American cars. Instead, there were classy early 20th-century cars that looked like they came straight from The Great Gatsby or Casablanca.
It was a great one-week escape from the American world, and it was a truly an educational experience, for I learned a lot about living in a communist environment. Although many people will make this common mistake, the Cubans prefer to be classified as socialists and not as communists. The Cubans were all smiles and living as if there was no tomorrow, though there was a lot of poverty on the streets. One of them in particular told me, “Cubans are like dolphins. We can have water up to our necks but still laugh.”
In Cuba, you can see how colonized the island is, especially in their capital, Havana (called Habana in Cuba). In addition to that, Cuba’s prominent revolutionist, Che Guevara, has his face mounted on just about every building, every car, and anywhere else you might go, even on the Cuban peso. They praise him as Cuba’s true leader, and learning more about him has really opened up my mind to Cuba’s fascinating history as well as traditions.
I discovered one of their festive traditions on New Year’s. Once the clock strikes twelve, the Cubans in the buildings above prepare water. With an abundant amount of buckets at hand, they pour the water on any misfortunate person walking on the streets. This is said to bring luck for the New Year. Because I didn’t know of this tradition, I was the first in my family to get drenched, but soon enough almost everyone was soaking. Some, like my sister, were running for their lives.
Although my experiences in Cuba were great, there was one thing that always failed to satisfy, and that was their food. Although they have very colorful dishes, we thought that even their best restaurants had bland food. When we asked where their famous Cuban sandwiches were, they looked at us blankly, never hearing of such a thing. Even for my food-loving family, the trip ended with all of us losing weight.
I had an unforgettable experience in Cuba; an experience that was like no other. Cuba has a rich culture, with music that just makes you want to get up and dance. Their famous Tropicana show, a world-known cabaret, represents Cuba’s true culture through their music and dance. When they took my brother and I up on stage and asked us where we were from, their faces lit up with both shock and joy. The lady on the stage looked at us and said, “We really hope that America and Cuba will have good relations in the future. After all, Cuba needs America and America needs Cuba.”