Black and abroad: In Havana, Cuba... A reflection

 Black and abroad... In Cuba

Black and abroad... In Cuba

Has there ever been a time when everything you have ever thought to be true, turns out to be flipped upside down from just one experience?  Its as if it comes racing toward you out of nowhere and you have no choice but to sit back, and listen.

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I had this experience recently.  It was not on purpose, it was not by chance, but it was exactly on time.  Only those closest to me can completely understand just how busy my life has become on the daily.  From working as a fulltime teacher, college student, and business owner I sometimes have no energy left over for myself; let alone someone else.  Because of this I shut down often, put my phone on do not disturb, and attempt to sit in silence.  This silence is where I find my inner peace through recharging.

Cuba changed how I view “work.”

Casa Blanca

When I think about my trip to Cuba, I think about how electrifying the country was to my internal charging process.  The culture did that and more, despite living 4 days without telephone and internet access.  I learned most of my struggles are intertwined with that constant access, continuation of noise and distractions, and personal feelings toward misfortune and development.  Our access to technology and advancement has forced us all to work tirelessly to achieve an American dream that few reach.  We spend much of our life aiming to “level up” and increase our economic wealth.  We sometimes work ourselves to death.

My passion and life path, was confirmed in Cuba.  I had some great conversations about They Never Told, sexual assault, and the black family with some individuals that were intriguing.  This is a topic that is starting to be talked about more on the island, as well as gender issues.  It felt good to discuss important topics and ways to advocate across the world.  

Capitalism has aided in the downfall of the black community.

 "Tourist Row"

"Tourist Row"

I have always been aware of, and looked at the negative consequences of capitalism and how it has affected us as a people in the United States.  It has forced us to move from having a traditional community based mindset to viewing life through an individualistic lens.  This life of living in a developed country has created a pathway to debt, depression, comparison, and the constant desire for “more.”  We have become so busy working to pay bills and “get ahead” that we have no energy left for those things that matter most: Community.

I was slightly anxious regarding the fact I wouldn’t have consistent and reliable access to phone and internet.

Before traveling to Cuba I did extensive research on what to expect, what to do and not do, and explorative experiences with native Cubans.  During that research, I learned more about the limited access to technology.  Before leaving, I was excited to tune out from the world but I didn’t know what to expect at the same time. 

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Living without consistent access was honestly one of the best things that could’ve happened to me at this time of my life.  I didn’t have to logout or “deactivate” an account in order to disconnect… life gave me something better… NO ACCESS!  Because of the lack of access to “social” media, I watched teens, as they were forced to have interpersonal conversations with each other.  Instead of being glued to their ipad or television, kids were encouraged to play games outside with each other.  Instead of running in the house and locking the doors, homeowners left their doors open and conversed with their neighbors.  Instead of headphones and constant touch screen scrolling, people held hands and talked while on dates.

The simple things are what matter at the end of the day.

flowers

I will not speak for everyone, but for me, I have to constantly remind myself to smell the flowers when I find myself more focused with how many I have.  Experiencing a primarily collectivist society (strong focus on group instead of individual) is welcoming.  What I loved most was their pride of being African at the core.  The continuation of traditions and community morals has been passed down from generation to generation.  A legacy that lives…. I am very thankful and connected, I felt at home.

 

Who are we really?

                                                                          While in Cuba, we spent our time with the Cuban people.  We spent that time exploring, visiting museums, fellow-shipping with families, and living among the people in the community.  My favorite experience was making Soap while exploring the Afro-Cuban home and religion.  During this process we received an introductory lesson of the Yoruba tradition.  This tradition was, and is still practiced among millions of people around the world.  Principles of Yoruba, can be found within modern day organized religions.  This religion left me with a hunger to learn more!  Who are we really, outside of Kemet, before slavery, and among the entire continent of Africa.  

Nature knows best.

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We are a spiritual and intuitive people.  Follow your heart, vibes, and stay connected with life itself.  By living in this simplicity, we are able to find inner peace and daily sacrifice.  From this point on, I promise myself to take my time in nature serious.  Smell the air, feel the grass, and watch the butterflies… The answers to our questions, are often found here. Cuba did that, plus more.

Not very expensive!

Since so many people asked, I want to give a quick focus on the cost of traveling to Havana, Cuba.  This trip is way less expensive than you would expect at first!  I was traveling from Memphis, TN and my Bestfriend traveled from Detroit.

Memphis flight: $550 (Delta) purchased 2 weeks before trip ($375 6 months prior)

Detroit Flight: $237 (Delta) purchased one month before trip

Housing: Our housing totaled $175 for 3 nights.  We stayed at an Air BnB which provided great accommodations.  

Spending money: I spent less than $400 while there.  The biggest thing is to stay away from tourist attractions.  Live, eat, and travel amongst the people to get the full experience.  Our taxis were equivalent to $1 when traveling with the people vs. $15 when calling a taxi.  Meals at large restaurants will be about $20 each, Meals with local restaurants will be around $5-7.  Our experiences weren't expensive either.  Off Air BnB we did a Bike City Tour, Soap Making Class, and took a Salsa lesson.  We purchased our experiences prior to going.

As a reminder, your credit and debit cards do not work in Cuba, so you have to bring cash. We exchanged our Dollars to Euros, then when we arrived in Cuba exchanged our Euros for Cuban Pesos.  If you exchange US Dollars, there is an extra fee.

Soap making

Prep: Honestly, go with an open mind.  Erase your preconceived notions of life, how it should be, and expectations.  Go with the mindset of learning, and you will not be disappointed.  Make sure to subscribe to my page here, if you haven't already!