I’ve just arrived back from one of the most amazing countries (that I have been to) – Cuba. Never did I expect so much thought provocation to come from a place that I had previously perceived as worn, down in the dumps and unsafe. Although I was beyond excited for my trip, I had my apprehensions. As one of the last standing communist countries, Cuba is unfortunately very poor and neglected in terms of infrastructure and institutions. However, you should not pity the Cubans because their attitude towards life is anything but woeful.
Cuba earns a vast amount of its finances through the production of Rum and cigars (of course) as well as other industries, including tourism. After the 1990s, tourism began to flourish among the beautiful beaches of Varadero, the Cubans cottoned on to the idea and began to move to the area to live and to work.
One thing that you cannot strip from an honest Cuban is their resilient attitude towards work. I noticed in the hotel where we stayed, on the beach where we relaxed, in the local town where we explored, in the taxis where we travelled and in the city of Havana where we roamed, that a strong work ethic did not waver among a lot of Cuban folk. Due to their determination to make a living wage, I found myself in awe of the constant offers that we received in order to assist us as well as the other tourists. Don’t get me wrong, an absence of naivety helped me to understand that this is the case is most tourist locations where the locals are financially unstable – they need to make a living wage and they know that tourists have money to spend.
However, the trip gave me an opportunity to examine a variation of personalities through the people that I came into contact with or simply watched walk by. I watched the world pass and truly felt the beauty of other people and how they lived their lives.
I remember one afternoon seeing a hotel worker traipsing up the dirt road towards the hotel in the furious heat, in preparation for his bar shift whilst we passed by in an air conditioned taxi. The expression on his face almost displayed pain and exhaustion. Shortly after, I saw this man working around the hotel, serving the guests without any apprehension or worry, just happiness. He was unaware of the exposure I had received that allowed me to see his deeper, more personal emotions. Not only did it make me appreciative for my own situation, but it helped me to truly see the extent of the determination that Cuban people possess.
I felt like taking pictures enabled me to capture these moments in a way that words could not, so I’ll post these shortly to further my thoughts.
Reflection is a wonderful thing.