It has now been about 1 week since I left Cuba and I am still processing everything that I got to experience and see on this intriguing island.
I knew that Cuba would be an adventure but I didn’t know what kind nor did I know to what extent. Some of these lessons could be learned in other parts of the world but for some reason, Cuba is where the click happened for me.
What Cuba Has Taught Me:
1. The Internet can be very useful but it is NOT indispensable
By now, I really thought that I would know this, but to be honest, being a blogger and working on several online projects makes me feel like I need to be constantly connected or reachable.
In Cuba, I quickly discovered that the internet was not going to be that easily accessible (if at all!). And so, I had to get really efficient with my time on the web (whenever, I did get access to it).
At first it was hard and frustrating.
The automatic and mundane little tasks became impossible. For example: simply grabbing your phone to check out the map to see if there was a bank nearby, or where to get food that was cheap yet tasty was no longer an option. That was a challenge, but as with every test, it taught me other ways to get what I needed.
My favorite? Simply asking the people around me! Not only did it force me to practice my Spanish (ahem- the little that I do know), it also allowed us to interact a lot more with the locals and other travelers.
I guess this is what traveling was like before the internet and wifi became available nearly everywhere.
It made me appreciate my time off-screen even more. So much so, that even now that I am back in an Internet-friendly zone, I consciously make the daily effort to have some off-screen time to do other things.
And it feels oh-so-good!
2. Reading is so much fun!
This one is probably going to sound absurd or even obvious to some of you. But the truth is that between work, social media and other every day tasks; finding the time and commitment to read a book has become extremely challenging.
However, in Cuba, it got much easier and I revived my love for reading… and even journaling!
Reading can be so relaxing. And yet depending on what you read, it can also teach you so much more, give you new ideas or awaken new interests deep within yourself!
Now that I am back from Cuba, I do my best to spend a good 1 hour reading every day. I put my phone on airplane mode to completely disconnect and have me-time, completely un-interrupted. You should try it!
3. Having access to healthy & affordable foods is such a privilege
Given the US embargo that Cuba was under for many years, a lot of foods and goods are simply still unavailable in the country. This was extremely noticeable in the technology, architecture, furniture, and cars that we encountered over there, but also and mainly the kind of foods we found.
Eating healthier foods on an affordable budget was rather difficult, if not impossible! We did manage to find a few healthy and cheaper options, but scarcity was a real issue.
After adjusting our tastebuds to what was available to eat on the island (based on our budgets too), it goes without saying that I was happy to come back to Mexico where healthy and tasty foods are found in abundance (and cheap!).
The Cubans do the best they can with what they have access to, and that reminded me of what a privilege it is to not only have access to delicious food but also to have a choice in what you put into your body.
You get to choose foods that nourish and feed your body. Not everyone has that prerogative…
4. Less is MORE and less brings more happiness & peace of mind
When you travel to Cuba for the first time, you may find yourself shocked at how few possessions and “stuff” the Cubans have. Yet, they live very happy lives (at least from what I saw and concluded – more on that later…).
I thought about it and I can see how possessing less can bring more peace of mind.
Indeed, with less stuff, you focus on other aspects of your life; such as building and maintaining healthy relationships, focusing more on your health & personal goals and having more fun based on your experiences. Not necessarily what you own.
There are fewer distractions.
To be honest, when I first got to La Havana, I did not like it at all. I thought that it lacked charm, or was still “under re-construction”.
Yet people looked completely fine with the state of their city; going about their daily business, completely unaffected.
By day 2, my opinion had already changed as I observed the Cubans more and realized just how relaxed and happy they seemed. Always chilling in public squares, on their front porch or on the streets; talking about the latest gossip or arguing about Baseball games.
One thing struck me more than the outside appearance of the buildings and the streets: people were interacting with each other A LOT more than in any other cities I had ever visited.
Everywhere we went, people gathered to play (dominoes for example), talk or simply joke around. And given that their basic needs are met by the government (they have rations for food and housing), there is not much disparity between people – hence less crime and more peace in general.
Cuba taught me: Make the most of what you do have and learn to preserve what you own instead of always wanting to upgrade and buy new things.
In Cuba, you will see old cars, old tube TVs that work just as brand new.
In conclusion, it was really fascinating to experience Cuba.
In the years to come, I am sure it will change very rapidly. In fact, they were already very busy renovating half the city of La Havana and I am sure this is only the beginning.
So, if you have the opportunity to get your plane ticket, I strongly urge you to visit this captivating country before capitalism takes its toll.
Thank you, beautiful Cuba for memorable life lessons.
Until we meet again… Sarah
RELATED ARTICLE: What’s On Your Bucket List (…And How to Check It Off)
Published with permission. “What Cuba Taught Me” article was originally published on: www.deliciouslyvibrant.com.
We’re looking for Guest Writers to join our contributor team! Do you have something to share? Click HERE to find out how.