The Colors of Cuba

Travel blog for Fam and Friends 🙂 So far, loving Havana-ooh-na-na 💃🏻 Cuba is everything you see in the pictures and so much more.. wrinkled old men puffing cigars in narrow doorways, bright-colored, antique, mafia-looking cars with dice and rosaries hanging from the rear-view mirror 🚗, motorbikes 🛵with side cars piled with entire families, faded rainbow-colored buildings, amazing acoustic live music everywhere 🎶, singing and dancing in the streets, lots of trash and dirty cracked, crumbled walls surrounded by palm trees, the bluest sky and bright pink and red flowers. Did I mention colorful? And it is a different kind of HOT.. August in Cuba is pretty much an inferno... the sun feels like it’s actually cooking my flesh. I’ve seen many people walking with umbrellas to hide from it. I haven’t been staying in a toursty area (on a super tight budget) and so far I’m spending about $8 a day on food, transportation, and an occasional mojito.. I got a whole weeks worth of organic produce for $8.. including the best avo I’ve ever tasted. At first it was hard to tell where to buy things because everyone seems to sell one or two items from their house or they are walking down the street with a basket full of papayas shouting/singing about it. I saw a sign for “arroz”, and heard a woman ordering “dos libras”.. so I copied her and ordered “una libra”.. and the guy starred at me and asked where he was supposed to put it. So, now I know I have to bring my own bag or container... noted! My first dinner was a can of artichokes and a banana because that’s all I could find. Haha... I’m getting around like a local in the shared cars, basically hitch-hiking for 30 cents a ride and squeezing into a beat up antique car with 5 other people and getting off whenever it feels right. I found there’s a system... when waving down a car, make sure it’s not a regular taxi, and point down if going locally, up if going far, or right or left depending on the layout of the situation. And of course, I am the subject of many stares and get a lot of questions as a solo white female tattooed traveler... mostly smiles and a friendly reminder to be careful and watch my phone/money. As soon as I start speaking in Spanish & tell them I grew up next door in DR, I see their brow soften into a slightly less worried form. Everyone is super friendly and wants to help. The money is confusing here, I finally got it down after a few days. There are two types of pesos.. literally two different $10 and $20 peso bills that are worth wayyyy different amounts. Luckily the guy who picked me up for my first day at the music school gave me a lesson. I took a bicycle tour of the city yesterday and made a new friend who is helping me with anything I need. I have no phone or internet, except about once a day for a half hour at a park near by. They have a WiFi antenna and the whole neighborhood sits around on their phones and laptops using it while kids kick soccer balls around. I only got hit with one so far. Guitar lessons have really kicked my butt.. I’m so excited and overwhelmed with all the new information. I’ve been playing for 12 years and now I feel like an awkward baby deer trying to walk for the first time. Marcos went to school for music for 12 years and has never left Cuba.. he doesn’t speak English so as I had hoped for, my lessons double as Spanish classes. I’m staying away from the touristy areas and party scene.. I’m here to learn and immerse myself. A couple days ago, I wrote my first song in Spanish using the Cuban “Son” rhythm.. while drinking a frozen daiquiri at a cute restaraunt.. I sang the whole thing into my phone 🎶❤️✨😃 I deff need to have mi professor proof read and check my grammar before I play it in public. Last night I went to a little beach town, jumped in a natural pool, met a bunch of locals that fed me rum and a group of 15 year old boys were trying really hard to make plans with me.. super cute, and half my age.. these Cuban boys are smooth and shameless. Even if I say que tengo novio, they say “pero no tienes novio Cubano”. The constant hissing and comments is something I definitely did not miss about living in the Carribean. My Airbnb hostess was a cute 28 year old pregnant girl with tattoos, she taught me how to prepare yuca.. one of my fave things to eat growing up. Today I took the most crowded bus I’ve ever been on to the most crowded beach I’ve ever been to, Playa Del Este.. on a Sunday.. should have known! The water was clear and blue, dudes walking around selling hats and fresh cocos with rum, kids kicking sand in the windy air and their padres apologizing to me with their eyes. I swam around while a nice “abuelita” watched my bag, then got lunch (arroz y habichuela con tostones) for $1.25. They didn’t have any utensils and I was confused about how I was supposed to eat it.. but i looked around and noticed a guy broke off a corner of the styrofoam container and was scooping it into his mouth.. so resourceful. I took the sardine-bus back to Habana for 30 cents. Now I need to practice guitar for my lesson tomorrow morning. It’s been interesting running my Hawaii Airbnb without internet or phone, luckily I have Kai co-hosting while I’m gone and the best cleaner ever, Tara holding down the fort. 🙏🏼 American credit/debit cards don’t work here, nor can I log into any of my financial accounts online.. so I am rationing what little cash I have. I’m enjoying it actually.. realizing how spoiled we are to have credit cards and instant gratification even when we can’t afford it in the US. I love how simple life is here.. a little crazy at first but I’m finding there’s a lot of method to the madness. Cuba is not commercialized at all.. no billboards and ads, seems there’s only one brand of everything which makes shopping easy, no “fast food” and very little processed food. It truly feels like going back in time... I feel very happy and alive, out of my comfort zone and growing a lot. I wanna take music lessons in a new country every year. 👊🏼 thanks for reading!! ❤️

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Kimberly June