Saturday, May 1, 2010

Cuban Memory

Havana, Cuba
May 1, 2009

One year ago today I was in Cuba, getting ready to head back to the Bahamas. I’ve always wanted to go to Cuba and the trip lived up to my expectations. We met awesome, humble people who hooked us up and showed us all around.
 We ate delicious food, played at beaches, and traveled back in time as we rode in classic cars and stayed in colonial buildings with brightly colored chipping paint. Brad was offered cigars after meals and we visited a cuban cigar "farm".
It was an adventure from the moment we stepped on the loud, old plane to Cuba to when Brad was almost left at the Havana airport to wait 3 days for the next flight back to the Bahamas.

In Havana we had Hemmingway's favorite mint mojitos, virgin of course, while listening to one of the original members of the Buena Vista Social Club perform. We treated our friend Paolo to Capellia's famous ice cream, which he informed us we overpaid for ($3, his month's salary). We enjoyed evenings walking out along the malecón, getting splashed by big waves and watching the thousands of Cubans out on the streets. We tried to participate in the Cuban past-time going to the cinema, but those latin films always get too steamy. We traveled to Valle de Viñales and visited caves which we were told were used as a hideout by Che during the revolution.

We visited the Gato Tuerco night club and heard an amazing Cuban singer while suffering through insane secondhand smoke. We went to the Capital, but couldn't find Fidel. When Brad had too much of museums, cathedrals, and ferias we would go to the beach.
Our trip to Trinidad and Cienfuegos was one of my favorite parts of the trip, so charming.

Cuba is where Brad and I fell in love. We were dating before, but not too seriously, which is why we felt okay about planning a friend trip for my graduation. On this trip we really got to know each other. We had our first argument; we had our first argument resolution. We caught a glimpse of one another’s differences. I noted how Brad didn’t have any sisters and obviously wasn’t used to traveling with girls. He noted how big of an obsession I really had with chocolate. 

As we rode in the back of a taxi from Trinidad to Havana I had one of those moments where life just seemed perfect. There was a warm evening breeze and were passing beautiful, tropical landscapes. Cuban music played softly in the background and I felt so happy to be sitting next to Brad. I realized that I loved Brad. I felt it so strongly and wanted to tell him, I wondered if he felt the same way. Good thing he did! Our relationship went from slow motion to fast forward after the trip. It only took Brad a week home before he flew me to NYC and proposed.

One thing I learned on my trip is that you can travel to Cuba with no plans because everyone there is anxious to connect you with someone who can hook you up with whatever you're looking for. (Being able to speak Spanish makes it easy)

The trip was awesome, but if/when I go back to Cuba this is what I'll do next time:
-be there with my husband
-have more time there
-buy more souvenirs
-switch $ to Euros or pounds beforehand and bring plenty of cash
-visit Cayo Largo
-have a good Cuban book to read during the trip
-go Salsa Dancing, every night.
-visit the mountains with waterfalls/pools above Trinidad
-visit Varadero and go parasailing or ride horses on the beach

Oh yeah- The Bahamas was beautiful too, although the culture wasn't as quite as intriguing. My favorite thing was Brad sneaking us into the fancy Atlanis hotel's private beaches and pools. (and snorkeling at Shark's Cove and going to church there and getting my hair weaved, OK-we had a blast there too!)

I wrote in my journal: "Since Brad is having a hard time traveling with girls I let him get away with boy stuff back in the Bahamas- we ate burgers at Johnny Rockets (yuck), watched b-ball, and the office/30 rock." I must have really liked him because those aren't my ideal vacation activities, but I missed him soo much when he left.
After he left we spent time at the beach, ate indian food, shopped at the market, took a boat ride to a private beach and gulligan's island, and *almost* went dancing. Even though me and Tamara did some awesome, guilt-free girly things it wasn't nearly as fun without Brad. (We didn't realize it at the time, but I consider that my bachelorette party- best one ever!) :)


LL said...

WOW!!!! Those pictures are amazing. What a beautiful part of the world.
I'm beginning to think you've traveled more in the last 2 years than most people do in a lifetime.
Lucky girl. Where's the next trip?

Katie Hagen said...

i don't think i'll be using my passport this year, that's why i'm just enjoying what we did last year! :)
we're going with the fam to ketchikan in july, i think some of your lewis clan is probably coming?


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