Sunday, 23 September 2012

OUR TRIP TO HAVANA


Today, sat in my garden, drinking a freshly made, hot coffee, I remember my days in Havana.  An enormous city!  I am used to my town, where everything is relatively close by, I had an idea that it was immense, but the reality almost always surpasses the imagination.

Havana’s buses!!!!....I had heard so many stories, mostly of theft and of the quantity of people that travel on them, I dreaded the idea of riding on one.  But I had to get on this type of transport if I wanted to arrive at each of the places the children wanted to visit in good time, I must confess that I clung onto my bag with dear life!  How silly!  After a few days of having seen my friend, now used to living in Havana for more than 5 years, capable of sleeping on the bus whilst a young man is singing in the centre of the bus and at the other extreme, a man asking for money so he can have something to eat, and others shouting at a passerby walking down the street, I realised that my fears were exaggerated.  

On one occasion, after running half a block we managed to catch the bus and in my effort to raise the children onto the bus, then myself with my bag glued to my chest, I didn’t realise that I pushed into a woman.  She rapidly and angrily said to me ‘hey, we are people, not animals, don’t push me!’  Off course I apologised and replied ‘Honey, if you don’t want to get pushed around, then take a taxi!’.  This lady kept talking, but I was not listening, I was surprised with my reaction, I had only been there for 3 days and already I was just as stressed as any other ordinary Havanero, that has to take the bus each and every morning and afternoon for work.  So I looked at my husband and we smiled at each other.  Only at this moment could I understand just how difficult it is for these people to go backwards and forwards on the buses on a daily basis.

I was only on holiday, which I enjoyed very much and most of all I didn’t lose anything, I only won, I got to know another way of life for us Cubans.  Respect to them!  This city is over populated, with its diversity of races and religions that make Havana a wonderfully quirky and awesome city.  And now from the comfort of my home I can remember fondly of these experiences and continue to be grateful for living in a city as beautiful, quiet and safe as Trinidad.

Cuba is beautiful in its entirety, but nothing like I have here with the mixture of gulls and mockingbirds, I'm near the sea and the mountains and most of all I DO NOT need buses.

Anonymous

Hoy, sentada en mi jardín, tomando un café caliente y recién hecho, recuerdo mis días en la Habana. Una ciudad enorme! Yo, acostumbrada a mi pueblo donde todo está relativamente cerca, tenía una idea de su inmensidad, pero la realidad casi siempre supera la imaginación.
¡Las guaguas de la habana!!!... Había escuchado tantas historias, sobre todo de robos y la cantidad de personas que entraban en ellas, que me aterraba la idea  de montar en una. Pero tuve  que acudir a ese tipo de transporte si quería llegar en tiempo a los sitios que los niños querían visitar, confieso que me aferraba al bolso como a mi propia vida, !que tonta!  Después de varios días y ver como mi amiga que a  vivido en la capital por mas de cinco años, es capas de quedarse dormida mientras en el centro de la guagua cantaba un chico y en el otro extremo un señor pedía algo de dinero para comer, y otros le gritaban a un transeúnte que caminaba por la acera, me di cuenta que mis temores eran exagerados. En una ocasión después de correr media cuadra logramos coger una y en mi esfuerzo por subir a los niños y luego yo, con mí bolso pegado a mi pecho, no me di cuenta y empujé a una mujer, esta rápidamente me dice  muy enfadada “ oiga aquí hay personas, no animales, no me empuje” Yo claro pedí disculpas y dije “cariño, si no quieres que te empujen toma un taxi” esta señora siguió hablando, pero yo ya no la escuchaba, me quede sorprendida con mi reacción, solo llevaba tres días allí y ya estaba tan estresada como cualquier habanero de a pie, de los que tienen que coger guaguas cada mañana y cada tarde para el trabajo, entonces miré a mi esposo y sonreímos, solo en ese momento comprendí lo difícil que se hacía para estas personas el diario ir y venir, Yo, yo solo estaba de vacaciones, las que disfruté muchísimo y sobre todo, no perdí nada, solo gané, púes conocí otra forma de vida de nosotros los cubanos ¡mis respetos para ellos!
  Esta ciudad está sobre poblada, su diversidad de rasas y religión hacen de la Habana una urbe peculiar y maravillosamente increíble  y  en la distancia, ahora desde la tranquilidad de mi casa, solo  recuerdo con cariño esas vivencias y sigo agradeciendo el vivir en una ciudad tan hermosa, tranquila y segura como Trinidad.
Cuba es bella en su totalidad, pero nada como la mezcla que tengo aquí de gaviotas y sinsontes, estoy cerca del mar y del monte y sobre todo NO necesito guaguas.

Anonimo



Tuesday, 18 September 2012

COMMENTS | EXPERIENCE THE REAL CUBA

Katie and Fi spent a couple of week with us, Experience The Real Cuba, in Trinidad, Learning Spanish in Cuba, living in a Casa Particular and having Salsa lessons. If you are unsure about whether to come to Trinidad or if you are curious to see whether they enjoyed their experience in Cuba, check out Katie's comments.  Hopefully this will make up your mind.

Thanks to Katie for sharing with us her experience in Cuba.

COMMENTS | EXPERIENCE THE REAL CUBA

Katie and Fi having a ball in Trinidad, Cuba

Sunday, 9 September 2012

IS CUBA SAFE?


I often get asked this question, especially from the parents of students about to go to Cuba and in my opinion it is the safest country I have ever visited.

Before going to Cuba I had this vision that crime was ubiquitous in Cuba, I’m not sure where I got this idea from, but I have noticed that many people, before knowing Cuba, think the same.

Upon arriving into Cuba for the first time, I felt nervous, but I soon realised that I didn’t need to be.  Walking the streets of Cuba, you obviously feel disorientated, but as soon as you get used to your surroundings, you couldn’t feel safer.  All you have to do is sit down on a park bench, people watch and you will discover how fascinating it is.  If you’re lucky someone will join you on the park bench and before long you are comparing stories and putting the world to rights.

Cubans are not very aggressive; they are generally a happy go lucky bunch, you don’t find gangs of youths with a menacing presence, instead they are listening to music, laughing and joking or paying a compliment (piropo) to whomever walks by.  It’s not a violent country; no-one has access to guns or other lethal weapons.

Saying that, as with any place in the world, you should always be street wise and be aware of your surroundings.  I’m not a woman with many material possessions, but what little I do have, I don’t like to flaunt it.  I often go to Cuba with as little as possible so I can at least try and blend in with the crowd.  

I have heard of other people losing belongings, for example, I met a Dutch girl who lost her mobile phone on the overnight Viazul bus from Santiago de Cuba to Trinidad.  We were all sleeping, it was very dark, but I remember this girl leaving her bag wide open on the floor in the gangway, obviously not a wise thing to do in any country.   

Another guy I met, told me that he was out late at night in Havana, completely pissed, on his own, walking the streets, when he got mugged by a group of youngsters.  For some reason he had all his worldly possessions on him; his mobile phone, his passport, all his travellers’ cheques, cash, credit cards, camera etc.  They weren’t violent but they took advantage of his drunkenness and helped themselves.  He was so pissed he was unable to stop them.  

There is no need to go out at night with all your worldly possessions, leave it in your hotel or casa particular, it is far safer there.  All you need is some cash for the evening and a copy of your passport, why do you need to be bogged down with anything else for a night out on the town!