Other Island Named Cuba The Other Island Named Cuba Getting ready for landing was a new experience this time. Although I have flown to many places on many different size planes, this landing was different. I could see the houses and buildings below. The cars and people were like ants moving around. This is actually the typical site from the window seat of any plane that is about to land.
To me it was very different. We were about to touch ground in Havana, Cuba. The place where my parents were born, raised and educated. This was also the place where my parents were married and had their first child, and also, the place they had to flee from in order to continue practicing their beliefs. I was arriving to my roots.
A place that my family hadn’t seen in forty years. I would be the first of my blood to set foot on that island since 1959. It is important to understand why my family fled their country while many others stayed behind. My Grandfather was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court during that time. His position and that of his family was in threat of political injustices from the Castro Regime.
In order to avoid this from occurring, my Grandfather had my family fly out first (at the time it was still possible without too much questioning) and then he was given political asylum in the Argentinean Embassy. Once the plane touched down I felt both excited and scared. In the passed I was told stories that if anyone of us ever visited Cuba, that there was danger of us being held prisoner because of who our parents and grandparents were. This obviously concerned me since my purpose for the travel was merely to have the opportunity to see where my roots were from. I was also concerned because I was traveling with my wife who is of British decent, and regardless of the fact that she speaks fluent Spanish, could also get in trouble just by being with me.
It was quite funny to see and hear people talking with the same accent and slang that I was brought up with. All I could think to myself was..’my God, this is where it all comes from My wife was also intrigued to hear the Cuban people express themselves. Once we were out on the tour bus and heading towards our hotel, it suddenly hit us.. we had traveled into the past. Every vehicle, building, street and sidewalk was either exactly the way it was forty years prior or in most cases, in a forty year deteriorated state. Nonetheless, it was amazing to see cars, trucks and busses of the 50’s traveling all around us.
It was like being in an old movie and we were the main characters. Once we arrived at our hotel, that image shifted slightly. Most touristic hotels are either new or refurbished to look new in order to attract tourism. The ironic.. no..
painful reality of all this, is that the Cuban citizens are not allowed to enter the premises of any hotel in Cuba. It doesn’t even end there. They are not even allowed to enter restaurants, bars, or nightclubs, regardless of whether they have U.S. currency or not. It’s just because they are Cuban. This to me was the absolute kick in the face. It’s like if one night I decided to go to TGIF in Miami (which is where I was born and raised) and they stopped me at the door (no courtesy included), and tell me that I should know better than to try and go into the restaurant..
that I should know that all US Citizens are barred from eating at a nice place. It is strictly for tourist he would say. Anyone listening to a story like that would think my elevator didn’t go to the top floor. Well, it is exactly that way in Cuba today and has been that way for about thirty to thirty-five years. This was not the reason for my traveling here. I was here to learn about MY roots, my people, and my family. By day two, we had met up with a very nice man by the name of Raul.
A friend of ours had given us a telephone number where we could contact him in order to hire him as a tour guide. He was genuinely grateful for thinking of him and allowing him to work for us in the few days we were there. Every Cuban person we met was genuinely grateful for just being kind to him or her. This was definitely a touching experience for us. We told Raul that although we were tourists, we were not in the mood to live the touristic ventures that the Castro government would prefer we did (for a fee of course.) We told Raul that we really wanted to know Cuba and how it really was. I wanted to visit my parents home to see where they grew up.
I also wanted to go to my mother’s school, where she studied as a young girl. I wasn’t interested in five star restaurants and hotels- 1 wanted to eat where the Cuban people ate. I wanted to live Cuba. We did exactly that and as difficult it is for me to say, the Cuban people are living in a misery that is far beyond what any tourist could imagine. This is why, depending on whom I spoke to, I would be led to believe that Cuba was in great shape and that the Cuban population lacked nothing.
Whereas, someone who has gone to visit a family member would tell me of all the misery. I was able to see both sides of the coin, and they are completely different. The tourists stick to tour guides and special events created and controlled by the government. Tourists would never have the chance to see the reality of Cuba. We did. I strongly feel that the world needs to see the truth of what is going on in Cuba and understand that a salary with the equivalence of $ 9.50 per month is impossible for a man to take care of his family. That the reason there are young girls by the hundreds between the ages of thirteen and eighteen walking the streets and selling their bodies, is not because they lack moral values, what they lack is food, clothing, soap, toilet paper, medicines and the list goes on.
The world needs to understand that the inhumanities and injustice & that is occurring in Cuba must not continue in o understand that the only way this will stop is if the world stops helping the problem rather than feed it. Tourism in Cuba is a scam created by the Cuban leaders who lead only for themselves and couldn’t care less about their people aide to Cuba force a change in the government. It is time that Cuba was given back to the Cubans. Speech and Communications.