Ally’s Vignette

On our first solo day in Havana, I ventured out by myself to go and walk around the city for a while. My goal this afternoon was not to go out and explore the city or to practice Spanish, it was to finish my college housing application. I walked down the Malecón and ended up on a bench at the back of the Hotel Nacional, with a beautiful view of the ocean and began writing my essays. I sat there writing for a while, until a very drunk Cuban man came over to me and another woman asking where I was from and then yelling “Don’t believe everything they tell you, Delaware! Communism is bad!” The man continued for a while, also addressing the woman next to me with similar remarks. He eventually left and then before I knew it, I was an hour deep into a conversation with the Cuban woman sitting next to me. Our conversation began by her expressing her upset over the comments the man was saying and then developed into stories about her life and passions. She was born in Cuba, but had spent years traveling and living throughout Canada, Europe, and the US. She was passionate about dance (a common theme throughout Cuba) and told me all about her favorite dancer, Isadora Duncan. She loved music as well, and we talked a lot about older American bands including The Eagles and The Temptations. She loved this older music because it spreads messages of peace and love, which she said is something that is important to spread to today’s world. We talked for more than an hour until I had to leave to grab some quick dinner from the corner store before our group meeting. I left feeling excited about and grateful for our conversation and everything I learned from this woman. Hearing her thoughts on Cuba and the freedoms that Cuban people have versus people in the US made me think a lot about the culture I had been living in for 2 months. The faces of the people in the Cuban streets are so bright that at times the struggles of this country have been hidden from me. This woman made me see that while everyone in Cuba does not lead a seamless life, they do all have one powerful aid: connection. Throughout my other travels it has never been this easy to connect to people and learn from everyone you meet. Simply sitting and sharing stories with one woman made me feel so connected to this country and made me understand it more. Since then, the ability to connect and have constant interactions with people throughout Cuba has made me appreciate this place so much more and made it even harder to leave. I began to learn the true power and importance of the connection that pumps through the community here and how it has changed my experiences in this country.

-Ally DeVito