How I danced through Cuba

You may ask yourself why someone would choose to travel to an island in the Caribbean that is ruled by a communist regime, seemingly stuck in a time capsule with little to no communication to the outside world. Yes, a holiday in a country with a confusing dual currency, rationed food, and little or no internet may not sound like comfort, but oh boy is your opinion going to change after my first-hand experience.

When I arrived in Cuba I quickly discovered where its beauty lies. Like a heady mojito, a delicious mix of Caribbean flavors combined with the nostalgia of yesteryears, the magic lies in its resilience.

In the evenings the city plazas filled up with traditionally dressed locals that swung to the music, laughing and playing children, old grannies that quietly watched the world go by from their crumbling colonial residences. I enjoyed cruising in the iconic classic cars past images of Ché & Fidel through the streets of La Habana while observing its proud people going through daily rigors. The Revolution, as Fidel once said, is not yet over.

t sunset, I would sit on the Malecon waterfront and listen to the rhythms of salsa and tapping feet as a group of locals’ right behind me was dancing their blues away. A young Cubano invited me to dance, and at first, I was hesitant and felt like a beginner compared to everyone around me but as we moved our feet around, he smoothly led me into the dance. In this moment the rhythm of Salsa took over and just like that, I experienced the real Cuban way of life!

In the following weeks, I traveled through Cuba’s beautiful countryside and gazed at sugarcane & tobacco plantations, I walked through historic cities with marvelous Spanish colonial architecture and visited refurbished museums and bookstores. But my favorite was dancing at every Casa de la Musica and taking Salsa lessons at a local club. I stayed with locals and drank more mojitos than I can remember. I swam in emerald green waters at beaches with white sand and unspoiled natural beauty and met friendly locals who improved my Spanish with patience and ease.

I can definitely say that Cuba was a magical experience and that now is the best time to go and see for yourself before things change! It’s like no place else on earth! Viva Cuba! Viva la Revolution!

Justine Mfulama,

May 21, 2017

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