I have now been back in the United States for two weeks. Some days I wake up and am still shocked to be in my bed at home and other days it feels like a dream that I went at all. I have never been in a country for so long and understood so little of what happens there.
The student that had originally invited us on the bus burst into a very impressive rendition of a popular Reggaeton song. At this point the girl sitting next to me began doing the “ola,” similar to the American “wave” but with some variation.
As a visitor to this country I can say that I am perfectly fine with Cuban families building sand castles on the beach. Having police cars honk at me and officers make advances in the street is what actually bothers me.
Cubans grow up appreciating art, literature, films, music and shows because their parents appreciate them and are able to expose their children to them at an early age. These things have become elitist in the United States because only the wealthy can afford to enjoy them.
I have taken several weekend trips with my student group while in Cuba. Most recently we went to Santiago, where we also spent a day in Guantanamo, and two weeks before that we went to Cienfuegos and Trinidad.
It seems to me that the only thing holding Cuban women back is Cuban men’s machista attitude. Cooking or cleaning does not emasculate a man; it just shows his desire to make his wife’s life a little easier.
Six weeks ago I went to the beach with four American friends and there met three Cuban men who play for one of Cuba’s national sports teams. Since then we have gone out with them several times, and on several occasions we have been stopped by the police while with them.
During my first year at Northeastern University I had a Cuban-American roommate, my first experience with any sort of Cuban culture. Her parents had left Cuba when they were two years old, and she and her sisters had grown up in Miami. Her father owned a very successful chain of Cuban restaurants in Florida.