Habana Vieja (the old city of Havana) is a beautiful division of Havana with charming and charismatic people. Despite being one of the larger cities in Cuba, it did not feel like a tourist trap as one could expect in Rome or Paris.
Never once on the whole trip did I have a negative encounter with any of the people there, and everyone was so much more welcoming than I was ready for. On multiple occasions, people would just come up to our group and try to talk to us simply about where we were from and if we liked Cuba so far.
La Cabaña, built alongside Morro Castle, is a unique and unexpected site in Havana. The fortress itself has a lot of history behind it, but its location would also surprise many.
Being a foreigner in a country where you do not speak the language can be very intimidating. However, I must say that the Cuban people proved themselves to be some of the most welcoming, patient, and kind people with whom I have had the fortune of interacting.
We were greeted with such hospitality and joy that I will never forget the smiles on the faces of the Cuban people when they found out that our group was from America. “America!” a lovely waiter at the first restaurant we visited exclaimed, “Oh, I love Beyoncé!”
The day started with a classic car tour; the cars used were two Chevrolets and a Buick, all from the late 1950s and in amazing mechanical and physical repair.
I often felt a sense of constant motion, and I learned about the locals and their interesting culture. Specifically, many of the stores, restaurants, and homes kept their doors open during parts of the day to facilitate the collectivist culture.
While in Cuba, we worked on the Cristo Project. The Cristo project has the goal of creating a rest stop for an area underneath The Christ of Havana.
The second evening was spent at the Castillo de San Carlos de la Cabana, the largest fortress in Latin America, dating from the 18th century, which at the time made Havana the most heavily-fortified city in the New World.
My Cuban experience was definitely one that I will remember for the rest of my life. And it started off almost not happening in the first place.