Perspective | Havana, Cuba | Travelspective

A love letter to Cuba.

Dear Cuba,

We’ve always known that being able to travel is a privilege, and this trip to your country has reminded us of that. You’re going through a very interesting time where people are excited to come explore your shores, and ironically, so many Cubans have never been granted permission to travel or have the means to do so. You have been isolated for so many years, and now with the internet becoming more and more accessible, we met people curious to know what lies beyond your borders and where you exist in the midst of everything.

You’ve become the new ‘it’ place to discover with mentions to go before you ‘change.’ The interesting thing is that you’re already, and have been, changing from the preconceived notion of what most people around the world think of you. You’re not exactly the same Communist Cuba we heard about where everyone is living the same and no one can make more than what is given. Your economy is much more complicated than that. There is a spirited new generation that has emerged that wants more for their lives and are willing to work for it. They just wanted the opportunity, and now that it has been made legal, entrepreneurs have sprouted small businesses across Havana.

One of the benefits of the revolution was the benefit of free education. That being said, we met so many people who had gone to university, graduated with master’s degrees and spoke multiple languages. Many seemed to have a zest for learning, but were not afforded viable jobs within the disciplines they studied in school. They either work as a doctor, engineer or teacher and make a substandard salary, or get a job in tourism, waiting tables and driving taxis, but have the opportunity to make more money. Tourism is what is affording people a chance at having more in life. More money and more of an opportunity to engage with foreigners.

We hope the visitors who come realize the privilege they have of being able to travel to your country and share knowledge and information. Not just vacation there, but be sensitive to the fact that you are experiencing and learning new things from the visitors who come. We hope they are mindful. It’s a two-way exchange, not just mojitos and cigars. Take the time to engage with people and have a conversation. Remain aware that a vast majority of the locals have not had the opportunity to travel and experience the world as you have. Going to Cuba is an experience, and people should temper their expectations and not forget it’s an island with 3 million people currently welcoming 2 million visitors a year. You’re much larger than other Caribbean nations, but to take on what is estimated to be an additional 3 million tourists with Americans getting ready to make their way, you have much to do to prepare for this level of tourism.

Now that there is a call to lift the embargo, we hope that Americans will not only start bringing tourism to you but lend its access to information and ideas on infrastructure to help better Cuba. We hope that Cubans will be afforded opportunities to build something great in your country, as they are proud to be Cuban, but don’t want to feel isolated anymore from circumstances of the past that they had no part in. In the midst of your transition, we hope that everyone who visits your country will walk away with the sentiment of rhythmic ‘tranquila’ that stirs in your streets. And above all, we hope people will see you with more than their eyes, but with their hearts as well.

– The Travelspective Team