#LiveRi¢h Travel Adventures: Havana, Cuba
I developed a love for travel when I was 10. I'd been awarded a merit scholarship to a private school called "Friends". There I could take fun new courses that that they didn't offer at my elementary public school-- classes like Spanish. I was only in the 6th grade, but I quickly came to realize how easily I took to it. My love for language and culture continued to flourish in high school where I decided to double-up on my lingustics courses and picked up French for 4 years as well. After I graduating from high-school my interest in other cultures carried through to college, where I decided to major in International Business (with a Minor in Spanish).
I've always loved the idea of learning new languages as a way to connect with the world; but the music of the world is what has always charmed me the most. You don't have to understand what's being said, you just have to feel it. This was the case the first time I listened to music by The Buena Vista Social club. There was so much about their music that would point to me not being interested in their songs; after all, what could a bunch of old Cuban men possibly have to sing about that a 15 year old black girl from Baltimore would relate to? To be honest, nothing really. But the music was so beautiful and heartfelt that I wanted to experience the kind of love and passion they sang about. While I would listen to their music I would picture what the island of Cuba was like: the colors, the smells, the food, and the people.
As a Spanish speaking Nigerian-American (even though it wasn't my native language), I hadn't seen any Hispanic people who looked like me-- dark skinned with kinky hair, and dark colored eyes. In all my young ignorance, prior to my interest in the Buena Vista Social Club I didn't even know that Afro-Latinas existed. After I found out about the Buena Vista Social Club and started research of the history of Cuba and the Cuban people, I was surprised to see people who looked like me! Not only this, but I learned that there was even a group of Yoruba people in Cuba-- people who belonging to the same tribe as my Nigerian parents! My people! With this discovery I learned that there were many Spanish speaking countries with people that shared my complexion and features. As a young girl, this revelation blew my mind and placed a special love for Cuba in my heart.
Having early aspirations to travel, you can imagine my disappointment once I learned that travel to Cuba was prohibited by the government. So I held on to my dream of one day visiting Old Havana until the day that things changed. Thankfully they did with Obama, and last year I was able to check La Habana off of my bucket list!
The only thing that could make the experience sweeter, was taking the trip with the one person who (for the past decade) has made my life sweeter, my Hubbae, Nick. Luckily he had a couple of weeks off of work for paternity leave.... So we so that opportunity to take parental leave, and have a little #LiveRich adventure of our own!
We were traveling on a budget, so we didn't go all out and experience Cuba in the luxurious ways that you may typically see, but we had a blast. We opted to do a home-stay rather than book a hotel room, took the bus and traveled like locals instead of using fancy tourist taxis, and we spoke with lots of the people about their experiences as Cuban citizens (verses the stigma that Cuba is given). The best part of the trip was definitely the local interactions and our "casa particular" hosts-- they really made us feel at home and we still communicate with them, even now!
Of course I wouldn't travel without documenting the experience, so hit the play button and check out my Cuba Travel Vlog and a few pics below!
ps: If you're inspired to visit Cuba or considering planning a trip, head over and SUBSCRIBE to my channel! I put together a couple of Video Travel Guides with information you should know beforehand- Part 1: Preparing For Your Trip to Cuba & Part 2: Q&A What to Expect Once In Cuba. Check it out and enjoy!
#LiveRi¢h and Happy Dream Chasing!
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