“Cuba” by Simona Makovska (Slovakia)

What is the first thing that pops in your mind when you hear Cuba?

Is it salsa? Rum? Cigars?  Communism? Or hot Cubans?

For me, Cuba means freedom. Let me elaborate on such controversial statement of mine.

A year ago I was fortunate enough to get an internship at Slovak embassy in Havana and thanks to that I could spend 3 most fascinating and mind changing months of my life on this wonderful island.  I lived with a Cuban family and because I spoke Spanish, I fairly easily started hanging out with a group of young Cubans.

Menu at eco pharm in Vinales

With my beloved friends during the celebration of the 162nd birth anniversary of Cubas independence hero Jose Marti

How did that happen?

One day, when standing in the line in front of a club, a girl looked at me and said: “Hey, you are beautiful!” And I replied: “Hey, you are beautiful too!” And this spontaneous reaction marked the beginning of an extraordinary friendship that opened the door for me to real Cuban life. She introduced me to her friends and ever since that night, we were inseparable.

They took me to their homes and taught me so much about their life, society and culture that I can never thank them enough. All of them were extremely intelligent, highly educated, charismatic and very curious about life outside of Cuba.

I have spent almost every day with them wandering the old streets of Havana, dancing in vivid salsa clubs, attending live concerts or just chilling by the ocean underneath the stars with a tetrapack of rum in our hands and I regard it as the most gracious and genuine time with friends I have ever had.

What living in Cuba taught me and why you should go to Cuba? Let me try to convince you.

First of all – there is NO internet. Can you imagine a life without internet? It’s absolutely liberating!
You wake up in the morning and your first attempt is not blindly locate your phone to check all your emails, Facebook or news. You open your eyes, hear the birds singing, take a shower, go to the nearest street market to buy some papaya and go to work.
Without internet, you are not bothered by meaningless information that are cluttering your mind. You are not walking like a zombie looking down on some foolish device. You are not obsessed with scrolling down the Facebook wall. You are not tormented by dramatic news of some horrific event on the other side of the world that there is nothing you can do about. You are not being constantly convinced that the world is evil, dangerous and full of dreadful problems.. it does you no good, but spreads the fear inside you. We are constantly bombarded by 1000s of information every single day which is making us feel frightened, depressed or worse unworthy.
Without internet, you suddenly gain enormous amount of time to sit back, relax and self-reflect. You find capacity to think for yourself and not what others and media pressure you to think. Suddenly you enjoy interactions with strangers, you notice things you haven’t seen before and you are looking at the world like you were seeing it for the first time. Because you are looking up, instead of looking down all the time.
Being without internet cleared my mind of thousands of unnecessary thoughts and worries. It was so relieving and so liberating, it’s almost unreal. Suddenly I had time to enjoy my life, meet my friends, share stories, talk about our past, future aspirations, plans. Dream aloud.
Life is ultimately about relationships and about making ourselves and others happy and Internet and technology is ultimately making us more disconnected than connected.

The most gorgeous grandpas in Trinidad

El Capitolio, Havana

Second of all – In Cuba there are no billboards. No ads whatsoever. Cuban women are the sexiest women I have ever seen. Doesn’t matter if they are 60 kg or 120 kg. They walk on the street like they own it. Cuban women of all sizes radiate an extraordinary confidence and sex appeal. And you know why? Because there is no advertisement.In Cuba, they are not harassed by huge displays of super models in bikinis. They are not brainwashed by imposed image of a perfect beauty. As they don’t see how they “should” look like, they are satisfied and comfortable with their own bodies. Can we say that? We feel shameful with every kilo we put on weight or we don’t look exactly like it’s “approved” by the mainstream society. Instead of embracing our personality and physique we are constantly under pressure of big media telling us that if we don’t look like 45 kg anorectic woman we will never be attractive for a guy or accepted fully by the society. It’s an outrageous business which only makes us depressed and frustrated. In Cuba, woman walks like a queen and radiates charisma and passion. They are truly happy in their own skin and don’t understand why we are so concerned with our self image and desire to meet the “beauty standards”.  And you know what, we all should be feeling like a Cuban woman as we all are beautiful, and the pressure from the media should never make us feel any different.

Third of all – there is no place like Cuba. In this magical place, you feel like time has stopped and you have emerged in a different century. You are surrounded by beautiful colonial architecture, little cafeterias, various artists, and atmosphere which puts you in a constant awe. Marvelous Chevrolet cars from from 50s and 60s are crossing the streets and make you forever wonder how come they are still functioning? You hear music from every corner, you dance on passionate salsa music and you drink more rum than through your whole life combined. The good vibes are all around you.

Fixing 60 year old Cadillac, Havana

Walking down the famous Plaza Vieja, Havana

Cubans are the most charismatic and hot people I have ever came across in my life. They dance like the night was the last of their lives, and will charm you with their tremendous courage, spirit and passion to persevere against all odds.

If you want to go to Cuba, please, do me a favor and go now! Before “modern” world will flood the country with superficial values and ignorant lifestyle.

Go now, turn off your phone, clear your head and experience country that will change your perspective on life forever.

Cuba will mark you, straight to the heart and your soul will return tainted… rested, refreshed and forever thankful.


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