I spent a week in Cuba and it was quite a crazy adventure! It started off pretty chill with 7 of us piling off the plane, onto a bus, and over to the Breezes Jibacoa resort between Havana and Varadaro. I spent 3 days eating, drinking beers, and doing loads of snorkeling. The resort’s on a huge reef so there’s lots to see under the water. Josh captured a good slice of underwater video with his GoPro camera.

On Tuesday morning I went outside the resort for a short run in the morning heat. I had realized that we were isolated from Cuban culture but it really hit me when I went out and said hi to the locals that I passed on the road. Nobody spoke English, which was a sharp contrast to the resort and I could see that people living in the area were eking out a living in rural Cuba. You don’t get a good feeling about stuffing yourself at a buffet only minutes away from people living in poverty.

So I began to crave some authentic Cuban culture. On Thursday, day 4 of the trip, we were taking a bus tour of Havana and the night before, Reilly, Josh and I had a few beers and talked well into the night. There I hatched a plan to take the bus trip into Havana and stay there until I had to be back at the resort on Sunday night to catch our early flight on Monday.

Thursday we piled onto the bus with the other tourists and were guided around the tourist sights in Havana. When that all wrapped up, around 4pm, I said goodbye to everyone and wandered into Havana with a Lonely Planet guide, a Spanish phrasebook, and a couple changes of clothes.

Within half an hour I had met a local resident, Ivan, who was intent on practicing his English. We ended up talking for quite a while and when I said I was looking for a place to stay he accompanied me to the hostel I had picked out from the Lonely Planet guide. Good thing too, since during my whole stay in Havana he was the only person who really spoke any English.  I found a place run by 2 women, I think it was a mother and her daughter (again, they spoke no English so I didn’t get to find out too much about them) and settled in.

For the next 3 days I got the non-tourist tour of Havana and the surrounding area compliments of Ivan. He’s a really cool guy and I had a great time checking everything out. We hit some nightclubs where live bands provided a soundtrack for people to salsa dance. I saw Ivan’s hometown of Guanabacoa and the Statue of Christ across the water from Havana. On Sunday his friend Suri cooked us an amazing dinner and I headed back to the resort in a taxi during which I managed to have a long conversation with the cab driver in a mix of English (of which he knew a few words) and Spanish (of which I now knew a few words).

My friends were happy to see me return safely since they had no way of contacting me in Havana. I was full of energy after being in such a vibrant city and being back at the resort felt like I’d stepped into an old-age home!

I have a lot more to write about Cuba but I’ll save that for another post. I just wanted to get the basic story down for anyone who’s interested.

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