In October, I led a fabulous group of adventurers to Havana, Cuba to explore the rich culture, experience the local cuisine, and get a new perspective on simple living – which the Cubans have mastered simply as a result of their circumstances. The group was encouraged to apply the yogic philosophies of mindfulness, open-heartedness, and present moment awareness to our time there, and the result was a trip that expanded the minds and hearts of all thirty participants. We started out strangers and departed as one family unit.
Read Natalie’s viewpoint of what she discovered during her journey to a place that has been unaccessible to Americans until now…..
Yes, oppression is real and hunger is just below the surface – both physical and beyond. But what Cuba doesn’t lack, what Cuba has a rich amount of is love. Love for itself, love for the culture and traditions.
By Natalie Christine:
Visiting Cuba for me was about connecting with my heritage and my culture. Though born in the United States, my parents and grandparents instilled in me a love for a country we hadn’t seen in two generations. What I found when I arrived to Cuba was a vibrant and beautiful landscape – the people more beautiful than the incredible buildings of old. The architecture instantly transported you to a different time. The energy was vibrant and overwhelmingly loving and warm. The people would give you their only shirt off their well worn backs if all you did was ask – or even if they perceived a need. Traveling with a group of likeminded and gentle hearted individuals made space for all of the discovery and interaction that occurred. It was like being home. It is home.
Cuba is a little nook of our world that doesn’t function by the same rules of over commercialized life and constant hustle. That’s not to say that the city lacks vibrancy of movement in any way – it’s to say that the movement and motion, the energy of Cuba is pure. It’s love. It’s joy. It’s spirit. It’s all those things we’ve lost in our humanity.
Yes, Cuba has its issues. Yes, oppression is real and hunger is just below the surface – both physical and beyond. But what Cuba doesn’t lack, what Cuba has a rich amount of is love. Love for itself, love for the culture and traditions. Love for coffee and rum, love for the art of rolling a fine cigar. Love for each other, for music and for jokes, laughter and fun. Love for you – as a human, as a citizen of the same world they inhabit with us. As I drove through the island the thought arose in my mind, “this is the same sky.” It snuck into my mind to say this is the same sky I look at from my home. We all live here, together. We all wake up to the same sun and sleep by the same moon. We are all citizens of this bright blue and green ball that rotates as a speck on the speck of the bigger universe. The pale blue dot.
So though we share that same sky, the two places couldn’t be further apart. It’s a paradox we must acknowledge. That though the wonderfulness exists all around us, each of us have different access afforded to us. We each have a life with wildly different parameters. And if the Cuban people can choose to be happy, can choose to have peace and love and laughter and song as their chosen emotions that lie right about the pain and hurt and decay and separation, then we too can do the same. We can choose love. We can choose looking into each other’s eyes. We can choose to speak to someone for who they are instead of because we seek something from them. Cuba has what we have long forgotten – that we are each human, that we each have value and that there’s nothing more important than that connection between us all.
Respect each other.
This trip to Cuba was made possible with the help of our friends, Eric & Jason at Cultural Contrast.