#CubaDiaries: Will Havana Set Your Soul Free?
I’m nervous to put this pen to paper.
I’m nervous to tell you the real story of what happened in Cuba.
I’m nervous because I know that there’s an allure to "lost islands."
There’s something mysterious about closed borders.
There’s something calming about disconnecting from the virtual reality of today’s internet.
I wanted to disconnect...
from our “Brave New World,”
because there’s nothing brave about it.
It’s January 2017, and my dad keeps sending me texts telling me to, “Get out of Mexico, and get out of Cuba. Our new President is likely to shut down travel to Cuba, and you’ll be trapped.”
All I have to say is this:
My American passport can take me anywhere, and that man is “#NotMyPresident.”
Right now, it seems like everyone with “cultural relevance” is flocking to Cuba. I want to see what all that hype is about... and moreover, I want to see that lost island before it changes into an American subset—like every other open border country seeking glorified wealth + development.
I wanted to know why high-fashion hierophants working for Chanel were suddenly so obsessed with Cuba that they would move their 2016/2017 Resort Debut to this closed off island, rather than keep their newest collection in the hearts of Paris, London, and New York City.
I know it was new + cool, and never been done before.... but there was something else.
Was it the exclusivity factor? You can’t buy cool, but you can buy a ticket to relatively closed off borders (without a visa, which is what I did).
The idyllic mystery that lies behind Cuba’s somewhat closed-off borders, led my cousins and I to select Havana for our next adventurous travel thrill.
In my mind, Cuba’s image on paper seemed to be ideal place for artists + creatives to get into their “zone.” After all, Ernest Hemingway, the American Icon, blossomed in Havana--right?!
Could it be something about the energy there that made this place so special?
Truthfully, I didn’t care.
I was already sold.
It’s happening. Visa, or no visa, I’m making it to Cuba. And so, I booked AeroMéxico tickets round-trip from Cancun to Havana, securely hitting “Yes, I’m a Legal Traveler,” on all three tickets.
All the research I did said, “forget the visa,” and don’t let them stamp your passport.
said, “Do-able. Journalism is one of the 12 legal reasons Americans can go to Cuba. Done deal. We’re in. I’ll write about it (or not).”
Before leaving, I browsed carefully curated Instagram feeds filled with Cuba’s picturesque buildings, and pre-planned outfits.
To my surprise, there were no food pictures, and the pictures that had long captions amounted to a total number of: zero.
More than that, the articles I read online were not packed with words about Cuba’s culture, but rather how to get into the country, the ever changing visa policies for US citizens, and ways to get money if you happen to run out.
This should have been the first tip off: when people are uncomfortable or even disapproving about a person, place, or thing—they tend to keep their opinions to themselves, and stick to survival facts. Duh.
I should have realized sooner that the facets of media available to me were so image focused--buildings, colors, flowers, fashion--but I didn’t notice anything strange.
I don’t even think I was consciously looking at the images.
I was so mentally blinded by the saturated filters of other people's pictures that I wholeheartedly forgot about the country's history. I totally forgot about Che Guevara, and his influential presence in Cuba.
I forgot about the revolución. I forgot about guerilla warfare. In fact, I didn’t even think of war, or coup d’etats, at all.
I forgot that Fidel Castro ruled with an iron hand. I forgot that Cuba was a regulated state.
I forgot that the principles of socialism existed in the country’s air,
moved through the country's rivers,
and suspended like mineral-rich particles in their soil.
While I love history, I don’t claim to be a political person.
I don’t protest, I don’t push my beliefs on others, I just write.
I write to connect seekers with a stronger sense of being, because when we’re all connected with our innate, honest existence, we will see “the hope,” and “the change” so many people talk about.
I need to be honest with you:
I loved Cuba—but not for the reasons that you may think.
I loved Cuba for the adventure, for the safety, and for its ability to show me
he ways in which I have locked myself into unnecessary mental + emotional misery.
Cuba showed me
set myself free.
As this story hits the paper, it moves from my heart + mind into your heart + your mind.
This story is yours, it's no longer mine.
As you read it:
I pray that you fully connect with all pieces of it,
that you stop caring so much about things,
filters, constructs, and images,
and you start caring more about the people around you.
May you elevate the way you look at your life, your country, your freedom, your homes, your access to debt creation (emotional debt, physical debt, financial debt, etc.), and drama to dissolve the disconnection that paralyzes this world.
This #CubaDiaries series is for you, and it’s just as much for the Cuban people, who are so generous, so strong, and so connected to the heartbeats that ground their souls.
Be warned: This is not your standard motivational content. These words are designed to make you address the darkness inside of yourself, because when you acknowledge it, you can finally set yourself free.
Set yourself free.