Cuba

Hola! Where have I been this whole time? I was in Cuba people, in Cuba!! I had the time of my life there, met nice people, ate nice food (OK, some of them weren’t so nice), and listened to nice music. In fact, I was so pleased with this “happy country” that after two days, I started to make plans about moving there. Seriously.I didn’t really plan this vacation, but when my aunt said “Hey, I’m going to Cuba, do you wanna come?” (she’s a serious traveler, by the way), I had to go. And that was a clever decision.

Cuba can be only 100 kilometers away from Key West, Florida, but it doesn’t even have internet access, and some other so-called “necessary” things. So, before the vacation I was a little freaked out. Also, the 10-hour flight (and 5+3 hours more, to get to Paris) was not very pleasant at all. But by the time we stepped into our old, historical hotel and saw the four Cuban guys playing and singing together, I changed my mind. Staying at 60 year-old hotels, where even the curtains were also 60 years old; or eating rice-potato-fish trio everyday wasn’t so important anymore. I was stunned by the music, stunned by the happy people, who don’t have iPhones or even extra soap to clean, but who are happy, because they don’t have anything to lose. They don’t have such passions to make more money, because everybody gets the same money. No, I’m not a communist, but what I saw there was different than what we read about Cuba. Yes, they may be poor, but that depends on how you define “poverty”. The government ensures that they get their basic needs, and such needs are free. Also, healthcare and education system in Cuba are better than in many of the countries. Interesting..

Most of the people in our group didn’t like Cuban food that much. At first, I also felt the same. That’s because they don’t use spices or sauces in their food. And coming from a culinary culture, where using too much spice is like an obligation, the food tasted “boring” to us. But after few days, we got used to it. But for me, the problem was not with spices, but with variety. I don’t know if it’s about how they understand as “tourist food”, but in everywhere we ate and drank the same combination of things: fish(or lobster), rice, potato puree, ground beef with peas, rice pudding, pineapple, papaya, guava, moijto and pina colada. Not that I didn’t like them, I actually liked those high-carbohydrated food; but I was expecting to eat more variety of fruits. I think we were in the wrong season, because I saw a lot of mango trees, but I couldn’t eat it anywhere. Also, the pineapples were raw and not pleasant to eat. So, although I didn’t like papaya, I had to eat it, and after a week I found myself saying “Oh, they don’t have papaya here, what a shame!”.

There are a lot more things to say about Cuba. Actually, I can talk 5 hours non-stop about this trip, but I’m going to cut short. I’m writing this post, because I bought 3 old books about Cuban cuisine from the street sellers there, and even though it’s written in Spanish, I’m hoping to try some recipes. We have Google Translate, right? I also bought a book, which I suppose, belonged to an American who lived in Cuba before the revolution. It has 1300 recipes, and I liked the “pocket cookbook” idea. I’m also going to test the recipes, and see if they are really old-fashioned and grandma-style.

Also, the new year post will be coming soon! For now, hasta la vista!

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