An Unforgettable Journey

Written by Allison Viaja 

Dear Momma,

I have run the Malecon at sunrise, talked politics with people from around the globe in front of kitchy Trump art nuevo at Fabrica de Arte, whose line stretches 1,000 people long, but which the gift of a VIP card allowed me to bypass. I've biked 40km through fishing villages along the northern coast with doctors from Belgium, and free climbed the magotes of Viñales. I've sat 3rd row center at the Cuban National Ballet and been reduced to tears. I've been paraded around cobblestone streets in a horse drawn carriage while men yelled, "You're beautiful!," and "I love you!" up to me like adoring subjects. I've refreshed my salsa skills on crumbling rooftops to sunsets that last longer than my legs do, and to the music of everyday life. I've scuba'd the Bahia de Cochinos and played dominos in the streets of Havana, smoking cigars with men 10x my age and been schooled and taught a thing or two right back. I've been invited into the home of a Santeria woman simply for the conversation, even though we do not speak the same language. She either blessed or hexed me... I'll never know. I've been tattooed by Mauro Coca, strangers have fed me like family, and Ive been kissed more times in the past 2 weeks than I have in the past 2 years.

On Thanksgiving, I've raved in a discotequa in a cave with 2,000 others and have almost died more times than either of us care to know about traversing 1800km in collectivos back and forth across this beautiful land. I've swam in turquoise waterfall pools with souls I did not know, from every country I've never touched, and for that time, we were the best of friends. I've danced on the steps of Casa de Musica, napped on white sand beaches and mastered the regional sign language indigenous to Havana, necessary to let taxi drivers know where you need to go before they stop for you. I've made amigos de por vida in every town and city, spent all of mine and probably your money, slaughtered the fine linguistics of Spanish across four provinces, my attempts all welcomed with kindness and patience, I found my people and I've given away almost everything I had, while receiving so much more in return.

In the end, I've fallen in love with a caballero from Trinidad (I hear we all do). In the mornings we ride the mountains, wash the horses, race them, and swim naked in the river, and I can't tell you what we do at night. And please know, I love you too, but I AIN'T NEVER COMING BACK!


(Feel like creating your own Cuba memories? Visit our website for itinerary options. We won't tell your mom.)


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