Wanderlust Living is a travel blog for those who love to journey the world and want to bring it home into their everyday lives. I'm just a girl trying to have a cup of coffee everywhere she can. Our family has moved to the bustling city of Barcelona, Spain, after living on the beach in Costa Rica for three years. Try to keep up!

Andrea Fellman of Wanderlust Living Travel Blog

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What was it about Cuba?

What was it about Cuba?


Cuba Classic Cars Wanderlust Living

What was it about Cuba?

Some trips are just really hard to put into words. When people ask me “How was Cuba?” I start rambling on about how cool and unique it was, while my brain starts scrambling to find the perfect BIG words to actually define and describe it. I travel a lot, I’ve been to some unique destinations, but what was it about Cuba that made it so special? And why did Cuba make me cry?

Cuba is refreshingly disconnected

We were forced to unplug – completely. We did not use the internet for seven days. (No, this was not the reason I cried) but it might be the key reason I loved this trip so much. Harris and I don’t go on vacation; we go on work-cations, so for both of us to not be cramming a few hours of work in each day, checking email or posting to social media was, well, something pretty extraordinary.

That might sound sad to some, but really it’s not. It’s who we are and why we get to do what we do.

This was the first trip that I wasn’t at the dinner table checking Instagram or responding to some email that wasn’t urgent. I let it all go. I was completely present. Shockingly, it only took about a day to seize this opportunity and not even try to get online.

Being unplugged and unreachable was freeing – and finding this freedom in a Communist country was pretty ironic.

Internet in Cuba

There is internet in Cuba. Some hotels even have wi-fi, but not many. We stayed at Hotel Florida and they are currently working on getting wi-fi but while we were there only the manager’s computer had Internet. He told Harris and I we could use it whenever we wanted. Harris used it twice, but it was only to look up a few travel-related things.

(When booking at Hotel Florida ask for Jose – tell him the Fellman’s sent you! )

Yes, some people in Cuba have cell phones, but I hardly saw them and they certainly weren’t walking down the street or sitting at dinner totally glued to them. In fact, when I brought mine out at a few restaurants to take photos I felt awkward. I could feel curious eyes on me. Probably wondering either what the hell is that in her hands? or why on Earth is she taking pictures of her food?

Traveling to Cuba Internet
Our second hotel when we traveled down to Trinidad, Cuba had one computer in the lobby and with our upgraded bungalow room reservation we were given 1 hour of free internet a day, which we needed a token for. BAH! When Harris went to use this Internet it had such an old version of Internet Explorer that it did not have gmail.

We had traveled back in time – literally.

Travel like it’s 1995

Traveling to Cuba was old school and I liked it! We were getting back to our roots like when we backpacked through Europe with no internet and no apps or maps to tell us where to go. You had to ask questions, seek advice and just go with the flow. You might think this would be frustrating, but it wasn’t. It was refreshing.

There is beauty in being in the moment, getting lost or stumbling upon things by accident.

Instead of hiring a private taxi/shuttle to take us down to Trinidad, Cuba we took the bus. I realize this is not old fashioned, plenty of people take the bus, but with no internet we needed to find the bus station, which meant Harris physically going there by cab to find out what time the bus departs, when we needed to be there and how much it would cost. For Harris – this was old school.

The other thing about taking the bus is that you open yourself up for a possible story to tell later, or we might meet someone interesting or learn something. I secretly wanted something crazy to happen at the bus station, unfortunately nothing did. However, while at the bus station this is where I really understood how behind Cuba is in regards to technology.

While waiting for the bus we let the kids take out their iPads and the people around us were mesmerized by these electronic devices. Two people literally stood behind our kids and stared at their screens with the look of honest concern. They were unable to process what the hell it was.

It wasn’t as if we were from the future – we WERE from the future.

Cuba Cloassic Cars

The Classic Car Show

Fitting that I visit Cuba so close to the 4 year anniversary of my father’s death (May, 6th). The end of April is always emotional for me, my heart gets heavy, it knows what’s coming.

{Warning: this is where I cried}

My Dad was a serious car guy, like most dads who were born in the 50’s, I suppose.  When he was younger he drove a midnight blue 1965 GTO.  I remember going to the old Classic Car Shows when I was a little girl and watching something physically and emotionally come over my dad as he walked around the cars and commented on their bodywork and the size of their engines.

Cuba is the mother of all classic car shows, he certainly wasn’t going to miss this.

The cars that have been kept in mint condition are for the tourists to take an hour tour of Havana. It costs 35 pesos and you get a great view of the city and we made stops at Revolution Park and The National Hotel. These are of course not the only classic cars cruising around Havana, they’re everywhere. Many of them are used as regular taxi’s or just an everyday vehicle.

The drivers of these pristine cars are in fact the owners. Many of these cars were their father’s or grandfather’s and have been passed down to them. I could feel a sense of pride from our driver when he told us that it was his father’s. These cars hold so much history and are the only obvious connection to the United States.

As we drove around Havana in that beautiful blue 1961 Chevy it was the typical Fellman family scene – I was trying to take 100 pictures, McKenna was complaining about the heat and all my picture taking, Hudson was goofing off and Harris was squished in the middle of the back seat just laughing and along for the ride. Then somewhere in between the all the laughing and picture taking, I cried, because I could feel someone else in the car with us that day.

Dad, I hope you enjoyed the ride.

Blue Chevy in Havana Cuba Wanderlust Living

Cuba Cars

PInk Classic Car in Havana Cuba

Blue Havana Cuba Cars

Havana Cuba Classic Cars Wanderlust Living
Classic Cars in Cuba Red

Pink Classic American Cars in Cuba Wanderlust Living

 

Wedding Couple in Cuba Havana Classic Cars

Green Car Cuba

Cars of Havana Cuba

Classic Cars in Cuba Havana Green

 

Fellman Cuba

Disclosure: I traveled to Cuba as a travel professional, I am not an expert on international law or personal travel into Cuba.

7 Comments

  • Oh my goodness, this reminded me SO much of living in Mexico! I keep wanting to write about the unplugged experience. And I always felt like saying, “We’re from the future!” You’ve just given me some inspiration.

    • Sugar – It seriously was the best feeling in the world – to be so unattached and unavailable, which made me very much more present.

  • OMG dying over the beautiful cars!!!!

    • Aimee- The cars were the icing on the cake!

  • If people in America only knew the condition of the average Cuban’s life – it is horrific.

    Imagine one chicken a month per family…..little girls prostituting themselves for a bar of soap!

    We are doing the average person such a disservice through this romanticized journalism and imagery….

    • David, I appreciate your comment. I understand some of the conditions in Cuba, in fact I have a story about a woman we met in a museum that I want to share as well, when I can find some time to write about it.

      I am working on my travel writing and this is more of a family travel blog, I am not a journalist and my photos are a creative outlet for me. Deep heart wrenching stories are just not my area of expertise, and maybe I am a little afraid to write about these things, for fear I do not know enough to speak intelligently about the subjects. That does not mean that I don’t care or I am not aware of these types of situations in other countries. I live in Costa Rica, I see poverty all the time. We helped put a roof on our housekeeper and gardeners house, we have given them blankets and pillows, clothes for their children, and we find them more work and we even feed them on occasion. We help where we can. Many places in the world where North Americans travel have frightening conditions, and these stories should be told, but I am just not sure this is the place for some of them.

      Thanks you,
      Andrea

    • David,
      I’ve been to Cuba and I can’t confirm your observations of the “horrific” average Cuban life. In fact we have met a friendly people, hard working men and women, yes, but overall not unhappy or frustrated. We spent a decent amount of time in the rural part of the country as in Havanna, We had in fact lengthy discussions about the question whether people in Cuba are happier than the average US citizen. Honestly, the question is not easy to answer because how exactly do you define happiness? Yes, there is a dictatorship ruling over the Cuban people and hopefully they will overcome it. But their lifestyle, their attitude, their friendliness was exceptional – haven’t seen that in a lot of places like in Cuba, and I’ve traveled quite a bit. Not to speak of the extreme low crimes rates.

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