I love to travel. I am a great traveler. I can go with the flow and if adventure is offered, Im grabbing it by the hand and jumping on the back of its 4 wheeler to ride around the island.
I am not a great travel agent. In my personal life, details get fuzzy and I make impulsive decisions before checking the facts. Usually this ends up with a great story where only I am affected. Sometimes it affects others. Like my beautiful mother.
This incredible woman, who puts up with way more than she should because she raised an independent daughter, wanted to go to Cuba. And so I flew her down (because I’m the world’s best daughter) and she would fly back with me. However, because details allude me, I not only bought her return ticket on a different airline, but it would also be 8 HOURS after I had left the country…
I tried everything I could to get her on the same flight or change mine, but nothing worked. So, facing the worst (or best if it was me) situation, my mother would be stuck in Havana alone for a day. It is the safest place, but if you don’t know a place, you can be somewhat wary.
So this is a post about being in a place alone where you don’t speak the language and how its totally possible because people are actually way nicer than we believe.
She went with us for a substantially large breakfast before we headed to the airport. Then, her day alone started.
Like anyone else who is going into a new city, she made sure to download an offline map (because there is next to no wifi anywhere in Cuba) and made her way from the Air BNB to explore the city that was all hers now.
Like most people, she had ideas on what she wanted to see and do.
We tried to look for this elusive market, but we weren’t sure how to find it. So, she would have to discover it for herself.
An open air market.
And when you have an opportunity to travel around on your schedule, you tend to get see the little gifts that you’ve waited for. Traveling alone will always offer some fantastic surprises.
“I wasn’t nervous once I got there. The people are far too nice to be nervous around. I knew I didn’t speak any Spanish and I thought that ordering food would be difficult.
When I was reading the map app I was nervous. But when I was there I didn’t mind being there by myself. I was able to completely sink into the local culture and it was almost impossible to be nervous.”
Luckily, my mother is pretty competent even when she is completely out of her element.
But with a smile and patience, she was able to have this wonderful little meal and explore a part of Havana that even I did not get to see.
And while I tried a mojito at every restaurant I went to, my mother (Alyse) branched out and tried a cerveza, or a local beer!
*A mom tip would be “its very important to travel with someone who does speak the language. I was able to get to places, but if I didn’t like the chicken I would have no way to say that. Fortunately I loved everything!”*
I asked my Mom the most important question; Would you go back to Cuba?
“I would go back in an instant. Even if I went alone, I would still go. But if I could change anything, I would want to travel with someone who spoke the language. I mean, I could get around and be immersed in the culture, but it was all kind of superficial if I don’t understand the language.”
When you go to a new world, see everything. Find a coffee shop that becomes your favorite. Learn a couple of the phrases to get you around and enjoy every minute of it. Some people wait their whole life to live, don’t be like that. Go!
Before I left my mom in Old Havana, these are the phrases I made sure she knew:
Donde estas le bano - where is the bathroom Una botella de agua - a bottle of water (only drink bottled water!) llevame a El aeroporte - take me to the airport
On behalf of the most beautiful woman I know, I will say go to Cuba. It’s a most wonderful adventure to have.