Cuba is one of those places set back in time, maintaining it’s culture and authenticity and the feeling that everyone comes together as one large family, at least that’s how it was in 2015 when we made our trip, just before the US lifted the embargo.
Our journey to Cuba was for a friend’s wedding, and the groom happened to be a local Cuban, now living in Canada, so not only did we get to enjoy this new destination for it’s beautiful tourist destination, but we also experienced the feeling of Cuba + family and how everyone comes together to love and to share.
Meeting a few locals, making Cuba one of our most memorable vacations to the Caribbean
The Wedding Family
The groom rented a beach house next door to the Varadero Resort for his whole extended family. This large extended family sat together preparing meals, sharing stories, playing on the beach and literally just sharing all day together, without technology, enjoying each other’s company and a lot of comfortable leisure. It was truly special to meet them and see the pride they had for the groom, and the openness and sharing that we experienced from this family, and from all of the locals we encountered on the trip.
Before we left Canada, we heard that some of the guests for the wedding were collecting schools supplies and sports equipment to bring to a charity in Cuba which is funded by Canadians, so I gladly jumped in and filled a suitcase with new supplies to bring. The Friends to Cuba organization graciously supports many great causes in Cuba with essential needs such as building materials to keep their spaces running.
We were so thrilled, and humbled, to travel to the children’s home and meet the children. Their friend, a taxi driver, came all the way to Varadero to pick us up and took us across the island to Matanzas, and back. He was so kind and a great source to This Children’s home provides a safe and loving home to foster and orphaned children. Again we were so amazed at how much the Cuban people act like one big family and are so kind and so willing to share their home and stories with visitors. The home had 18 children and several adult workers when we visited, and they seemed like one big family the way they played, and spent time together and sat with us as we shared goodies and taught them how to play Twister.
Meeting the children really made this vacation special in a different way and our hearts were full and our minds running with how we could help further. Of course the best way to help is to continue to support the organization, and to SHARE by word of mouth. If you are going to Cuba please connect with Friends to Cuba to see if you can help bring medical or school supplies for their clinic, the children’s home or the school that they support, or make a donation to support their great work.
From their website today here is a list of current needs:
Boys and girls from 7 - 17. Tylenol, Vitamins, Antibiotic ointment, cuts and scrapes), band-aids, Toothpaste, toothbrushes, Deodorants, Hair clips, Scrunchies, Bobbypins, Hair care items - Brushes, & combs. Games IE: Checkers, Chess, Connect 4, Snakes & ladders, Dominoes (Double 9 in Cuba), Bingo, Soccer balls, Baseballs,Skipping ropes. Clothing: Socks, Underwear, T-shirts, Shorts, Sanitary pads, make up School: Pens, Pencils, Colored pencils, Erasers, Sharpeners, Rulers, Pencil cases, Math sets (Geometry sets).
The fisherman was another local Cuban who was out front of our resort on several days, as he spent his day fishing on Varadero Beach, catching fish i assume for his family or to sell. He seemed to get a humble pleasure out of sharing his fishing experience with the tourists as he would show his catch, without speaking a word, and would share a few morsels with a pelican, and help the tourists get that perfect shot of the moment. With this was just pride, and sharing once again, with no expectations from the man, he wasn’t selling a wildlife experience or asking for anything in return, not once when we saw him. He just shared. It was lovely.
I also came across a group of locals at the end of the beach one morning and they were eager to try to talk to me in my (non-existent) Spanish and show me the fish they were cooking and how to do it.
The Little Locals
When I am not on the beach with a book and a mojito, my favourite thing on every tropical vacation is to explore the resort gardens and local nature to slow down and focus on finding those hidden treasures and beautiful moments perfect for photos.
CUBA WAS FABULOUS
From the great company we shared this trip with for the wedding, to relaxing on the beach and exploring all over Cuba, we really loved the sights and adventures in Cuba.
There are too many pictures to count from this trip and exploring the countryside and small towns was a really enjoyable part of our trip.
Here are a few more of my favourite photos from the trip to sum this up.
N.B. Many of these images are available for stock use under licence through Firstlight.com and Designpics.com . I am a contract stock photographer for these agencies, photos cannot be used without permission Thank you! Alanna D Photography