After many long sleepless nights and hours spent meditating on writing, I decided it was finally time for me to actually perform the task of writing. When it comes to writing I am a living, breathing contradiction. I am for all intents and purposes a writer. However, I haven’t written anything in months. I have suffered for some time from a crippling form of writer’s block. That is until I moved here…China. I have been living in China for exactly one month and while embarking on this journey I find myself mulling over all of my past travels, Cuba particularly.
I have no idea whether or not it is safe for me to disclose details about my trip to Cuba, but since it was a highly educational experience I will take my chances. Before every trip I always envision the experience I wish to have, right down to the feelings I want to feel. Now, most of the times I am able to recreate this projection of sorts. I eat the foods I want to eat. I reach the destinations I planned to visit. And I meet locals and learn about the culture. But Cuba was different. Cuba made me question much of what I do as a traveler, how I do it and what I need to do differently. I realized that as a traveler, and perhaps because I am a writer (really I am) I have a tendency to romanticize a place and the expected experiences I will have in said place. Cuba, unintentionally, burst my little romantic fantasy bubble. There is no romanticizing a place when you spend more than four days there. I didn’t just speak to the little locals, I went to their homes. I ate with them. And I really, really talked to them. Not just about their country, but about their condition. Don’t get me wrong. It was never a tale of woe. Cubans are extraordinarily proud people who love their country. And many wouldn’t leave under any circumstances. Ironically, this realization fascinated me the most.
But the greatest thing of all about Cuba is that it helped to prepare me, albeit slightly, for life in China. The lack of access to social media. The blind patriotism and socialist ideologies. And the obvious gulf between the classes. I now have more questions than answers about the places I’ve traveled to and the destinations yet to come. I no longer have a desire to “conquer” a place because I know that it is an impossible feat. But my hope is that by the time I leave China, I will understand and appreciate it as I eventually understood and appreciated Cuba.