Cuba: Land of humidity, heat, and faulty toilettes.
The cultural differences which Anoosh and I have experienced so far have been vast and shocking. Today we traveled to the beautiful city of Trinidad. We were given four hours to explore the cobblestone streets and colonial architecture, during which we had the opportunity to observe—and in some cases become acquainted with—the locals of the city.
What immediately stood out to everyone was the extreme poverty, but what really struck Anoosh and I was the friendly and receiving attitude these people carried despite their near dire situations. Everywhere we went, shop owners, food vendors, and even beggars would ask not what we wanted to buy, what we wanted to eat, or if we could spare some money, but instead: where we were from, how we liked Cuba, and what we thought of the city.
This notion that every day interaction is an essential aspect of life and society, regardless of one’s race, religion, sexuality, gender, or socioeconomic position, is something which
we believe to be too often ignored in American culture. Personally, I couldn’t tell you the last time I asked someone I met on the street how they were doing, and I would venture to guess most of you couldn’t either. Now, I’m not saying this is any of our faults or that we’re bad people for having busy schedules and places to be, but it’s important to recognize that in order to maintain the American society which we are used to, we must sacrifice a certain degree of individuality. I guess what Anoosh and I are trying to say is that we would encourage all of you, especially in the wake of yet another act of senseless violence in our country, to take a lesson from the Cuban people and relax, appreciate that which you have, and simply take a little time to get to know the people around you so that we as a people can better come together and understand one another.
~ Cameron Daly and Anoosh Vafaei