There’s always something to learn from a different culture. Cuba offers that remarkable bazaar of life and vigour against the backdrop of its vigorous history


A journey into a communist world

The city of Havana; a microcosm of an ideologically perfect world, set in motion. It is a world where prejudice of any form ceases to exist. A rigorous sense of equality and respect is bilaterally established amidst the harmonious coexistence of the locals. Walking through the quaint streets of old Havana, this was where I first began to acquire a brand new understanding of a fresh and oh-so-pure mentality. A mentality which appeared extremely salient in the Cuban culture.


Having grown up in an urban wonderland such as London, I find that the fast-paced, cosmopolitan nature of life often acts as a hindrance. A panoply of evasive skyscrapers stand tall, belittling any man who desperately spends his  life trying to climb the ladder to ‘great power’. It is most noteworthy that a fierce sense of competition is omnipresent within the career-driven mindsets of Londoners. A man appears all too happy to sit in the executive suite of a high-rise corporate firm. But, place him in a high-rise block of council flats and watch him cower and shrink. 

Of course, career motivation is imperative in our form of society. We are also not short of the spice of life here in London. Although, I fear that being so blighted by a desperation for materialistic comforts may result in us finding ourselves robbed of a life.


During my travels in Cuba I met many people. One person who particularly stood out to me was our tour guide, Marilena, who acquainted us with her city. A Strong-minded, well-spoken and well-dressed feminist. Marilena’s interests matched very closely to mine. A soul with a lust for culture and experiential education. Marilena was a Cuban local. She told us she worked in computer science. She also has a university education. Yet Marilena used to live in an equivalent to a council flat (in London). Working for the Government she could not earn much money — about the same amount as a cleaner. However, she appeared unfazed. Her love for her city, her family, friends and culture enabled her survival.

A strong sense of pride ricocheted off her every move as she informed us of the city’s prolific history. Every brick laid in the quirky streets had its own story to tell. A new band were euphorically playing music at each street turn. Varieties of tiny steel pans and pungent snaps of the castanets permeated through the intoxicating heat. Both the Hispanic and Caribbean influences on the Cuban culture were seamlessly encapsulated. The music ran like a rich stream. It pumped round the entire city of Havana, keeping its raw spirit aflame. All this, in spite of the dilapidated buildings, run-down corner stores or lack of modern-day technology.


In essence, it appears that a bitter stigma latches on to the concept of little money. So often we cast off individuals with unique hobbies, stories and interests because they do not belong to our social class. The outcome is that we dismiss potential companions, friends or even educators before we even learn their names! My trip to communist Cuba has given me the kind of valuable teaching I will never forget!


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