Saludos from the city of Charlotte, N.C.
I know. Those of you who follow my blog regularly expected me to report from Cuba—either from the beach resort town of Varadero or from the capital, La Habana. One of the challenges that I along with the other tourists and residents on the island faced was the lack of reliable Internet and Wi-Fi connectivity. Because of the communist government, Wi-Fi and Internet access is limited—either because the government doesn’t want people to have unrestricted access to the Internet, an unwillingness to invest in infrastructure that would allow everyone the ability to connect or a little of both. Instead, people buy scratch cards (like lottery tickets, except everyone is a winner; but not really) that give you access to the Internet for one-hour at a time.
Despite having written one blog post, I was not able to publish it. During my first attempt while still at the resort, access to Wi-Fi was cut-off at approximately 1:30 a.m. It should not have been a surprise to me since the resort cut-off electricity to the common areas (lounges and hallways) around midnight. When in La Habana, the home, or “casa particular” as they are known in Cuba, where I stayed did not have a router. Seeing that most Cubans don’t even own ovens and rely on a portable electric cooktop to make their meals, I was expecting to have in the home I was renting. Instead, Keller and I walked a few blocks to the closest hotel where we could purchase the access cards and use the hotel’s Wi-Fi. On my second attempt I realized that ETECSA, the Cuban Wi-fi provider, did not like WordPress and would not let me access it.
So instead of getting real-time reports about life in Cuba, I will be publishing a series of posts reflecting on my trip to Cuba and my perspective on the meals we had in Cuba. To end on a positive note, I will leave you with a top 10 list of things I enjoyed most about my trip to Cuba, in no particular order.
- The warmth of the Cuban people. Despite living under Communist rule for nearly 60 years, the Cuban people remain a warm and welcoming group. As I always say, government is made of its people, but the people are not necessarily their government.
- Meeting my father’s family for the first time ever. This was a bucket list item that I can now check off.
- The celebratory spirit of the Cuban people. No one, except maybe the Brazilians, can party like the Cubans. Heaven help the free world when they are no longer under communist rule. If this is how they party under communism, I can’t imagine what it will be like when communism is no longer a factor.
- The ingenuity of privatized businesses.
- Bonding with my teenage son.
- Watching my teenage son revel in his Latin roots.
- The fact that chivalry is alive in Cuba—though it was at times hard to deal with as an independent gal.
- How Cubans have turned hustling into an art form.
- How cheap good quality rum is.
- Lack of Wi-Fi access.
About this post’s title
For those of you who are fans of Tolkien, the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit, you may recognize this post’s title as the same one that Bilbo Baggins uses as the title for his memoirs documenting his adventures away from the shire. I thought it was appropriate for my adventures away from home.