First Impressions of Cuba – Amy Walther

When I first got off the plane it really started to sink in that Cuba was going to be my home for the next three months.  I know we’ve all been preparing for this trip for so long but it never really sunk in until we actually landed.  Initially, the airport was exactly what I thought it was going to be. I pictured a small terminal with a couple of pictures hanging up. That is exactly what I saw to.  However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that going through customs my impressions stood corrected as what I thought it would be like.  I imagined people interrogating us asking us why we have come.  But instead a lady greeted me with a smile, and I was on my way.

As we all divided up and got into two taxis I took notice of the road conditions. Having spent my summers in Nicaragua I am used to seeing dirt roads, or brick roads.  I didn’t imagine that their roads would be fairly evenly paved.  Not only were the road conditions good, but also people were abiding by the traffic signals.  Again, this was an impression that I didn’t think was going to be made.  I imagined it a lot different in my mind.

As we drove down the streets I noticed that the way the apartments were stacked so close to one another varying in size it reminded me a feel of San Francisco in a way.  It was a very unique first impression that I got. I also was very surprised to feel how cool and breezy it is here. I had read a couple articles that said the ocean breeze gives a constant coolness but never would I have guessed I would be wearing a long sleeve shirt on my first night in Cuba!

When we arrived at our hotel again I was surprised at my first impressions.  Yes, our rooms were not completely ready.  Yes, we did not have all of our utensils or a lock box.  However, we did have great water pressure, hot water at that, and a bed to sleep on with two balconies.  Just that in it to me is a blessing! I know for a fact I take my hot showers for granted to when I stop to realize that I still have that here it’s a wonderful thing!  Our room is beautiful too.  Everything is open for the fresh air to get in which I love.  The people smile and giggle just because we were all still adjusting but it is a great feeling to know how much I’ll be learning in these next couple of months.

My first impressions of the markets here were incredible.  There is truly nothing like going and getting the most fresh tomatoes and cucumbers and slicing them to eat for dinner. Or waking up and eating a fresh pineapple. That is going to be one thing that I will miss I already know when we have to go back to the states.  Now the actual super market was a little different impression but nevertheless still an impression.  I was surprised how much they did have at the super market! Yes, it is completely different from what we are all used to but it was still awesome.  As profe says to us, “Don’t make a list of everything you need, instead by things that they have because they probably won’t next time you’re there.”  I have learned this by now approaching our second week.  I wanted some frozen spinach that I saw the prior week.  Well they didn’t have it.  I just laughed at myself and said, “Yup! I’m in Cuba.”

Cuba is an amazing place I already can tell that from my first impressions.  Even though things may not always going according to plan here it’s all about just taking everything one step at a time and learning the vast differences this culture has to offer.