I just got back from a trip to Cuba. I traveled there alone. What?! Alone? Yes, all by myself.
You may be asking. Jameela why did you decide to travel to Cuba alone? There are a couple of reasons. First, I wanted to go to Cuba before all the Americans got there and spoiled the country. Those pesky capitalists with their market-economy. I envisioned a Starbucks and McDonalds on every corner in Havana by the time the American consumer culture crept into every facet of Cuban life.
Second, I booked this flight at the height of my sleep deprivation. I was breastfeeding and I woke up every night at 1AM, 3AM, 5AM and 7AM. It was horrible! I decided I needed a break. I gave a few hints that I would be going away. Then, one day, I got up and booked my flight! I posted my itinerary on the fridge and happily announced that I was leaving.
As the days crept closer I seriously considered canceling. I started questioning what kind of mother I was. How could I leave the babies behind for 7 whole days?! When I stepped onto the plane I thought to myself “Omg Jameela, you are doing this. OMG. OMG!” I haven’t been anywhere alone, ever. For the past 4 years, I have always had a little human or husband by my side. But now I was FREE.
Traveling to Cuba Alone As a Mother/Woman
Traveling alone as a mother is liberating. You wake up when you want. Do what you want. Eat what you want. Wear what you want. The list goes on.
The evening I got to Cuba I walked around in Varadero by myself just taking photos. No one bothered me at all! I was wearing super short shorts and a tank top. I got the occasional “Hola” by some guy, but all I had to do was say “Hola” and walk away. I walked around with my Nikon camera until well after the sunset and only one person asked me for money (I’m not 100% sure if he was a vagrant/homeless/mentally ill or any of the above, but he had tattered clothing and was searching through the garbage can) asked me for money. I felt super safe. I felt so safe that I want to tell you a little story.
I met a couple on the plane ride to Cuba, and they invited me out to the Beatles Bar (a super Canadian/tourist bar in Varadero) the next night. In Varadero, there is a very well planned (thanks, communism) tourist network to connect all the government-owned resorts. There is a bus that costs 5CUC that will take you into town. It stops running a 9PM. Of course, at around 10PM, I start heading into town. In Ghana, the taxis try and rip you off if they see you coming out of a hotel. I also was told by my aunt that she jumped on the local buses when she traveled to Cuba. I thought to myself, I am going to go to the main road to catch a cab or a bus. I am sure it will be a reasonable price and a good experience.
I walk in the dark to the main road and proceed to flag down a cab. I try for what I feel like is a while, but all the cabs all full. I see no buses either. Crap! What am I going to do? Thinking back to my research on Cuba, I remember reading that hitchhiking is a thing. Perfect. I start flagging down random cars. After about three one stops! YAY!
I get in and inside is a guy from Spain who works in Cuba. I immediately ask how much he is going to charge me since I don’t want any misunderstandings when I get to my destination. He says it won’t be anything. Sweet. I just scored a free ride. I love free stuff!
Walking Alone at Night in Cuba
I roamed around and finally found my “friends”. Drinks were only 2CUC (like 3CAD), so we drank a few until it was time to go home. They went their way and I went mine and I safely found transportation back to the resort (20CUC – a 30-minute ride).
Anyway, the moral of the story is that it is super safe to be in Cuba alone. I am here to tell the tale. I made it there and back after all.
Hopefully, the next time I post, I can share some other things about being on a resort alone and traveling to Havana from the resort. For now here are some Varadero photos!