An American Tourist in Cuba

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I travelled to Cuba with AmericanTours International on one of their People to People programs in February for 5 days. I was travelling with a small tour group of 15 people but embarked on this journey alongside my father. It was our first father daughter trip and we figured with travel just being opened to Cuba it was a great opportunity to visit. We were excited about the idea of being a part of some of the first Americans in Cuba since the travel ban had been lifted. Having had the opportunity to travel to Cuba in the early stages of the United States lifting the travel restrictions for Americans I feel that I was able to get a genuine experience of the Cuban culture. As an American citizen I was unsure of how the Cuban people would respond to our group being there.

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  • Having travelled to a few countries I have learned that some people are more welcoming than others and with the history between Cuba and the US being what it is, I was not sure what to expect. Fortunately I was able to meet some of the nicest and welcoming people that were truly excited to meet Americans. A moment that sticks out to me the most that shows the true kindness of the Cuban people was an incident that occurred while we were visiting the famous Tropicana Club. Knowing that Cuba has a very tropical climate and is typically hot, my father decided not to bring any long pants and restricted his packing to shorts only. Not knowing that the Tropicana Club had a strict dress code of no shorts we boarded the bus and went on our way casually dressed. When my father attempted to enter the Tropicana Club he was quickly denied access. With my dad not being able to enter we were at a loss of what we should next.

My dad is a 6 foot 4 inch 220 pound guy and had often seemed bigger than most people in Cuba when we had been walking around earlier that day, so when the waiter at the Tropicana Club suggested he would look in the back to see if he could find any extra pair of pants from the waiting staff we knew our chances of finding a match were unlikely. With my dad not finding a matching pants buddy from the waiting staff we were once again out of options. As the guide, our tour leader, bus driver, and my dad and I all stood around outside laughing and talking about the entire situation we tried to find a solution.

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The true kindness and generosity of the Cuban people was shown when the bus driver from our group who resembled the same stature as my dad offered to switch pants with him. We laughed and asked multiple times if he was sure and he continued to say it was not a big deal and he did not mind wearing a pair of khaki cargo shorts for a few hours. So my dad was able to switch pants with the bus driver (even though they were still pretty short on him) and proceeded on with our night at the beautiful Tropicana Club. As we came inside to tell the rest of the group the story, they all laughed at the sight of my father in his mismatched highwater pants for the rest of the evening.

This story shows the true culture of the Cuban people and how kind they are towards travelers. For a man to offer his pants to a stranger for the evening is unheard of in the US and if it were to have happened here at home we would have ended up going home shorts and all. Even the efforts by the waiting staff at the Tropicana showed how they were willing to go the extra mile to help out a customer by trying to find a spare pair of pants. The hospitality shown to us as travelers was unmatched to what I have seen in other parts of the world. With the experiences I had while visiting I can say that the Cuban people were excited and interested to have Americans visit and I cannot wait for the opportunity to travel there again.