As New Years Eve 2010 approaches and we gear up for another annual trip with friends I think back to our 2009 adventure. Going where we were certainly welcomed but not allowed by our own country, Cuba seemed a tad scary, mysterious and difficult to get to.
We chose to stay with a local family in their casa particular. It’s a unique way to experience how many typical Cuban families live while at the same time helping them to earn an income.
In our week with our hosts they opened their home to us, told us stories, talked frankly of politics, introduced us to their family and friends and spoke of the future. We invited them to partake in our nightly cocktail hour, sharing various treats we had brought from the states and gin martinis made with “real French vermouth” as they happily noted.
One day they held a big party for their family and friends and graciously invited us to join. They filled our paper plates with mounds of treats they had splurged on and prepared for the special occasion- roasted pork, tamales, cake, etc. We passed out the only thing we had a lot of: home baked Christmas cookies. The guests took it upon themselves to give us salsa lessons making it even more fun!
On New Years Eve we invited them to share in our champagne. We noticed the empty bottles were saved as souvenirs. My own wonderful souvenir is the memory of that truly unique experience!