There are many ways to get to Havana, whether by choice, or by it being the only option available. But sometimes the way you reach Havana on your first visit effects how you see the city thereafter. For young Cubans who weren’t fortunate enough to have been born and raised in Havana, the most developed city in Cuba both economically and culturally, arriving in Cuba’s capital is like seeing the world for the first time.
One of the most significant opportunities that Havana offers young Cubans is education, it both accessible and allowing you to find openings that otherwise wouldn’t be available. Education is one of the doors that allows entry to Havana to young Cubans from other parts of the island, and these doors open other doors. While entertainment and cultural activities are sparse outside of Havana, the area referred to as “the countryside” by most Havana residents, there is always something going on in Havana. Drawn to the lights, many from the countryside wish to stay, and as the popular Cuban saying goes, “pa’ atras, ni pa’ cojer impulse,” which roughly translates to, “not a step back, not even to gain momentum.”
But not all the lights of Havana are bright for young Cubans, and the city is full of hardships. From the diabolically designed bureaucratic mechanisms that make everything difficult, the overcrowded and sometimes non-existent public transportation, to the horrible food at the university.
Life in Havana is not a fairy tale, and it is a place that does not suffer fools. You must learn from every mistake and situation, and every day learn a little more about this country inside of Cuba, La Habana.
By Cecilia Muñoz