My solo trip to Cuba was an emotional one, my attraction was simply that it was a place my mother wanted to visit. We had discussed going for years. When I received an email from Atlas Obscura, it was a reminder that life goes on and I had no other option but to journey on without her. The all-inclusive trip cost $2795, with a $250 non-refundable deposit for 5 of days. I know, that's a lot of dough. I initially hesitated because of the price but a week later, I had a dream of my Mom calling me a pendeja because she would have gone with no hesitation.
After deciding it was worth the money, time for the trip finally arrived. I arrived in Miami a day early to enjoy the beach. That night, I didn’t sleep. I was anxious. Here I was, 35 year old, lost both of my folks, my sisters and I grieving and fighting, on my way to a communist country where Castro was still holding on for dear life. I was a completely blank canvas and terrified I would somehow mess up my whole life and there wouldn’t be anyone there to protect me.
The next morning as I was packing I dropped the protective eye necklace I thought I’d left in my bedroom drawer. I can't explain the emotions I felt. I know for a fact I put that necklace in the top drawer. I decided to take it as a sign - My mom was with me and she more than approved. She wanted to join.
Finally in Havana, we checked into Casita #8 - El Balcon Hostal hosted by young couple, Denia y Vadim and their two young sons. As luck would have it my housemates, Brooke and Victoria were also from Brooklyn. Brooke was like meeting a future version of myself and Victoria was the nurturer I needed, always making sure we were okay. In our group I also met Lauren, herself on a journey. We shared our losses and connected in a way that I hadn’t been able with anyone since my parents passed. My sisters and I hadn’t been able to express our grief to each other without it turning into a fight of sorts. I didn’t get any eyeballing, or “here she goes again” looks from Lauren. She never made me feel like I should be past the heartbreak, she understood and shared her experience.
Cuba skies awoke me from the slumber I was in since the loss of my folks. It was the first time I felt mom's presence and the first time in a long time that I felt genuine joy. I know a sky is just a sky but in Cuba the sky felt as it was offering an infinite joy. I returned from Cuba with an unknown purpose, so I began to observe myself and the things that attracted me and made me feel peace and joy. Thus began my journey to the EU.