I can’t believe the holidays are in full swing. It doesn’t feel like November has already flown by and we will sitting down at the Thanksgiving table tomorrow surrounded by family and friends. Thanksgiving means the expression of gratitude. This is a time that we join together and share all that we are thankful for.
When life gets busy that it is difficult to see the blessings in our lives. We become accustomed to a certain standard of living and may not see certain things as a privilege.
I had the opportunity to visit Cuba in September with my husband and parents. It was a trip that we have wanted to take for a long time. We have been to other Caribbean islands but wanted to see what Cuba was all about. Were they really stuck in the 1950’s with classic cars? We needed to see this for ourselves. We honestly didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into when we took this trip.
When you are on a cruise and visit islands in the Caribbean the cruise line is very selective with where you go. Modern amenities are available, the islanders speak English, and you have luxuries that you have at home. This is not true for Cuba. As we were making our way into the port of Havana we were greeted on the left by an old fort and on the right was the bustling city. At least that’s the way it looked to us. At first glance the city was beautiful, but then we started to make our way closer to land and into the port.
The city wasn’t what it seemed. There was one cruise terminal open. The other two were crumbling and did not have roofs. The roads within the city were paved but not every section was good condition. The sidewalks were cracked and had potholes. Most buildings had no windows. Air conditioning was almost nonexistent within the city. Most buildings were in disrepair. It was eye-opening. We were in Havana, the capital city of the country. I can not imagine what the rest of the country looks like. It is not what we are used to in America.
We attended a short presentation about Cuba before entering the country on our guided tours. This is what stood out to me – we were told to bring our own toilet paper off of the cruise ship. If we stopped for the restroom toilet paper would not be available or we would pay per square. Toilet paper is a luxury! This isn’t even something we think twice about in America.
We made our way into a few shops on our tour. At one point I stopped to help my mom out of one of the buildings. The stairs were not even and when you stepped down back to the sidewalk you were greeted with a pothole. There was no rail to help you down the stairs. If we hadn’t been on a tour we wouldn’t have known this was even a shop by the outside appearance.
I am not telling you all of this to cast a negative light on Cuba. The Cuban citizens we interacted with were welcoming and opened their arms to us. They were friendly and accommodating. Despite the state of the city we plan to visit again. We will visit by cruise ship so we have the amenities and foods we are used to. However, it was truly a humbling experience.
This Thanksgiving I urge you to give thanks for those little things as well. Even if you are not well off as an American you are better off than much of the world. Give thanks for things in life like toilet paper, running water, and air conditioning, that we often take for granted.
Thanksgiving is about the little things in life that we often overlook.