Local residents make neighborhood feel friendly

Juana Davila,

When you are holding a camera while taking a stroll through Havana’s streets, people are either going to ask you to take a picture or charge you 1 to 2 CUCs for a photo.

To some extent, I was surprised at the number of people who actually asked me to take their photo. I guess I expected the Cuban people to be more reserved when in reality they are really friendly. I did notice that while they were open to get their photos taken, some were very hesitant about being interviewed which is completely understandable.

A few days ago I went out with some classmates when this older man sitting in front of his house shouted “Pictures.” I then asked him in Spanish if he wanted his picture taken and he said yes. He casually posed and then got up and we started to have a conversation.

When I’m at home I normally don’t stop to have a conversation with a stranger but when in Cuba you do things out of your comfort zone.

The man began asking my classmates and I about our stay in Cuba and whether or not we loved the island. He was pleased to hear that we were enjoying our stay.

Throughout my stay in Cuba I realized the cultural differences between the island and the United States.

It’s normal for the Cuban people to greet you with a hug and a kiss which could be a bit overwhelming for a foreigner, depending where you are from. As a Latina, I grew up having to greet people the “Mexican way,” which is similar to how it’s done in Cuba.

Now, in the United States if someone pulls you into them and hugs you and plants a kiss on your cheek, then you may have grounds for a lawsuit.

That’s not the case in Cuba. Hugs and kisses are symbols of friendship and unity within the community; Cubans aren’t afraid to be affectionate.

On the same day we met the older man, we walked passed a group of men working who also asked to get their picture taken. They were mixing cement but immediately put their tools down and posed together.

They wanted a picture with their “compas” and you could get a sense of how close they were.