We made a pit stop in an area called Aguada de Pasajeros. It was a small plaza area in the middle of no where in Cienfuegos, Cuba. The name came from the stop’s conveniently placed location on Cuba’s national highway. I was relieved that this stop was going to be about 40 minutes. Upon arrival, everyone seemed thrill to have time to get off the bus without doing a relay race.
The plaza area had a restaurant called Ranchon La Aguada, souvenirs shops, and a few bookstores. For a common tourist, this space may have not been anything special but I was fascinated by how Cubans use the little that they have. Since I arrived in Cuba, I noticed this culture of value for the little things. One thing that I realized is how Cubans take care of their cars and vehicles. Cuba’s old school car culture reflected a culture of learning, appreciation, and sustainability.
I noticed how cars stop here to do mechanical work or just to check on the car before getting back on the road. It is as if every car owner is a mechanic with an extensive knowledge about maintaining the vehicles. They are very friendly and will discuss how they maintain their vehicles while maintaining the basic necessities in life. You can see the appreciation they have to be able to have a vehicle while others are limited to Cuba’s unreliable public transportation. The car culture in Cuba was exemplified by Cuban’s immense value of appreciation.
One thing that really struck me was how creative Cubans are with their art. There were a few sculptures that served as decoration for the stop. They turned a simple rock into a statue. There was a train with slave hands peaking out of the ground. I didn’t understand it but it was thought-provoking. They took care of these statues and maintained the little that they had.
I waited in a long and unorganized line to order food. I was already used to waiting for things in Cuba and this time was no different. After waiting for about 15 minutes just to order, I realized that 40 minutes was not enough time for this stop. As I ordered the food, I was reminded about Cuba’s food shortage. The selections were ham sandwiches, cheese sandwiches, and fried pork sandwiches. I was tired from the bus ride but I noticed how everyone else was just grateful to eat. As I sighed, I caught myself in a privileged and entitled mindset. I reflected on Cubans’ sense of value for the little things and how it defined their happiness and will power.
Our time was up at the stop and I was still waiting for the food. Surprisingly, I was not frustrated nor upset. After reflecting on the Cuban lifestyle, I was just grateful to be able to experience moments like this (I was still hungry). I finally received the food and rushed to the bus. I was nearly the last one on the bus but no one was upset. As I started to eat, I reflected on how Cuban’s focus on their gratitude. Cuba may be economically poor but rich on value and appreciation. I left Aguada de Pasajeros with a different attitude and a greater sense of gratitude.
Thank you for reading. Much love and safe travels!
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