Experiencing Gratitude at La Aguada

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.

Cuba map at La Aguada. Photo Courtesy of Tony Polanco

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.

Photo Courtesy of Tony Polanco.

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.

Photo Courtesy of Tony Polanco.
Photo Courtesy of Tony Polanco.

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.

Photo Courtesy of Tony Polanco.

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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19 thoughts on “Experiencing Gratitude at La Aguada

  1. Sweet post. Thanks for sharing! Yes, Cuba does not have a consumerism culture. They need to take care of things….the land, their cars, their culture, their health…. 60 years of US sanctions and continued attempts to starve them and destroy their economy would have destroyed less resourceful people.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Actually the old car culture in Cuba was born of the American blockade that froze their vehicle stock in the 1950’s to early sixties. They were resourceful and mechanically inclined but would have bought new American cars if they were allowed to.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I really enjoyed reading what you had to say! In many places things are taken for granted and it is great to know that appreciation and gratitude is still valued even in the hardest of times. It is places like these that we realize that wealth truly comes from within. Thanks for this!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well, I’ve visited your blog and you have so many story starters that make me want to read on. I’ll get to them all some time and pass on to my family and friends who are thinking of visiting South America, your travel help.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We’ve been able to meet some folks from Cuba and you are right, they are grateful people. They do not have the availability of so much that we take for granted. They have been restricted for so long, it amazes me that gratitude is there when they could be bitter.


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