Once Upon A Time: The African Girl in Havana, Cuba
Once upon a time, two African girls walked the streets of Old Havana, rode a vintage car across the El Malecon, explored the monuments of Plaza De La Revolucion, danced salsa all night in Miramar and ate pineapples off a street fruit cart. Needless to say, life was perfect.
“Thank you for visiting our country, I have never seen people like you here before.” – The old man at Plaza De La Cathedral, the oldest church in Havana.
He, like the other Cubans we came across, were in awe of the two African girls who walked the streets in their African prints, braided hair and a spring in their steps. We looked different and embraced it. We were happy, it’s hard not to be in Havana.
We were happy, life was perfect. It’s hard not to be happy in Havana.
You may have heard about Havana but just to reiterate. It’s a beautiful city, but not in the typical way. The beauty of Havana is chaotic. It is like an organized mess or beautiful sounds playing from broken strings. With Havana, you’re either absolutely loving it, or hating it. There are no in-betweens.
My First Impressions
You know what they say, first impressions matter. At first glance, Havana looks old and rugged but for those who can appreciate the intricate details and are able to see the beauty in the chaos, it’s the perfect city.
I had visited Viñales the day before and I was wondering if Havana could measure up. The short answer is, yes.
Skeptical, nervous and excited, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the city. The day before, I had gone to the beautiful Viñales and after such an amazing experience, I was wondering if Havana could measure up. I was curious but ready to find out.
Cruising around in a Vintage Car
We kicked off the day in Havana with a vintage car tour. You’re in Cuba, this has to happen. Riding in style in a 1955 convertible Crysler, Chevrolet or any other classic car is exactly what you should be doing while in Havana.
Riding in style in a 1955 convertible Crysler, Chevrolet or any other classic car is exactly what you should be doing while in Havana.
Tip: Book your Classic Car tour well in advance and make sure to confirm with the company before your trip. I had to change my plans because I did not confirm. Booking on the website is barely enough.
We booked our ride at OldCarTours and it didn’t disappoint. Imagine a pink 1955 convertible Chevrolet meeting you at your door steps in the wee hours of the morning. What could be better?
Walking the streets of La Habana, Cuba
Now, the streets of Havana is really where it’s poppin! This is where it starts to make sense, it starts to make sense why Havana continues to attract tourists from all over the world, why pictures from Havana are all over your Instagram feed. You can just see why! Now is the time to ditch the vintage car ride, you’ve had enough of it. It’s time to explore by foot and get lost in the streets of La Habana, where all the magic happens!
We found a lot of things when we walked the streets of Havana but the most prominent ones were the sound of electric music that played as you walked the cobbled streets, many enthusiastic vendors trying to sell you something, great street food and fruit carts and people with a lot of heart.
Tip: Havana has a lot of street vendors and people who will try to convince you to buy something. Be careful not to indulge them too much. We got charged for taking a photo that we had nothing to do with, and a woman pretended to have a baby and took us to a warehouse to get diapers for her child. Turns out, she wanted to buy in bulk to resell. You have got to be wise in Havana!
The two African Girls In Havana, Cuba
“La chicas Africanas” we heard the locals call us as we walked by. Some secretly stole photos of us, while the others who could, walked up to ask for one.
One thing that definitely added flavor to the Cuban experience was the fact that we looked really African. It was hard to miss with our Ankara (a.k.a African prints) and our hair in braids. It made us stand out and opened us up to loads of conversations with the people of Cuba. They were curious to know where we were from, they will touch our hair, ask us for photos and pretty much treated us like princesses.
Having conversations with locals when you travel can really put things in perspective. It’s a chance to learn a thing or two about their culture, while they learn a thing or two about yours. It’s a win-win for everybody.
Other Havana Highlights include:
- Salsa dancing in the dead of the night at Miramar
- Watching a live band performance at Casa De La Musica
- Seeing the statue of Christ monument
- Exploring the Plaza De La Revolucion
Havana is a truly great place and I am glad to have visited when I did. Not sure words and pictures can do it justice but you will have to see it yourself, so from me to you, Visit Havana soon!
Have you visited Havana before? Did you like it there? If you haven’t, do you think it’s a place you will enjoy? Let me know your thoughts.
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I’ll see you next Friday.
I’ve been wanting to go for so long now I’m so jealous! I am in love with the bright colours that they have there! Their cars too! Gorgeous.
This is a great post – I adore your photos and it sounds like you were trying to get under Cuba’s skin and learn more about the culture.
Great photos! You have me wanting to go back to Cuba! I loved the entire experience and it looks like you did too!
Girl, your photos are seriously amazing! Definitely popping. I have to say I love your writing style, it really draws you in. Definitely want to visit Cuba now <3
The colours of your pics are just awesome! It’s a very very happy post about Cuba 🙂 loving the old cars as well.
Looks like you had the time of your life. Thanks for sharing. These are some amazing photos.
wow your pictures are a delight. Such bight colors and so beautiful. Enjoyed reading about your stay in Havana 😀
Love love love the colours and pictures. Great photography. I will definitely bookmark this post.
Great pictures! Love that pink car!!! I’ve heard so many great things about Cuba, I must visit soon. Looks like such a vibrant and fun place to be.
Love love love! The colors are everything! Really stunning pictures and great post!
Looks and sounds amazing! Beautiful pictures hun x
Your photos are sooo dreamy, girl! Loving all of the vibrant color in Havana, and your outfits are just perfect to go along with the scenery! You make me want to pack up and get over to Cuba immediately!
Can I photoshop myself in girl?? ?. What?! These pictures are freaking amazing. They’ve brought Havana to life and for me that’s what a good travel post should do. You and your sister look gorgeous too. Glad you had fun, babe. Here’s to more wonderfully unique adventures!
Lovely photos, brought back memories ! I went to Cuba on January this year and I agree with you… For me, the colonial capital is a movie set lying somewhere between decay and sparkling beauty. Ah, the faded splendor of decrepit pediments ! The dilapidated buildings, collapsed or just having lost their balconies and roofs over time, and the heavy dust gives Centro Habana a faded side. But the sound of music (salsa, sound, rumba, cha-cha-cha, boleros, etc.) drifts out of half-open windows all day 🙂
Your photos are making me want to go back to Havana! I love your dresses too!!! I am glad you had a great trip!
Such a lovely and colorful post! I really wanna visit Cuba and your post increases this urge. I ‘m glad you had a great time
1) you’re one of my new favorite travel bloggers because 2) MELANIN!!!! and 3) your photos just sing…they ooo and dance and glow. Coupled with your writing, you make everyone want to visit wherever you are.
Your pot reminded me of my happy days in colorful Havana! I loved that city so much and I plan to return one day, hopefully next year as a friend of mine just moved there. The vintage car ride on the Malecon was definitely a highlight of the visit to Havana.
I love y’alls outfits! The bright colors work so well with Havana’s vibes. Sounds like you had some fun adventures!
Wow what a great article. I loved it. Your pictures are stunning. Now I want to go to Cuba too 🙂
Oh my! I have extensively enjoyed this post! Loved your story and LOVED the photos! I hope to get to Cuba by the end of the year. Thank you for sharing!
This sounds so fun! I love the positive outlook on being recognizably different. I lived in a small town in Korea for 4 years and as a so-white-I’m-basically-clear 5’9 female, got a lot of attention (good, bad, and weird)- and keeping that same positive outlook is so key to keeping the cultural exchange positive and informative! And your outfits are incredible! Perfect for all the different colors and textures in Havana!
Great content. Each lines looks appealing and each picture looks quite unique. I have goosebumps looking at that pink vintage ride and how you could relate with people that stays there. Mostly how must commend how you choose your words while writing, it gives one satisfaction and sense of belonging. Like you said, one must visit Havana themselves. Nice!
Wow, I would love to go! 🙂
You’re going to love it.
Great pictures and looks like you had a lot of fun. Cuba looks like such an amazing place. I just hope our government lifts the travel ban sooner than later for Americans. Though it doesn’t look like that will be soon with our current chief.
Thank you and I hope so too!!! Fingers crossed for all of you in America. Experiencing Cuba (and other countries) shouldn’t have to be put on hold due to a government regulation.
I had a huge smile on my face while reading this post. I’ve always wanted to go to Cuba and dance salsa all night long lol. Havana seems like such a happy place. Love how the locals embraced you both, it’s very warm and welcoming. And your outfits on the trip, so gorgeous. Love all of them. Beautiful pictures, would love to visit some day. My travel list is so long ehn, God help me. xx
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Thanks Demilade for the compliments. Havana is definitely a happy and vibrant place and I hope you visit soon. Girl, tell me about it. My travel list is never-ending but with everything else in life, it is one step at a time and we will get there.
Hahahah the pregnant girl got to you too? Me too! But I stood my ground. She told me it was 10cuc for the diapers and in the end it was 13 something. So I told her choose something else for that 10 cuc. So she chose cooking oil. But after that every pregnant girl that greeted me I ignored big time!
Haha! Yes she got me but not my money. I was willing to help until I saw that she was just about to scam me. The hustle in Cuba is real.
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