The best part about travel for me and my fiance is the people we’ve met and the memories we’ve made.
First of all, I have to preface to say that Spanish is not a native tongue for me but I love the language and culture so much that before I met my fiance, I took Spanish lessons and learned how to dance Salsa & Bachata and all the Latin dances. My fiance speaks Spanish and likes to practice with me so I get better at speaking. However, I understand 90% of what is being said.
I’ve travelled 5 times to Cuba and keep going back because I love the people and culture. Every time we go, we meet people and make new friends from other tourists to locals.
In the Spring of 2019 we met a lovely young couple from Italy, who were still friends with today.
We noticed them on the beach when everyone was gone at the end of the day and they seemed so fun, genuine and there was something different about them. Maybe it was how in love they were or how happy they were that they reminded us of ourselves.
Later that evening after dinner we headed to the lobby bar for drinks and music. Once we sat down, we saw that couple walking in so my fiance said let’s invite them to join us! I thought that was a great idea, so he went over to invite them and they joined us. For the sake of this story let’s call them Fabrizio & Anya.
The wife was Cuban and the husband was Italian and they both live in Milan, Italy. They are both fluent in Italian but the husband doesn’t speak Spanish very well and they didn’t speak English. Luckily Italian is so similar to Spanish that when one speaks Italian and the other Spanish they can understand mostly everything!
This was great because I got to practice my Spanish so I am always up for that. We talked into the late hours of the night when everyone was already gone. We laughed, cried and had so much fun talking. We saw them one more night and bought them a bottle of wine before they left, exchanged info and still talk today. They recently had a beautiful baby and we are hoping to take a trip to Milan to visit them.
The same year in the summer we went to a new resort in Cuba where we met another young couple who were musicians in the hotel.
They did speak some English, were newly married but no kids yet. We saw them performing in different areas in the resort and by far out of the other musicians they were our favourite. We guessed right away they must be a couple. We were heading back to our room and saw them at the lobby bar and felt we wanted to meet them. For this story we will call them Juan & Maria.
They were so sweet, friendly, kind genuine and we made such a great connection. We sat down with them many times after that before they would start playing and chatted with them in between songs. We made a great new friendship where we are in touch still today and talk frequently on WhatsApp & Facebook.
We travelled to a new hotel in 2020 before the lockdowns (a story for another time) and they said Juan will be playing with another group there.
We ended up meeting up with him that evening and chatting before and after the show but we didn’t want to end our trip without seeing Maria as well, so we made plans to meet at a local cafe and catch up. Unfortunately, Juan could not make it but we had a nice time catching up with Maria.
The thing about making friends on your travels is you have to make an effort to stay connected after the trip is over. Make time to video call or text and hopefully meet up again. Of course, you need to be careful & be smart with who you connect with but your intuition will tell you if these are good trustworthy people.
You will just feel it.