Life before I met him was great. I had been traveling on my own in Colombia for about 2 months and was feeling freer than ever. As a full time traveler, I can’t say that I have had a regular love life. But somehow, even when circumstance tells you from the beginning that it’s not going to work, having a relationship makes you feel a bit more “normal.” And I’m just a human! I need some love too (once in a while).
But long distance relationships started pretty early for me. In high school I managed to find a boyfriend 3h away from Paris. Then I met this guy when I was in Mozambique. Australian guy living in Egypt. Yup. Did someone say I like complicated stories? He was my dive instructor. Anyway, made it to Egypt but it didn’t work out. At all. We just didn’t have the same vision on life.
But it was all fine. To me, it was the universe who had put this person on my path, not for it to last, but to teach me a lesson: to listen to my gut. After this, I said no more long distance relationships.
However, something was calling me to Cuba. It was my 3rd time trying to go there (yes complications started before even going there). I just felt like I had to go. So I booked a ticket from Colombia and flew there with only 2 nights booked at a hostel.
So, I finally was in Cuba. Getting off the plane, I heard “taxi, taxi.” Turned around and there he was! I thought to myself, Cubans don’t look so bad! But then I went back to reality as I didn’t want to get ripped off. After a short negotiation (which I won haha), I entered his car and we never left each other’s side since.
I liked that he wasn’t hitting on me like the other Cubans (yes, they can be pretty intense). And above all, I felt he was authentic. We simply started chatting and our eyes ended up talking more. He dropped me off at my hostel and invited me for dinner the same night. After dinner, we drove through Havana, found some red wine, and listened to some music. We kissed that night.
Before leaving, he told me he would pick me up the next day. But I waited for him for one hour, and no sign of him. So I spent the day visiting and dancing salsa with a group of Cuban friends I met at a restaurant. When I went back to my hostel, he was there. Waiting for me in his car, right in front of it. He had been waiting for 2 hours, he said.
I wanted to leave for Viñales the next day. He said that he was going to take me, I shouldn’t pay for anything, and that I should go with him. I was at crossroads. I knew taking left or right was going to change my holidays and probably my life. But I made my choice and went with him. Not for a matter of money, but because we clearly had a connection.
Nothing happened as planned.
His car broke down several times, we got stuck on a beach in the sand (but the sunset was worth it though), at the entrance of the gorgeous island Cayo Coco. We also got into an accident. No one was injured, and it wasn’t his fault, but let’s say that corruption is something pretty common in Cuba.
The insurance agreed it was the other guy’s fault and brought him a new car. But soon the police started asking questions when they saw he was with a foreign girl. (Cubans are not supposed to date foreigners.) They took his car and he lost everything. I offered to help him and he refused. He even told me to leave and to go on with my holidays. But of course I stayed. He lost everything. Hi car, his money, his job. We took the local transportation, hitchhiked on a truck (very common there), and ended up with his family in the country side, which I loved!
But it was like being back 100 years ago. Living in a farm, waking with the sound of the roosters and the pigs, showering with a bucket, drinking the water from the well, using horses instead of a car, and going straight to the beehives to get some honey. I met his 2 kids and got even more involved in the relationship. I felt powerless because he didn’t want me to let me help him. I changed my flight and stayed one month in Cuba. Definitely a life changing experience.
When I returned to Colombia, I felt broken. Before Cuba, I felt so free and happy. After Cuba, I felt like shit. I realized I had been handling things I wasn’t supposed to, and how easy our lives are despite our problems. And I couldn’t feel guilty for not being born in Cuba, but at the same time, I wasn’t feeling right either. Cuba was just supposed to be another land to discover. But after all the things that happened to us, it took all of my energy. I was drained. It took me a month to recover.
Was love supposed to feel that way? I couldn’t judge this relationship by all those things and felt I had to go back. I knew I didn’t want to feel the way I did when I left Cuba, but was going to live with regrets if I didn’t return. We even split up, but ended up missing each other.
I kept on travelling for a month in Colombia and it was the toughest time ever. Communication has been definitively the toughest part about our relationship. Wifi being very hard to access and expensive for him, I had to be connected to Internet when he was. But being connected at the same time was impossible to plan, especially when traveling. I also had a life and could not wait all day until he was going to connect. I also couldn’t stop what I was doing when he was ready. I doubted whether I should continue this relationship, or stop right away.
Trust was a big issue, too. On his side, especially. Me being away, having fun, making friends everyday and him being stuck there. I put myself in his shoes and I probably would have gone mad too. But he had to understand this was part of my traveler life and that I was not going to give it up.
I remember one night being with some friends in Cartagena. He called and I could not activate the video. I said that we could text for about 30 min. He went mad and we argued for about an hour. I soon made him realize that things could not always be the way he wanted them to be and the time we spent arguing could have been spent differently
Cuban guys are very different culturally speaking, and I considered myself a “free spirit.” These cultural differences have gotten us into a lot of fights, because we don’t understand each other. I needed him to open his mind and communicate in a way he had probably never done before. Real talk. Not Cuban talk. Without arguing. Listening to the person before talking. He had to learn he cannot act like how he would with a Cuban girl. It’s been a long process, but I feel he finally understands my life. We both have made compromises.
I’m writing these words with him lying next to me, 6 months later. We’ve survived the most difficult part so I decided to give this relationship a try. I decided to move to Cuba, which is the last place I would like to live (even though I like it as a tourist). I’m still planning to travel every month and a half. I’ll see how that goes.
I don’t know where this is going to take us, but I don’t want to have regrets in life. For now we are happy, we love each other very much, and are trying to make things work.
I want to take him out of Cuba and show him the world. I know he’d love to, and nothing would make me happier than to see his face when he gets in an airplane and sees the Eiffel tower. (I’m from Paris.) The things we do for love…
In the end, I’m learning a new culture, to be more patient, and to be more tolerant than ever. This is exactly why I’ve been travelling for so long. To be a better version of myself. Doing things for love makes you push your limits even farther.
Cuba has been one of the biggest challenges, but what would life be without them. I just promised myself I would leave if I ever felt this relationship was turning into a toxic one, and that I am losing more than I’m getting in return. Love should not be complicated. We come from two different worlds, but in the end the beauty of love is to be able to blend in with each other and accept our differences.
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