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The Lucky Peso

On my recent trip while traveling to Cuba, I happened to find a one-cent peso shining brightly on the ground. It was tiny, even smaller than a penny, and I picked it up to see if it was “heads” up so I could keep it for good luck. It did turn out to be “heads” up, featuring the Plaza de la Revolucion, and the year printed was 2016. It was a perfect find to keep as a little souvenir, the Cuban version of a lucky penny.

The universe works in mysterious ways. Because just moments before I had actually been thinking about how truly lucky I feel that I just so happened to be born in the United States. Spending time in Cuba is a very different type of travel. I don’t really believe in luck per se since I believe that you create your own luck. However, since you can’t choose your parents or where you’re born, luck is all that’s left.

traveling to cuba - the lucky peso

Warning: Traveling to Cuba May Cause Gratitude

The Cuban people have faced and continue to face so many hardships on a daily basis. They don’t have the option to travel the world like Americans do, jetting off to anywhere on a whim. Money is tight, the cost of living is high, and they most likely can’t obtain a visa. They have limited access to basic things like toilet paper and hot water, much less the luxuries of Uber, unlimited Internet, or having Google Maps in the palm of their hands.

Jacob and I met with several entrepreneurs there and connected with them as we discussed business and start-up opportunities. I was blown away by the progress being accomplished with such scarce resources. Everything is a challenge. The Internet is so expensive that it is difficult to get anything done. We were told that 1 megabyte of data costs about $500 a month for a commercial office, which is basically just enough to send and receive limited email. In the park downtown, you can buy a Wi-Fi card for $2. This gives you an hour of time on the Internet with a very slow connection. Starbucks doesn’t even exist, nor does free Wi-Fi on every corner.

Feeling Humbled

It puts things into perspective of how lucky we are with our unlimited data plans, on our tiny phones, pretty much anywhere in the world. These people barely have Internet, yet they are innovating and building companies with what they’ve got. Living in America, we are blessed with so much. Just by having an American passport, we are free. We are free to travel the world, to any country (now including Cuba). We are free to be anything we want to be. We even have freedom of expression and freedom of speech. What will we do with it?

Today, I’d like to use my freedom of speech, to first express gratitude for all that I have. I am truly thankful for all of the experiences I have had the privilege to enjoy, partly just because of where I happened to be born.

A Special Message From Cuba

Secondly, I would also like to share with you something special that was shared with me straight from my friend Adrian who is a native Cuban. I had asked Adrian what the Cuban people needed and how I could help, or if there were any items I could bring from America that would be of service to them.

His response was this: “The most important item Americans must bring to Cuba is not material, that item is respect, because, without it, all other things will be for nothing. I appreciate that ‘item’ in you and Jacob, and that is the most important thing for me. Despite all of the shortcomings in our country, we are very proud people, and love our nation just as you do yours. Come here and have fun. Cubans are always excited to make new friends, and Americans will always be welcome.”

I had to share this response because it completely portrays the feeling I experienced when spending time with the Cuban people. They are warm, genuine, and humble people. I am humbled by this experience, and I am grateful to have been reminded of just how lucky I really am. Adrian, you have my full respect. My lucky peso will serve not only as a souvenir of a great travel memory but also as a reminder to thank my lucky stars.

 

This is the 1st article of a 4 part series I wrote on Traveling to Cuba.

You can read the rest of the articles here:

1. The Lucky Peso

2. How to Hack Your Way Into Cuba, Legally

3. How to Deal With Currency Exchange

4. 5 Places in Havana You Must Visit

Get help planning your trip to Cuba HERE!

 

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A special message from Cuba - The Lucky Peso

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