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Reconnecting with my Cuban Family – Part 1

Reconnecting with my Cuban Family – Part 1

CARIBBEAN, CUBA, DESTINATIONS

Arriving in Placetas where my family lives brought back many fond memories from my last visit two years ago.   It was as if we were stepping back in time as we went over the bridge entering Placetas.

 

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The streets filled with people on their bikes, horse drawn carriages,  tractors pulling carts filled with people in the back, and cars from the early fifties.

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Transportation around town
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Grandma getting a ride on the bike
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Streets of Placetas, Cuba
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Rush hour in Placetas, Cuba

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We pulled into my cousin’s house and were greeted by his wife and daughter.  They were surprised when they saw the amounts of bags and luggage we had in the back of the car staked up in the back sit.

We brought all the luggage into the room where I was staying and started sorting everything into five of the vacuum seal storage bags that I had filled with clothes, blankets, and pillows.   I had used my vacuum cleaner back home to remove all the air from the bags and flattened them so they wouldn’t take up so much room.   One bag for each family filled with (clothes, toiletries, toilet paper, medications, and spices). The room had nothing on the walls hanging.  The bed was covered with a simple bedspread, flat like an iron with no pillows in sight.  I remembered from my last trip that the pillows we used were as hard as a rock, so I made sure to bring two pillows with me.   It did however have a small a/c unit in the window.  The room had two doors on opposite sides of each other to allow you to walk thru the rooms of the house.

It was one of my cousin’s nieces birthday that night.  She was turning 18 years old.  They had a Cuban Cappuccino Dessert Cake and Ham Croquettes for her birthday celebration.  It was a good thing that I brought paper plates, paper towels and napkins with me.   I knew how hard it was for them to find sometimes everyday items that we take for granted like napkins at the stores in Cuba.  My cousins wanted to wash the paper plates and reuse them.   I was pleased to see that they were all put to good use immediately.

 

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Cuban Cappuccino Dessert Cake

 

After munching on cake, pastries and salad we went over to my cousin’s Mercedes house to say hello and deliver her bag of goodies.   Instead of getting back in the car we decided to flag down a Coachman or Cochero (as they call them in Cuba) and go on a horse drawn carriage to my cousin’s house.  The Cochero’s take you around town for only $.25 cents.

 

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Cochero (Coachman) Stand
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Cuban Horse Drawn Carriages (Choceros)
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Cocheros lined up waiting

After a five minute ride on the horse carriage we arrived at my cousin’s Mercedes house where we were greeted by most of my cousins.

 

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My family gathered around

We sat around on rocking chairs telling stories for a few hours.   During that hour, cousins came and went on their bicycles.   I never realized how many relatives we still had in Cuba until I met them all two years ago.   Who knew that we have more than 15+ cousin’s?

Our first night back in Cuba and we were greeted with open arms by everyone.   As nightfall came the darkness of the streets became apparent with little or no lights around.   Mostly the headlights of cars and a few lights hanging for passing horse drawn carriages.  We went back to my cousin’s Jose house to turn in for the night.

 

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Nightfall in Placetas, Cuba

 

More to come Reconnecting with my Cuban Family – Part II,  Remedios, Cuba, Trinidad, Cuba’s Prettiest and Oldest Town.

 

About the author

Carmen Edelson is the Founder of Carmen's Luxury Travel. Carmen has been traveling the world for over a decade. Our travels allows her the opportunity to pursuit her itch to travel to the best luxury destinations, and experience those first class tastes from around the world.

18 Comments

  1. Emma
    March 31, 2014 at 2:45 pm
    Reply

    I loved this post, what a gorgeous place! I have been to Cuba many years ago, we back-packed around a little bit so got to see more than Havana and we stayed with a few local families who were so kind, and were so much fun! I will never ever forget my time there, it was truly wonderful! 🙂

    • Carmen
      April 4, 2014 at 12:36 am

      That’s great Emma that you got to see the real Cuba. Most tourist don’t. They stay in the fancy hotels with all the amenities and don’t really get a feel for how the people live. Do you remember what cities you visited?

  2. Lauren
    March 31, 2014 at 4:07 pm
    Reply

    What a wonderful post – I am so glad that you got to reconnect with your family!

    • Carmen
      April 4, 2014 at 12:37 am

      Thanks Lauren, I really enjoyed being around the family again after all this time. I miss not having them closer.

  3. Adelina | PackMeTo
    March 31, 2014 at 7:23 pm
    Reply

    I find this fascinating. When people visit Cuba, they see such an incomplete view of the country. What a great look into what it is like to actually live there. Something as simple as paper plates and napkins that we take for granted here are difficult to find. I don’t think many people think of that. I’ve never been to Cuba, but this has definitely peaked my interest. Thanks for linking up to #SundayTraveler!

    • Carmen
      April 4, 2014 at 12:42 am

      Thanks Adelina, I agree it’s the untold stories on how the people live day by day that I find fascinating. It’s so hard to day No to my family when they ask me to send them things. I know how hard it is for them to find simple items. It had been two months since they had seen toothpaste in the stores when I was there.

  4. SJ @ Chasing the Donkey
    March 31, 2014 at 8:09 pm
    Reply

    How awesome that you got to reconnect after so long – and boy things have not changed there much. I am surprised about that. See you for part II next week #SundayTraveler

    • Carmen
      April 4, 2014 at 12:43 am

      Hi SJ, It still feels like you’ve step back in time when you enter some of these towns. It hasn’t changed in the last 50 years. I keep telling my kids that when it does change it will happen very quickly.

  5. frankaboutcroatia
    March 31, 2014 at 8:30 pm
    Reply

    Wonderful post! Everything on your photos really look like a step back in time – the streets, horse drawn carriages, cars … amazing! Love the family gathering in the rocking chairs 🙂

    • Carmen
      April 4, 2014 at 12:45 am

      Hi Frank! The traditional Cuba home has rocking chairs in the living room area instead of couches. I find that so entertaining. My husband had me buy two rocking chairs for our outdoor patio when we got back.

  6. Tara@Gypsy Shutterbug
    March 31, 2014 at 9:16 pm
    Reply

    Great Post. I spent a month in Cuba last year and loved it. We stayed in a Casa Particular with a wonderful family and appreciated how much insight that gave us into everyday life (as opposed to staying in a hotel for example). So nice that you got to reconnect with family 🙂

    • Carmen
      April 4, 2014 at 12:48 am

      Hi Tara, I’m glad to hear that you got to spend a month in Cuba with a family. I rather have it that way then stay in a hotel and pay the outrageous prices that some of these hotels are asking. I can’t see paying $300 a night for a hotel in Havana for example, when that’s what some of the locals make in a year.

  7. Ashley @ A Southern Gypsy
    April 2, 2014 at 4:04 pm
    Reply

    How great that you got to reconnect with your family and love the look into a local’s everyday life perspective 🙂 Thanks for linking up to the #SundayTraveler! 🙂

    • Carmen
      April 4, 2014 at 12:51 am

      Hi Ashley, Yes, it was very meaningful for me to see my family again. Some of the elders are getting up there in age and I know they might not be around much longer. Being around them I enjoy hearing stories from the past.

  8. John e
    April 8, 2014 at 2:01 pm
    Reply

    I made the trip to Placetas with Carmen two years ago. Amazing experience. On one hand, modern technology is around. They have nice computers & cell phones etc. but, the computers have extremely limited connectivity. Limited slow email, no web access, and I think no Twitter. But, there are perpetual shortages and there’s that odd mix of vehicles: horse drawn, peddled, and motored.

  9. Mig | CuriousNomad
    December 3, 2016 at 10:47 pm
    Reply

    Thank you for sharing your experiences and pics of Placetas. This was helpful to get a glimpse of the town. I’m planning to bicycle through there from Sancti Spiritus, then on to Remedios. Do you remember seeing any casa particulares there?

    • Carmen Edelson
      December 4, 2016 at 9:32 am

      I hope you are stopping in Trinidad on your way. I do have a very nice Casa Particular in Placetas, I’m heading to Cuba today. If you like send me an email and I’ll forward you the info. My email: carmen@carmensluxurytravel.com

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