When I was seven, my life’s goal was to become the greatest cowboy the Wild West had ever seen. Eventually, I found out the west was no longer wild, and figured out that being a cowboy involved dealing with cows. Much like the Wild West and my cowboy dreams, my very real Cuban heritage was a distant, romantic thought that made me different. Even though I had heard stories of the country, I had no real grasp as to what it was. That all changed when my family took me to Cuba for my 7th birthday.
When we arrived there, my first impression was one of the drab and small houses. Every house in the neighborhood we visited was in a box-shape and was no bigger than my living room back home. My aunt’s house, where we stayed, was simple and small without much of the fancy things I was used to. The house devoid of a big screen TV and a playstation shocked and made me ask myself why we came. Yet, the kids that lived there didn’t even realize what they were missing; they just went about their days without every channel known to man and several only known to dolphins. Even more shocking, they seemed to have more fun than I usually do and smiled a heck of a lot more than I did. As I ventured into their world for a week, I found out they actually were happier than I was. In the time I spent watching Rugrats, they played baseball and danced to salsa music. While that may not be shocking, the fact that they did this without no baseballs or stereo systems should be. My cousins and most of the island’s residents played baseball using sticks as bats and rocks as balls and made their own music with bongos, weird sounds made with their mouths, and singing. They did this with bigger smiles than I had ever seen in America and when I joined the fun, I had that same smile. The Cuban people were happy just to hang out with their families and didn’t need anything else to have fun. Despite their lack of worldly possessions, they were happy and loved what they had, which was each other.
Looking back on the trip, I now know why my parents gushed over the island and why they lament what happened to it. That trip taught me a couple of important lessons that have stuck with me. First, Cubans are the best baseball players and dancers in the world. More importantly, the trip taught me to value my friends and family over my TVs and gameboys. The way the Cubans had fun with only each other impressed me to no end and I strive to do that with my friends and family. Though I sometimes I fall into the American TV trap, I try to focus on my friends and remember that some of the most fun I ever had was with a stick and a rock.
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