My First Cuban Anxiety Attack

“Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.” - Rumi

Day 1 - June 15th, 2015

“But…” I looked around the room and counted one… two… four beds. Each was neatly made except for the one that was positioned directly in front of the door. It was in the corner of the un-air-conditioned room, right next to the wall’s built-in bookcase. I watched her place a faded salmon-pink sheet on the twin bed and with as much courage as I could muster, I said, “I am supposed to have the private apartment … with the balcony.”

Her name was Marisol. She was the housemother of Casa De Linda, my casa-particular for the next 29 days. She looked at me and I could tell that she was completely dumbfounded. I didn’t know what else I could say to rectify the situation because she didn’t speak any English.

“Paola!!!” She yelled in a super loud Cuban accent for one of the houseguests to translate for us.

Paola entered the room wearing a pair of denim daisy-dukes and a handstitched patchwork crop-top. Her clothes were too small for her stout frame but I think she preferred them that way. I pulled my iPhone from my purse and showed Paola the Air-BnB email correspondence that confirmed my stay in the private room. She read aloud in Spanish, even though it was written in English.

“Yes, you belonging in dat room. It says right here.” She showed me, as if I didn’t already know.

“Ayyy Dios…” Marisol was worried. She called the owner of the hostel and began a discussion that I could not understand. I sat on the wooden stairs, practicing patience, while Paola busied herself by trying on my sun hat and taking selfies. When Marisol hung up the phone, she explained everything to Paola, who then began to explain everything to me. I was on the edge of my seat. Was I really going to have to stay in that 4-people room for 29 days? This is not what I signed up for.

“Baaaleeeenciaaaa.” She drew out the vowel sounds in my name like a kindergarten teacher. “I luuuhhhhve your name! And I luuuhhhhve your braids!”

“Thank you.” I kept a straight face. I wanted to tell her to stop stalling but I continued to practice my patience.

“Are you Mexican? You look Mexican!”

“No. I’m Black and Dominican.”

“Ohhhh. You look Mexican because of your braids. I’m Chilean but I have a Black soul. I luuuhhhhve Black guys and I luuuhhhhve to dance.”

She closed her eyes and laughed and smiled for all of one second before Marisol yelled, “Paola!!!” She needed her to tell me what was going on with my room already.

 “Ayyy, Marisol! Calmaté!” Her top lip curled downward as she took off my sun hat and rolled her eyes from Marisol’s direction to mine. Then, she smiled as she began talking to me. “Okay, soooo in Cuba di Internet is limited an’ Linda, di owner of dis place, she couldn’t email you to tell you about di room because of di Internet was not working dis week. She double booked your room. She has a couple. Dey are coming today from Spain.”

Time froze. I needed to process my thoughts before I answered her. My head was racing with a thousand thoughts:

How could this happen?
Not only did I lose my book, I also lost $160 at the airport when I exchanged my Canadian money to the Cuban CUC.
And now you’re telling me that I cant have the room that I wanted?!
This sh’t is wack!
What sucks is, as soon as I got into the cab that took me from the airport to my hostel, the page that I began to read in my travel guide specifically said, “Do not exchange all of your money at the airport.” It suggested that you only exchange a small amount, just enough to get you from the airport to your hotel.
I was one page too late.
Now I am too late for my room too!?
This is bullsh’t.

Calm down, Val.
Calm down, Val.
Positive thoughts.
Get it together. 
Keep it together.

No point in being mad at myself for falling asleep mid-sentence on the flight over.
I just can’t believe I went from my budgeted $700 of spending money to a little over 500 CUC and it’s only my first day.
I can’t get no money out of the ATMs here.
How am I going to survive?
If only I would’ve finished that page
I would’ve known better.
But it’s too late now.
I just have to be extra careful with the rest of my money.
And be grateful that at least I am here in Cuba…
Even though I wont be staying in the room I asked for.
At least I am here.
Positive thoughts.
Get it together. 
Keep it together.

“Okay.” I finally answer, letting out a deep disappointment-filled sigh.

“Dey stay in there for two days. When dey leave, you can stay in there.”

“Ohhhh, okay.” I was relieved. Two days wasn’t so bad. All of that anxiety for nothing.

“Linda said to make it right for you she will give you free breakfast everyday. Dats okay?”

“Yes, that’s fine.” I smiled on the outside but on the inside, I was doing the lady in the red dress Emoji dance. Free breakfast! Damn right! Just what I needed, especially since I just lost $160 at the airport. Totally makes up for it! be continued...


  1. I can't even lie, I've been waiting to hear about your trip. Thanks for sharing, looking forward to hearing more.

  2. Everyday sis, I'm publishing them every day. Your feedback is always welcome.

  3. Or every other day rather ;)


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