Our tournament was in Havana and had an opportunity to drive through some of the neighbourhoods. It is a culture shock to see Cubans dressed in modern day fashions against this backdrop of architecture, infrastructure, and landscapes that have not changed since the 1950’s. Buildings do not get repaired, vendors have no signage, taxis seem to be run by a group of friends in unmarked cars, and the furnishings inside some homes is minimal. Speaking of minimal, there is no toilet paper anywhere, not even in the airport bathrooms. In the tourist areas you can pay a washroom attendant 5 pesos for a couple of sacred sheets of TP. As a tourist it was nice to experience Cuba outside of an all-inclusive resort, as we were exposed to a broader range of cultural experiences, landscapes and interactions with locals.
I found the best part of Cuba was our trip to a Juan Oscar Alvarado Miranda, a local orphanage that the Howlers sponsor. There were about 10 children between the ages of 4-6 and our team arrived bearing loads of toys, clothes, football cleats and monetary donations. We spent 2 hours playing with the kids in their courtyard and it was so grounding. They were shy at first but every one of the children found someone to connect with. The smiles on the children that day are ones that I won’t soon forget!
2012 Cuba Howlers with the staff and children at Juan Oscar Alvarado Miranda Orphanage
Photo credits to Judy Teasdale