This past January, I went to Cuba for my dad’s birthday. It was my first time there and I was so surprised about Cuba’s history that I’ve learned from the locals. Firstly, I did not expect to get a chance to meet some riders. Cuba is a small country and it can get very expensive for locals to buy skate gear. Actually in Varadero and around there’s no skateshop.
Varadero has an attractive park with a little river surrounding it. I was out skating and by chance, I met up with a 15 year old skater. He was wearing an Amigo Skate Cuba t-shirt. This is a group base in La Habana in order to help the skate community all over the country. It’s aim is to initiate kids and adults in our world.
Turns out his name was Christian and he invited me for a session with some of his skater friends. A few days later, I tried to reach them by FB Messenger. It turns out it, this was impossible. My “super wi-fi” connection was poor in my resort. I was feeling disappointed because I had lots of gifts that I brought from Canada. I had stickers, t-shirts from one of our skateshops in Montréal, (Boutique Rollin).
Two days before I was to return, I was longboarding again in the center of Varadero at sunset. I heard someone screaming my name very loud. It was Cristian with his friend. They were barefoot with their boards and we went riding around the city together. They were planning to to Judo training but when they saw me they decided to skateboard – even without shoes. It was a very funny unexpected session at sunset.
We then decided that for my last day in this small paradise, to meet up after their school class. A group of about 5 riders and skateboarding in that small park. Cristian told me that they were so stoked to see a 31 years old women, gringa, longboarding. It was great to have to have a chance to share my passion with all those amazing skaters. Each of us are unique and have a story to tell. It’s important to listen people that we find on our travels.
At the end of my travels, I finally got the chance to give away my gifts. I didn’t have a lot, but for them it was huge to have small pieces like bearings which you cannot easily find in Cuba. I learned a lot with those Cuban’s teenagers. In fact they have almost nothing when it comes to material possessions, but they still enjoying their life on that small island everyday.
We are not conscious about the things that we are missing if we don’t know they exist . One of keys of happiness, I think. Cristian is currently working hard to create a bigger group of Cubanos and bring them in that sport. Unfortunately he told me that the government don’t want to put a skatepark in Varadero, because they have one in an another city – in Cardenas This is about half an hour from Varadero. I think a park in Cardenas would be a great idea.
Definitely, I would like to contribute more to Cuba. It truly is a beautiful country. I want to help the skateboard industry to grow more there. Cristian told me that recently there were two guys from Puerto Rico who came to his city and gave him some skateboards as a gift. So if you’re planning to visit Cuba, think about brining something for the locals. For sure they will appreciate it!