The Cuba you see in the news is by far the worst representation that country has. No land can ever be truly portrayed by a camera man and a news anchor. Especially if their intentions are to criticize and demoralize a culture, instead of understanding why a country is the way it is and why its cultural heritage is so strong.
Being in a relationship with a man from Cuba brings alive the things about that island that news channels and political parties seem to overview. For one, the Spanish language is so rich and full of adjectives and colorful localism that it turns at times into a myriad of rhythm and syllables that blend with each other like a piece of music. For a while now I have put myself under the goal of learning Spanish, with the fervor of a college student. Going beyond everything I have learned, and everything I have heard from my husband, every chance I get to speak with his relatives turns into a whole semester in Language school. Cubans like to speak and so, sometimes I shut my inner Québeçoise just to allow myself to understand them better, and in return I usually come fully learned on a topic. If you get a Cuban rolling on any world event, you will be surprised how much they are aware of current concerns in a global sense. They thrive on the knowledge they have cultivated, and what better way to learn Spanish than to have ongoing conversations with as many of them as possible.
If only they would speak a little slower, things would be a little better, but “you can’t always get what you want”, right? In my husband’s family, there are economists, pharmacists, visual artist, carpenters, writers, musicians, chefs, hostel manager and even a Santero, which is a voodoo priest of the Yoruba religion. Yes, they do kill goats, pigeons, rabbits, chickens and do all sorts of offerings to all the deities that nature can hold in her realm. It’s a very romantic and musical belief, but we will leave that for another article.
Having so many different topics to start up conversations with, I usually choose an uncomplicated one, for as you know this is semester number forty-five of Spanish lessons, so small start usually wins the long-term race. I am sure that if you are reading this you are probably in the same circumstances as I am, or maybe you are contemplating the idea of dating outside your own culture. Do not be afraid, each family has more than four or five relatives that will gladly spend some of the time you have while visiting them talking with you about their country’s history, while teaching you some pronunciations, verb placements, use of synonymous and sentence formation. More times than you would think there will be somebody arguing with someone else about how their lessons deviate from the learning quadrant, and you will see how good of an outcome this is for you, since you will be getting dual views of one single topic. Hope this helps when you go visit your in-laws.
It is a shame not to see the advantage of this. Love how nice it is conquering your fear of school rooms while speaking another language. What better presentation than being taught by those who wish to understand you better, so you can also understand them better, it is a win-win situation. At least this is how it is with my new relatives in Cuba when we speak, whether in person or on skype or through IMO, which is the most famous long-distance video chat for Cubans inside or outside the island. Every time I talk with them I learn something new and then I put it to use with my husband. And all this for the price of nothing, pretty much. Do you have any idea how much a Spanish course costs? Rosetta Stone Spanish courses runs around $150 USD. Yes, you read right, one hundred and fifty. Do you understand me now? Use your relatives as your instructors and as a bonus, you will receive also different phonetics exercises, as everyone pronounce words a little different.
I will continue to write about these different perspectives of Cuban Culture and how I have taken advantage of their acceptance of this Canadian girl into their hearts. The nature of cross cultural relationships is a broad powerful house and it comes with the possibility of becoming a world class citizen. Don’t let anything or anyone tell you otherwise.