Ayla Travels The World, Part 15: Cuba

It ends with an even 10. 

Ayla’s last stop on her three-month world travel is country #10: Cuba. 

A country unseen by practically all Americans, Norwegian Ayla had no such diplomatic difficulties. Below she shows us Americans, and the rest of the world, what she discovered on this island her final week of travel. 


Last destination!

I met up with my dad’s friend Ole and his Cuban wife Yadira at Copacabana Resort in Havana, Cuba. It was totally random that they were on vacation in Cuba the same time as me!

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Yadira and me

They took me to this lovely lady who runs a casa particular, something similar to an Airbnb, and I got this beautiful room!!

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Even got a huuuuge private balcony!

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My dad is a carpenter, and Ole sells supplies to him. Ole and Yadira showed me around and took me out to eat.

Live music at Copacabana
Live music at Copacabana

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The next day, we went out exploring the streets.

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Okay. I’m in Cuba, so we kind of have to talk about cars! One out of three cars are actually new. (I got this statistic from a very accurate counting technique: sitting in a restaurant counting cars. Really good statistics, I know.) The Russian Lada is still Cuba’s favorite brand. 1/3 were Ladas, 1/3 were new, and the rest were old cars.

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And there were plenty of Cocotaxis!!

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This bugger took me for a ride to some of Havana’s most popular locations.

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The following day, we all went to the Cuban handcraft market.

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We also got to enjoy a LOT of great food.

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Then was the posh side of Cuba:

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Cuban ‘mall’ Commodoro!

To my surprise, Cuba is quite modern. They have the latest phones, music, and technology. Wifi was pretty much everywhere. They didn’t use cards a lot, though. (Whereas people don’t really have cash at all in Norway.)

Another piece of regular life in Havana: taxis! Yes, riding in one of these, I felt like such a local. Almost no tourists use them. It’s basically a shared taxi. You waive at them, and if they are going in your direction, they let you on.

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My first trip I paid like 6 CUC (Cuban Convertible Peso) and thought, “Okay price!” Then when going home, I only paid like 1! Totally ripped off the first time and thought it was a good deal! Stupid tourist moment. Oh well.

Childhood dream completed! You just got to love Cuban taxis.
Childhood dream completed! You just got to love Cuban taxis.

I also thought I knew Spanish. Well, I didn’t. Turns out if you don’t speak or hear the language for three years, you forget it! Who knew? Because of this, Cuba was the first time I felt like I was traveling alone.

I did have a great time. I went on walks around and got to know the neighborhood. I did one of my favorite activities: get lost in a new place–discovering hidden cafes, streets known to only Cubans. But I was really sick of being alone after a few days, even though I met up with Yadira and Ole most days.

There was this Couchsurfing meetup my last night, so I went for it! I ended up having such a great night! We went to this amazing salsa club/art gallery thing.

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It was a closed-down factory and had all this amazing art and a huuge room with salsa music! They taught me how to dance like a proper Cuban, and we lounged on the roof talking politics, culture, and all the other interesting things you can talk about with a friends from another country. We also met Leo from Cuba and his friend from Texas. (Isn’t it still illegal for Americans to go here, though?)

Couchsurfing friend
The Couchsurfing organizer

The next morning (my last in Cuba–and last on this entire trip), my new friends met me for a swim and pizza for breakfast before I went on the plane. An amazing end on an amazing trip.

My Cuba video: 

My next article will be the last of this series. I return home to Norway and take a look back on this amazing three-month voyage. 


Ayla is a 20-year-old Norwegian who loves to learn new things and study new cultures. She’s Christian, and in her more normal life (when not eating donkey sandwiches in China and taking trains across Italy), she does dancing and karate. For any questions for Ayla or about travels, please comment below. 

And if you’d like to share your story on The Periphery, please email me at Brandon@ThePeriphery.com. We’d love to hear all about your adventure.

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