“Los Niños Nacieron para ser Felices” Over the years many Cubans have said these words to me.
A firm belief at the very roots of Cuban culture is that children are experiencing a unique and magic time of their lives. Great Sacrifices are made to preserve the wellbeing, imagination and sense of joy for Children in Cuba. This makes Cuba a very special place to travel with children.
Even when there was a great scarcity of food during the “Special Period” after the collapse of the Soviet Union, people spent many hours in line at the famous ice cream parlor, Copelia. Copelia was “built for the children.” When Kids play in the streets the whole neighborhood looks out for them.
When I brought my kids, who are half Cuban born in California, to Cuba it was like Charlie visiting the chocolate factory for the first time. They were embraced by kids playing everywhere, by endless homemade cakes and sweets, by the whole extended family interacting with them, and by the popular Reggaeton songs that made all the neighborhood kids sing and dance. Both Kids cried as we boarded the plane to leave, saying they already missed Cuba.
Children are very visible in Cuban society. Almost everyone gives them a nod or a smile.
Cubans might tease one another that they never had a real childhood and because “no tenia infancia” they are scarred and acting weird. It is seen as a birthright of children to experience this warmth and playful time in their lives.
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