I am writing this post 10 days after I returned from Cuba, but it feels like my heart is still there. I loved that country so much that to be honest I don't even know where to start talking.

I was never crazy about going to Cuba. I love traveling so of course I was curious to go there one day, the same way that I feel about several other countries, but it was not on my top 10 list of places to go. This trip just happened thanks to a group of friends who wanted to go there and basically put Lindsey and I in their plans.

As usual, I did a lot of research before going, which was great because there was basically no internet there, so it was nice to have a plan with some things to do. However, one of the best parts of the trip was not having internet and the things we did without planning, just living the moment.

When we arrived in Havana and started to walk around the streets of Havana Vieja, a lot of feelings and questions came to my mind. Being in a communist country that basically stopped in time in 1959 made me think about many things that I hadn't paid much attention before. At first, I felt sorry for the young people growing up there. I wondered how my life would've been like if I was born in Cuba. I like to dream big, work hard after my goals, and I'm always looking for something new to use as a purpose. I thought that I would hate to be from a place that has even less opportunities than Brazil.

And then, on the second day of the trip we met David, a young Cuban man who was so intelligent, charismatic, honest, and above all happy. We met him in a bar and he ended up showing us a few places around Havana, and at the end of the night I found out he didn't have a home. He told me that he eats and sleeps at different friends' houses every night. My eyes were filled with tears right away. I just didn't want to believe or accept that such an incredible young man had to live that way. I started thinking about why some people are born with so many privileges while others have nothing. I closed my eyes and thanked for all the opportunities I have. I felt stupid for complaining about such stupid small things sometimes. And I went to bed thinking about David and the Cuban people.

The next day we found David again, which was not very easy considering we had no internet and no cell phones. And it was on that day that I started to realize that the lack of opportunities and ambition is what makes the Cuban people so happy. Every time I looked at David he had a huge smile on his face. He introduced us to some of his friends, and they were always singing, joking around, and laughing. That was when I realized how wrong I was at the first day when I arrived in Cuba. I noticed that David, who had nothing, lives happier than many wealthy business men I know in New York. People who work and stress out so much that they barely have a chance to enjoy the money that they make or the stuff that they own. And no matter what, at the end of the day, life goes by so fast and can't take nothing from here.

I came back to NY wanting to enjoy more and worry less. I want to spend more quality time with my friends, to sit down to talk without worrying about the time, and to not use every spare hour to do an extra job.

The trip to Cuba ended up being much more than another beautiful place to see. It touched me in ways that I did not expect and somehow changed the way I see certain things. I can not wait to go back and spend more time to learn even more about this incredible place.

outfit 1| outfit 2 | outfit 3

Raquel Paiva

Brazilian fashion and lifestyle blogger based in NYC