2015, Havana: the last time we felt this separated from the “normal” world.
We’d purchased tickets in cash pesos at the airport in Mexico, boarded the plane with dozens of Cubans bringing toilet paper and tires home to their families, and landed to a world without internet.
We could write about Cuba for a long time. But my favorite memory is just how present we were without our phones or wifi or email or instagram to distract. We rode bikes along distant roads, danced on sidewalks, drank Bucaneros on the malecon. We found mojitos more easily than water. Oh, and we read books.
I’ve always insisted on traveling with paperbacks, but being in a country without internet made them so crucial. We didn’t zone out before bed scrolling instagram, we didn’t post anything, we didn’t check in with a soul. We just lived our lives in a world where everything was tactile.
Something about touching paper, for me, is the only way to read. I can’t get down with a Kindle or audiobooks or anything more technologically advanced than paper. There’s something so quiet and simple about having a real book in your hands. It grounds you. Connects you to a space that is less fleeting than flickering news apps, to a world where something that’s worth being printed in a book will probably ring true tomorrow and the next day too (which is more than I can say about the carousel of news that I’m obsessed with refreshing these days). The anxiety of the temporal is remedied by reading on paper– even if it’s just for a little while.