May
04

What lockdown has been like in Havana

May 04, 2020
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Yanet Reina
Tour Leader @
Havana Urban Adventures

Hola! I’m Yanet, the Manager of Havana Urban Adventures.

I joined this local team as a guide in 2016 because I wanted to share the culture and history of Cuba with people from across the world. I became the manager just a year later and ever since I have been deeply committed to our sustainable values and constantly improving the experience for our customers.

Coronavirus has placed the world on pause, and Cuba is no exception. Even though our case numbers were low at the time, our government proactively placed restrictions on public services like transportation, education, commerce and entertainment. This has helped to keep the situation under control. Public transport has been suspended except for essential workers in areas like healthcare, banking, agriculture and security services. Like other places in the world, our restaurants are now delivery-only too.

We’ve adapted quickly, with children now learning from classes streamed through the TV! Parents are even being paid by the government to look after their children whilst working from home. Even with these adaptations to our lifestyle, we are experiencing challenges. Getting food is difficult, and sometimes we must line up for a long time. We try to socially distance while doing so, but it is hard. Nobody likes doing it, but we need to get supplies for our households and families.

Cuba is a safe place to live and we are looking at the positives of the situation. We now have time to do things that we had neglected when we focused on work. Things like spending quality time with our families. Today we have no rush. It is time to rest and plan for the future, with fresh ideas about how society can be better and how we can support each other. Our team are all safe at home doing just that. We do not know when tourists will return to Cuba, but we are eager to get back out there and share our knowledge, passion, and love for our fascinating country.

woman making masks
Everyone is chipping in to help the community however they can | Havana Urban Adventures

Solidarity and hospitality are what make Cuban people special. We’re doing all that we can to protect the most vulnerable in our community by finding essential supplies for them. We use electric scooters to shop for our neighbors who either can’t leave their homes or can’t get to the store because public transport has been suspended. Sometimes we need to travel across the city to get these supplies.

Closer to home, my mother leads by example. She is always finding a way to help. One of our neighbors recently had surgery and my mother is cooking her meals to send to her in the hospital. She is also tutoring a boy for his Math test to enter college. She hasn’t stopped producing face masks for our family, friends and neighbors with materials that we have on hand. She’s using old clothes and bedsheets to make the masks and using shoelaces to replace the elastic.

I feel so proud of her. She’s in her 70s but still has incredible energy. She keeps everybody feeling positive and inspires hopefulness in us all. She is loved by our neighbors. They call out her name “Conchita” when they need her and know she will always be there, eager to help.

She’s my inspiration to be the best person I can be during these difficult times. I hope she inspires you too, wherever you are in the world.

tour guide sitting by the water, wearing a mask
Yanet is ready to welcome travelers back to Cuba when it's safe | Havana Urban Adventures

Although we have been socially distancing and staying inside, we haven’t felt isolated. We’ve shared quality family time playing games, listening to music, performing dances and creating art.

We’ve also had time to reflect on the world around us and how we can be better. My personal hope is that we carry on with this renewed sense of care for those around us, that we’re more grateful for what we have, and that we protect our city’s heritage by preserving its beautiful architecture and investing in green spaces for people to enjoy. Havana is beautiful.

We can’t wait to spend time outside and enjoy the sunshine again!