“Indiana,” we told him as he introduced us to his 20-year-old daughter Sheila — a girl with short black hair, lighter skin than the man, and a sad look in her eyes.
“You like music? Follow me.” He told us as we shrugged and followed. We had a free afternoon and we figured we would let him show us a different side of town.
Once we walked in, the whole restaurant was excited to welcome us. “These are the Americans!” He shouted. We sat down in front of a band and laughed and clapped as they performed. We felt so excited to meet Cubans willing to let us share an experience like this with them.
After clapping along with the band, clinking our mojitos and laughing with our new friends, he told us more about the girl with him he called his daughter and bought us all drinks.
We were halfway done with our drinks when he turned to us. “Would you girls be able to help my daughter?” He explained to us that she needed powdered milk to feed the baby. We looked across the street and saw a supermarket, so we thought we could get her 25-cent milk.
“You stay,” he told to Josh, the only male student with me and my female classmate. “Let the girls go.” Josh looked at us and continued to stand. As we followed Sheila out the cafe, Josh followed behind. After Sheila led us past the supermarket, I gave my two peers a look. Why did we pass the supermarket? She led us a few feet down where she pointed to some broken down red doors. “Just go in there,” she said to us.
Suddenly everything clicked and my heart started pounding. This wasn’t right. “We’re not going in there.”
Then, a woman came out with a bag full of two pouches of powder and Sheila gave her a nod, as if saying, this is them. “Twenty-five pesos.” she told us. Everything switched in my mind and I realized I was a few decisions away from a bad situation. It was far from my first time studying abroad, yet I realized how drastic different countries are.
Studying abroad comes with all sorts of experiences, some good, some that teach a lesson.
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