Radio Silence in Cuba: Digitally Disconnecting

sol-cayo-santa-maria-resort-beach-ocean Last month, I flew off to Cuba to immerse myself in sun, sand, and most importantly, radio silence for seven full and glorious days.

Life had been feeling like a knotted ball of stress and my phone wouldn’t stop blowing up with endless emails, texts and other things that pinged.

Something had to be done to quiet both my mind and the CrackBerry, and it had to be done now!  (Hm, does this call for social media hibernation sound familiar to you?)

Well, during those seven days, I was on the internet for a mind-blowing total of — wait for it — ONE hour. On the resort, one might typically find me sitting alone at the beach bar with a strawberry slushy in hand, quietly gazing off into the white sands with a peaceful twinkle in my eye.

I didn’t want parties and I didn’t want to gorge myself in all-you-can-eat-and-drink madness. Taking in the beautiful, concrete-less scenery or having a good conversation with one of the resort staff to learn more Spanish or about Cuban life were all that my little ol’ heart desired.

Time inched by at an insanely slow speed.  It was magical.

cuba

The view while sipping on my daily dose of java. Morning coffees have never tasted quite the same *sniff*  

When I returned home, I was thrown into the merciless clutches of The Evil That Is Bronchitis. I quarantined myself indoors for the next several days, slowly gaining energy but never enough to emerge into The Outside World.

It was honestly a blessing in disguise. Because I don’t think I was mentally prepared to jump back into what – after Cuba – felt like a dizzyingly fast-paced, highly-connected lifestyle.

Our (okay, my) obsession with digital communication has been something that I’ve wrestled with over the past few years.  At times I’ve been a complete social media junkie; at others, I’ve wanted to Hail Mary my phone into the far reaches of Black Space.

But while Cuba served as a much-needed reminder to slow down, disconnect and get back to that thing called human interaction, it also taught me another unexpected lesson.

What I hadn’t realized before my beach getaway was how much at the opposite end of the digital-connectivity spectrum the Cuban people are situated at.  (Here’s an article by Mashable that will give you the quick low-down).

I met a few very awesome people who worked at the resort, but the option to ask: “Can I have your email?” was absent for all those I wanted to keep in touch with but one.

And while my digitalized brain had completely forgotten about that other mode of communication (snail mail, anyone?), I discovered upon my return that even sending a letter to Cuba is a highly unreliable venture.

Our ability in North America to effortlessly connect with our family, friends and people we’ve just met and want to grow a connection with was something I had come to take for granted.  It was only after my trip that I realized how lucky we truly are to have such easy access to the digital world.

That being said, I still believe we need to find an everyday balance between total radio silence and becoming a slave to the CrackBerry.  What say you?

Do you ever take time to disconnect?  Can you call it a “real vacation” if you’ve been glued to your phone/laptop the whole time? 

– Cafe <3

P.S. If you’ve been frequenting the cafe, you might be wondering whether Your Daily Dose is going through an identity crisis! Catch up here to find out where I’m at in my blogging exploits.

A great post on digitally disconnecting (or not): Consciously Disconnecting: The Case for Putting Down Your iPhone
And another excellent read on plugging out while traveling:  Turn off, plug out, drop in
Photo Credit: Trip Advisor

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12 thoughts on “Radio Silence in Cuba: Digitally Disconnecting

  1. Sounds like a lovely time. I have somewhat disconnected for months now, finding the need to reconnect to my inner introvert has allowed me to recharge my batteries. I feel you, your need to simply sit still and quite.

    • Yes, the inner introvert! I’m becoming reacquainted with her too :)

      I hope to sit still and quietly more often while in the city. Just need to find those green spaces and other sanctuaries where I can disconnect sometimes.

      Do you find it tempting to go back to the usual habits, though? Or does disconnecting actually become addictively habitual itself?

  2. Good for you Café; being adventurous getting to Cuba before the crowd, dropping connectivity so that you get back to real life, and posting about it. I can’t agree with you more. Too much of anything (food, drink, tech, money, capitalism :) ) just ruins the important joys in life. I’ll do the net ashore, but afloat, no. The real things – the sun, the blue skies, the warm water, the mermaids, people, even the boat – keep me very happy without the need for a virtual, artificial existence. I remember you struggling with this existential problem before, and your post was first, on top, when I signed into WordPress reader. I’ll be back later to click your links and read more of your work, but bravo, I couldn’t be happier than I am after reading this post. Love ya. :) :)

    • Hey Whitt, good to hear from ya! Whereabouts are you sailing now?

      Yup, I do seem to keep coming back to this issue time and time again. Well, I have plans for the future that I hope will get me much more focused on “the real things.” I’m excited for that!

      Hope you’re doing well — it sounds like you are! :)

      • That you keep coming back proves that a little voice inside is telling you something important — otherwise you’d just be addicted and wouldn’t know the difference. Creating, singing, writing, traveling, talking to real people in person, contact — they are just seeds waiting to be watered. It’s hard to kick bad habits, but every time you do it, new opportunities develop. When I escape, I keep saying to myself, “why didn’t you do this earlier.”

        Yeah, I try not to waste time being caught unhappy or down. Just lying in the sun for a few minutes, or going for a swim, puts me in a happy state. I think you are right when you realize something and say, “I’m excited about that.” Focus on what your mind and body tell you because that’s where real joy resides. Too many people get hooked on TV, fast food, smartphones etc. because of advertising, peer pressure and social expectations. Your vacation proved you can escape all that. I sorta envy your youthful ambitions, choices and enthusiasm — go for it.

        • Ah, well, acting on my realizations of what I feel will truly make me happy is always a work in progress. I think what you said about social expectations is important. It’s so easy to get sucked into that and I feel that was happening with me — particularly in terms of career.

          At the end of the day, I also believe that it’s the things with no price tag attached to them (whether it’s lying in the sun, being immersed in nature, or having a good conversation) that make life so beautiful and worthwhile. More of that, please! :)

          Thanks so much for your encouragement, Whitt. I know you’re living it too!

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