Why Cubans don’t write travel dates on calendars

Growing up in a Cuban family, I learned of many superstitions that may seem strange to others.

If you call someone by another person’s name, it’s because that person was talking about you.

Never brag about things, for fear of the evil eye.

Witch-like telepathy between the women in the family is super real.

And most importantly, never write important dates of travel on a calendar.

This last one is, I think, my mother’s biggest rule in life. She oftentimes won’t even write down important dates of events, and she would never ever write down flight numbers or departure times. (This is not to say she won’t remember important flight information, as I’ve learned through my years of travel she tracks my flights like a hawk once she knows I’m on board.)

The reason for not writing important travel dates is, again, due to the evil eye. That is, negative vibes flung at you from people who are jealous or the universe punishing you for thinking your plans are above its control—Cubans in general are just a tad into fate in case you can’t tell.

My first week with the Peace Corps has reminded me that our “crazy” superstitions should really just be honored and not questioned. Before leaving for Los Angeles where I would meet with my fellow volunteers before heading to Indonesia together, I went to write in my mom’s planner my flight time. She quickly snapped at me a classic “Are you crazy? You can’t write that down!” To which I rolled my eyes and covered my words with a sticker of an elephant to symbolize “Trip to Indonesia.” As if I could trick the universe.

Next day, I travel to LA, meet my group, training is going great, UNTIL, we meet at the end of the day and are told: We have some news and there’s no easy way to say this, but the visas aren’t ready.

*I laugh as the universe slaps me and my 73 counterparts in the face*

We learn we will not be flying out the following day as originally planned, but instead, we will be staying in LA for about another week as we wait for our visas to be complete.

And that’s that. I placed the evil eye on myself by challenging the universe and here I am one week later, not in Indonesia. (Although I have spent a lovely week eating Mexican food and bonding with my fellow volunteers, so all and all I’ll let the universe have this small victory; but I’ll knock on some wood, so it knows I’m not interested in a rematch.)

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