On July 4, 1989, I was in Prague. The trip started several weeks earlier by going through Checkpoint Charlie from West to East Berlin. There, people shared how they had to put their name on a list to get a used car and needed to have the money to buy it ten years later when their name came up. Or they had to start all over.
In Ukraine, which was part of the Soviet Union at the time, our dinner was potatoes and pieces of fat. It’s what was available to eat. And after dinner, someone tried to buy the clothes I was wearing while in the bathroom.
In Poland, I asked for ice to cool my drink. I was so embarrassed when I asked what was taking so long, not knowing they didn’t have any. They bent over backward to freeze water and bring it to me an hour later. So, when Take Me Home Country Road by John Denver played in the bar in Prague, I really missed home and all the things we have.
Fast forward to 2013. I was in Havana, Cuba and the person I was speaking with shared his excitement that Raul Castro had just granted permission to the people to speak their thoughts. The “grocery store” was just a room with a chalkboard that shared the dates when rice, beans and a few other items would be available. You couldn’t just go in and buy whatever you wanted. There were no stocked shelves. Food is rationed.
We have our challenges. We also have a lot. Sometimes it takes seeing other places to appreciate and be thankful for all we have.