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Travel

Day 5 - Sept. 22

Posted October 19, 2015
Updated October 21, 2015

WRAL's Leyla Santiago sat down and spoke with Lazaro, a babalawo - the equivalent to a priest.

With the pope in town, I wanted to take a look at religion in Cuba. Cuba was once an atheist state and now, the pope is drawing crowds in the thousands. I wanted to understand what that transition is like for Catholics and others.

We stopped by another church and talked to a priest. Then I asked Andy if he knew anyone practicing Santeria, a popular religion with African roots on the island. He introduced me to Lazaro. Lazaro is a babalawo. It’s the equivalent to a priest.

You go to them with problems. They pray to the gods of santeria and help guide you. I wanted to see what a session was like. Lazaro suggested I be at the center of it. I agreed.

I watched him call upon his God and pray for me.

“What is troubling you?” he asked.

I didn’t immediately respond. Perhaps he thought I didn’t understand his question.

“What are you seeking?” he clarified.

Any other day, I may have responded quickly. Today, I couldn’t bring myself to ask for anything. I spent the entire day yesterday visiting crumbling homes with empty refrigerators.

One man told me, "I am not asking for a Lamborghini. I just want a nice house and food on the table."

I was reminded that I have plenty. What is troubling me? The small stuff that doesn't matter.

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