CUBA

What to say about Cuba...

  • Cuba is magic. 
  • Cuba is art. 
  • Cuba is contradiction.
  • Cuba is resilience.
  • Cuba is on the move.

With an ease in relations with the United States, the hopes of Cuban people are high. A country long left isolated after the fall of the Soviet Union, Cubans have had to fend for themselves. And while the country's infrastructure is lagging, the Cuba people are quite amazing. 

Sharp, funny, and well educated, Cuban people are proud, capable, and innovative.  Cuban families and extended networks are tight knit. And people help each other. Directions, car trouble, people get involved. Sometimes even attracting a mini debate or discussion on the best solution. 

Cuba is picturesque. There's a lot of freaking charm. Being in Cuba is like walking in a dream. Old cars, incredible music, colorful boulevards, and delicious drinks... I sort of felt like I was walking in a living, breathing art exhibit. 

But it's not all bright paint and mojitos...

Behind the magic are regular people living their lives in varying degrees of economic challenge. While restrictions are easing, there's by no means free speech and an open society. Yet the entrepreneurial spirit is ever present. 

Cuba has two currencies the Cuban peso (CUP) and the Convertible peso (CUC). 1 CUC equals roughly 25 CUP. Many Cubans are paid in CUPs, but most transactions with tourists are undertaken in CUCs. So sort of a no-brainer to get yourself involved in the growing tourist market. I felt completely safe and welcome in Cuba, but the hustle is real. Indeed, less than a hassle or overwhelming as it can be in many developing regions of the world; Cubans will charm the pants and the dollars right off of you. 

The Particulars:

-How we got there? I traveled to Cuba through Mexico City, purchasing a visa in the Mexico City airport that was stamped on arrival. 

-How long we were there: 10 days

-Where we went: Havana, Vinales, Trinidad 

-Transportation: Taxis Cuba is pretty big, the roads are not all in good shape, and many of the cars are pretty old. It can be time consuming to travel from one place to the other. Taxis were the fastest but by no means the most comfortable mode of transportation. HOT and cramped with four people.

What we loved: 

  • Havana strolling-definitely worth a day or two to absorb the city by foot
  • Havana classic car city tour-Hit up the taxis in front of the National hotel at sunset to get a ride up to Revolutionary Square in the coolest car you'll ever see
  • Trinadad music and night life-really great music! Case de la Musica  is festive and a good place to be brave and show off your dance moves (in the town's square). Nearby Casa de la Trova is a more relaxed and folk vibe. Both excellent!
  • Staying in Casa Particulares. Our hosts were helpful, friendly and gracious. 
  • Taking pictures at golden hour in Trinidad. The charm is unreal.
  • Any opportunity to go swimming! It's hot!
  • Rum...
  • Smoking organic cigars in Vinales 
  • Buying art. Cuba has many a great and unknown artist! 

Trip memory:

A healthy rum buzz and a night of dancing, chatting, and enjoying great music in Trinidad caped off by the first rain of the rainy season. Getting soaked in the downpour as we skipped, danced and ran back to our Casa. In the morning, our casa host was still enjoying the drizzle saying, "The first rain of the season revitilizes. The next time you come, you won't be able to recognize me."

First photos in Gallery by Alex Fledderjohn