Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Cuba Travel Guide

Suspended in time and content with its vibrant Cadillacs and smoked cigars, Cuba's musical charm and idle, meandering ways in which can have you ever question your house within the rat race

Not terribly back then, I bought a duplicate of Tony Wheeler's unhealthy Lands. it's meant to be a witty first-hand account of his travels through a number of the foremost repressed and dangerous regimes within the world, starting from Afghanistan to North Korea, Libya to Iraq. Taking into consideration every country's angle to human rights, terrorism and foreign policy, he asks 'what makes a rustic really evil', all the whereas describing the native lives in these closed-off countries. At the tip of the book, he describes one thing he came up with, the Evil Meter, that he uses to rate each country based mostly on 3 queries - how it treats its voters, whether or not it's concerned in terrorism and whether or not it's a threat to the other country.

I browse the chapter on Cuba terribly rigorously and though he did not have too several positive things to mention regarding the travel expertise, his account on the lives of the Cuban individuals, the residue of revolution and also the digs at Fidel or USA was infotainment enough to induce me thinking.

It conjointly created me marvel why Cuba even featured within the book considering it had all-time low score on the Evil Meter. I wasn't planning to write a thesis on the state of the globe these days. I merely needed to travel on a vacation, to a rustic that I knew may not keep an equivalent for long. I needed to go to Cuba before North Americans started arriving on an on the spot flight, while not the detour via Mexico or the Bahamas.

A Cuban dilemma

The trip had a really heartwarming begin, an opportunity meeting with this young Cuban flight attendant (currently a Spanish citizen) who was traveling to Havana to satisfy his boyfriend (a Cuban citizen). With the complete restriction around Cubans travelling and with same-sex unions not legal however, they meet once a month to pay time with one another in Havana. generally only for twenty four hours. He shared their plans to adopt a toddler with Down syndrome. i used to be glued to his touching stories throughout the flight and was slightly overwhelmed, even before we tend to landed in Havana.

The recent town

when obtaining some native tips from him as well as places to go to for salsa, we tend to kissed our initial Cuban friend goodbye within the Jose Marti International Airport. Taking a taxi into Habana Vieja (old city), we tend to reached a reasonably dilapidated house, the Casa specific we tend to had booked. Inside, it absolutely was a good looking colonial house with recent rocking chairs and ornate tiled floors. Casa Particulares are the Cuban versions of bed & breakfasts, run by Cuban families. Every day, thousands of Cubans open their homes to travelers and share their lives with them. Their trust and hospitality simply gave me goose bumps. From the minute we tend to walked in, Roberto and his mother Juanita created us feel like an extension of their family.

Tourism is unquestionably a lot of lucrative in Cuba and clearly locals who are concerned in tourism are a lot of rich. you would not be stunned to satisfy qualified engineers and lawyers, who gave up their government jobs for tourism opportunities. With the twin currency system in Cuba (Cuban convertible pesos for the tourists and Moneda Nacional for the locals), the divide is obvious. As we tend to stepped out the primary morning to steer through the streets of Habana Vieja, we tend to noticed a street vendor selling fruits to the tourists at ten times the worth he would sell to a neighborhood. And, that is when it hits you, the economy could be a mess. Where else does one see a fruit vendor on the road creating extra money in a very day than a doctor in a whole month? you may argue that an equivalent street vendor was educated and browse Gabriel Garcia Marquez, whereas this might be not possible in another country.

A great automotive museum

For many minutes, we tend to forgot economics and currencies as we tend to set our eyes on the National Capitol building, that sounded like somewhat of DC within the middle of Cuba. Add colourful recent yankee cars to the setting, we tend to may have simply been in Nineteen Fifties USA, except for the lycra-clad Cuban ladies, the distant sound of Cuban music and socialism or death painted walls within the vicinity. As we tend to saw the brilliant coloured Cadillacs and Chevrolets, it hits you that Cuba is that the greatest living automotive museum within the world. There are said to be over four hundred,000 cars in Cuba, dating back to the Nineteen Twenties, all in running condition because of their ingenuity. For a traditional Cuban family, the automotive is their supply of pride and joy, since they ply tourists at quite a hefty value. A ride in a very convertible Cadillac through Malecon, the Marine drive of Havana can value you around ten to fifteen CUC. However, an equivalent cars are used to ply locals as a shared taxi for a ridiculously low value. therefore if you do not utter a word, the driving force might even mistake you for a neighborhood (since Indians will simply pass for Cubans). we tend to then tried our hand at the little Coco-taxis (coconut taxi), that appear as if an open auto rickshaw, designed specifically to require tourists round the town. we tend to took one solely to search out out that the driving force owned a huge duplex apartment in Malecon. Wow!

Revisting the revolution

Over ensuing number of days, we tend to wandered around Havana, entering into and out of museums, book stores, galleries, theatres and cafes. For the must-see revolution landmarks, we tend to visited the Museo de la Revolucion to raised understand the Nineteen Fifties revolutionary war and also the stories of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Camilo Cienfuegos and lots of others, thought-about heroes. we tend to followed it up with the Plaza de la Revolucion, that has the massive memorial of Jose Marti, the national hero of Cuba and also the mural of Che with the famous quote Hasta la Victoria Siempre (Until the Everlasting Victory, Always). whereas one will pay plenty of your time within the museums (there are museums for chocolate, cigars and rum), the important museum is within the streets, in conversation with Cubans.

Refreshing while not the presence of any reasonably business advertising or signage, you'll really appreciate the architectural fantastic thing about Havana in its glory. it is a huge collage of varied designs, coexisting to form one thing eclectic, interspersed with wall paintings of political and social sentiments. whereas the buildings and also the alleys are a photographer's delight, you may truly be afraid to step within, lest they fall. The monumental squares in Habana, Plaza de la Cathedral, Plaza de Armas, Plaza Vieja and Plaza San Fransico de Asis, connected by cobblestoned streets, is nothing wanting music set in stone.

Cuban cuisine

Between all the walking, we tend to stopped to drink sugar cane juice to refresh ourselves and eat typical Cuban food (rice, beans, chicken and potatoes) at atiny low Paladar (family run restaurant). In broken Spanish, we tend to conversed with the individuals we tend to met and slowly started producing the items of the Cuban jigsaw puzzle. the simplest place to speak with individuals is outside the state-run ice cream parlor Coppelia, where individuals queue up for hours to eat the straightforward fruity flavors. it's really symbolic of the Socialist charm with everybody coming back along for an ice cream. Cubans like to queue up for everything as you may notice this close to public phones and banks and a lot of therefore close to the cinema, as they're huge movie buffs. The screenprinted Cuban film posters you will find everywhere are a lot of fascinating than any art museum.

we tend to had simply spent the primary few days in Havana and it absolutely was already clear to me that this was planning to be less of a vacation and a lot of of an immersion. a posh one, where you're faced with societal ambiguities, one that you simply will perceive solely by living long run in a very country. simply after you suppose you have got figured one thing out, one thing else can hit you. each story features a flipside, similar to the clever moves the recent men create within the game of dominos. you'll notice kids sporting the newest fashion and wanting a brand new bike, whereas the recent girl you met does not worry regarding eating sweet potatoes a day. you'll have individuals approach you and raise you to marry them for a price ticket out of Cuba. whereas at an equivalent time, you may hear stories regarding Cubans sneaking back to the country when facing the important world outside. you will be whisked away to shop for cigars the maximum amount as you will be sucked into a conversation regarding Ernest Hemingway.

Cubans can introduce you to their friends, friends of friends across completely different cities which could be a network they need designed while not Facebook or the net. you may hear music and laughter, the maximum amount as you'll hear No es facil (it ain't easy). And, as you are attempting to know their lives and marvel how they survive in a very place frozen in time, you may realise a lot of typically than not that Cuba causes you to question your own, and marvel how you manage with the constant modification.

Fact file

How to get there:

There are flights to Havana, Cuba via Paris (Air France) or Madrid (Iberia). Economy come back tickets value Rs one,25,000 approx.


Casa Particulares or licensed bed & breakfasts are economical and also the most suitable choice whereas traveling in Cuba. A double space with air-conditioning will value thirty CUC per night in Havana. For a lot of details, search Since web is scarce in Cuba, homeowners might take slightly longer to reply to your request. So, set up and create your bookings earlier.


1 CUC = Rs. 52 approx. it's preferable to hold Euros or British Pounds for currency exchange.

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