I had wanted to go to Cuba ever since my communist revolutionary phase that I went through as a youngster. Thankfully I left that phase behind but I never lost the desire to go to Cuba and last year I was fortunate enough to make that dream a reality. I had really wanted to visit Cuba before it was open to the whole of the US because I had read some pretty scary thing about what business people were planning to do there, and I wanted to see the Cuba that I had read about, not one with Starbucks and hotels.
Thankfully Cuba was everything that I had hoped it owed be and I can honestly say that I left my heart there, and here is why.
Whatever your opinion on Che may be, you can’t deny that he was a very important person in the history of Cuba and whether you think he was a terrorist or a revolutionary, he was after all and icon. Walking in the footsteps of Che was pretty magical and from the murals on walls throughout the country, and visiting his old house, I absolutely loved seeing all of this evidence of my one-time hero.
Because of the way in which Cuba operates, there are no bar or restaurant chains which means that every time you go out to eat you are guaranteed a different experience. In my view this was a huge positive because there are no rules on how food should be served or how places should look which really lends itself to the restaurant owners getting creative.
You don’t have to travel too far in Cuba to hear some local music or even just a guy playing the guitar in the street. What I loved most about this is that instead of walking past the music like we would do in most countries in the world, the locals immediately start to dance and sing to whatever is playing.
For some reason many people overlook the beaches in Cuba and instead focus on the way of life and the way in which the government has shaped the island, I prefer to do both. The beaches throughout the country are spectacular and whether you are in the city or out in the sticks, you can find golden sand and crashing waves which instantly relax you.
I wasn’t sure what the Cubans would make of tourists, I know that tourism isn’t new but I had notions that there would be some kind of isolation mentality, I was very wrong. In truth the people were kind, welcoming and incredibly hospitable and I would return to Cuba for the locals alone. Whether I was in a bar, a restaurant, a shop or the street, everyone said hello, asked where I was fro and were dying to now what I thought about the place that they call home. Super friendly locals always make for a better trip and that’s exactly what you’ll get in Cuba.