Rounding Out 2015 in Cuba

Havana Cars, Cuba Flag

High off of nearly a month out of the office and exploring new and exciting (and warm!) lands, I’m so excited to share with you about my most recent travels. In December, I spent nearly two weeks in Cuba, followed by a few short days in Mexico City. From there, I headed back to South Carolina to meet my new niece and spend Christmas with the family. The entire trip was exhilarating, educational. eye-opening, and adventurous. Yes, right up my alley. I plan to blog about the places I visited in Cuba, transport, accommodation, internet and answer the questions I get asked most, like “Is it legal and/or easy to go to Cuba?” because things are changing in Cuba extremely quickly. For example, my guidebook said internet cost 6 CUC/hour and can only be found at certain hotels and government-run cafes, and the connection is slow. Starting just a few months ago, internet only cost 2 CUC/hour, wifi is accessible in most parks in Cuba, and the connection was good. It’s also expected to drop in price again in just a couple of months. If you’re headed to Cuba, guidebooks are helpful on where to go/what to see, but government policies are changing so rapidly, that you will find surprises with other information everywhere you look.

Cuba is one of the most surprising and unexpected destinations I visited. I loved it more than I thought I would. It helps that I already had somewhat of an understanding of government and culture in Cuba, since I have worked with Cuban political refugees for the past two years, however my Spanish language skills are next to none. Luckily, I traveled with my co-worker/friend who is fluent, and the experience was so much more enriching. I do hope to return to Cuba in the near future, but until then I will live off of the memories and the journey at hand.

If you decide to take a trip to Cuba, I would highly recommend some research into the history of this island nation. I don’t think you’ll visit any place in the world that is quite like it- from the political propaganda that is literally everywhere to walking some of the safest streets in the entire world to the flourishing Santeria religion that was brought over by slaves. Based on many discussions I had with taxi drivers, interactions with locals, and witnessing segregation of locals and foreigners in certain situations, I think the historical context is particularly helpful when traveling here. I have friends who have not enjoyed Cuba (and let’s face it- everyone has a different taste for what they like with travel!) but I also think the frustrations that people complain about are often out of the hands of locals. And the locals are really what make this feisty place so special. And one last thing to note- do not come to Cuba if you are searching for a destination with good food. I can’t even really say that the food is not good.. I have to say that it is quite terrible! Again, it’s a consequence of government policies, but just save your appetite and fly back home through Mexico City :)

More on Cuba (and Mexico City) to come!

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