10 Reasons to Visit CUBA Right Now
Authenticity, Simplicity, Kindness
Cuba surprised me in many different ways, good ways. Its authenticity and uncomplicated lifestyle is something difficult to find in our fast-changing, demanding world. These 10 reasons to visit Cuba are my attempt to make you take this trip as soon as possible before the country changes and globalization hit its core value – simplicity.
What makes one country unique can be represented in many ways. For Cuba, all the elements shared below to have one common feature – authenticity and simplicity. Why should you visit Cuba right now? The answer is because all these special things that make this country so intriguing can start to disappear in the next years. We can thank the globalization and political “warming” for that. And although I very much wish to the people in Cuba better, richer and happier life, my last wish is that these core features of the Cuban reality stay the same. Is it possible? Probably not.
Cuban people are always in a good mood (I don’t know how they do that, really!), always easy and smiling. It is part of their mentality but perhaps is the wisdom you gain from a lot of suffering. In every case, you will not need to deal with aggressive and disturbing locals as it is in many other countries. Another, very interesting for me observation, was that Cuban people come from a lot of different backgrounds. The colourful diversity, as much as the cultural diversity, is something, at least in my eyes, which makes Cuba amazing place. You just can’t get bored with these people!
The Simplicity of Cuban Life
Every aspect of life in Cuba is simple. The houses, although poor, are with good organization; the food is scarce but pure; ethnic diversity is rich but communication very easy; art is bold and colourful but naïve; Colonial architecture is splendid and full of details but well maintained and easily accessible; beaches are long and numerous but almost empty; Maybe some people see just the “poor” side of life in Cuba, but I saw the richness of human attitudes, the absence of complications … It felt like home.
Art in Cuba is very important. Similarly to music and dances, it is ways for the people to express themselves in a restricted environment which is Communist Cuba. And very naturally, the themes and colours are typical for the Caribbean Islands. Warm yellow, bold red, azure blue … all colours of the rainbow can be seen in one painting. Some people call this popular style “tourist art”; I call it “deliberately naïve”. The rudimentary styles of painted expressions are not due to inadequate skills or simplicity of mind but because they reflect the Cuban reality – characterized by easiness.
Old American and Soviet Cars
I couldn’t believe my eyes but yes, these old cars in Cuba (think – from the 50s) are still well used and maintained. Since the American embargo in 1960, it was impossible to get spare parts to repair these American beauties. That’s why Cubans started to use parts from Soviet cars and engines from Japanese and Korean cars. Now, most of these cars are painted in strong colours and are used mostly for the amusement of the tourists. I hope they will continue to circulate on the roads of Cuba as it is impossible to see them in such abundance nowhere else in the world.
Colonial Architecture in Cuba
I found that the most beautiful building in Cuba from colonial time is the Romantic Museum in Trinidad. But this is a very limited statement because the architectural heritage in the country is vast and has different faces. Some buildings, as I have said, are well maintained and you can see them in their whole grandeur. But others, alas, are abandoned and left to a slow death. As a fan of classical architecture, I like both of these types of buildings. Those in good shape are excellent for a visit but the others that are left to fade represent the past and the way of life that Cuba had in the past.
Food + coffee + cocktails
The ingredients used in the food and drinks in Cuba can be a count on the fingers of a hand, figuratively speaking. But more important is that these products come from local farms and are not treated with GMO and other heavy chemical additives so common for the modern world. The good news is that, in recent years, street food stalls had opened in many Cuban cities, which makes sampling traditional Cuban food more accessible for travellers.
Another thing to remember is about cocktails. Ah, these cocktails. Cuba is a universe of refreshing drinks with different colours and different alcoholic basis. The common denominators are the fresh fruit juices that make every non-aromatic alcoholic beverage to smells and tastes like a potion of paradise.
Colours are everywhere in Cuba. The other so colourful country where I had been was Morocco but unlike Morocco, Cuba has more vibrant sunny colours. I don’t know from where to start when explaining about colours in Cuba.
Maybe I should start from the old cars painted in shocking pink and red; the red handmade bean necklace you can buy at many places for a dollar, or the variety of exotic fruit trees you will find in the gardens in Vinales Valley? You will find colours also in the hand-embroidered tablecloths at the small souvenir markets. But my favourite colour in Cuba was the warm brown colour of the handmade leather shoes and bags you will see everywhere. It is so RARE to find a product that is so simple that is totally eco-friendly without really having an intention to be such.
Tobacco Valley – Vinales
The best part of our trip was the day spent in Vinales Valley, the paradise of tobacco. You can visit some of the local farms, to see how people live there and even to stay in some of the houses. You also get a closer look into how the famous Cuban cigars are produced and you can try to make your own.
The tobacco farmers are hard workers, the families work hard and most of the field work is done in the old way – with horse and plough. The hens look happy freely walking between the humans and pecking the rich brown soil in search of tasty treasures. The valley is famous for its karst formations and looks surreal because of the mogotes – the rocks rising like islands above the valley.
Even if Varadero (the popular for mass tourism all-inclusive beach resort of Cuba) is not my favourite part of the country, I should admit that some of the best white sand beaches are located here. As an island, Cuba has a long coastline and the relief of the beaches varies a lot – from soft sandy to rocky, from crowded with tourists to totally wild. I know many people travel to Cuba with the only reason to spend their vacation on the beach in blissful inertness. And although I’m not one of these people, I should admit that this is one of a hell good reason to visit Cuba!
Climate & Nature
Cuba is one of the best destinations you can visit in winter. With its Caribbean climate and diverse nature, it is a place that offers you a lot of entertainment possibilities. Some examples – trekking in Escambray Mountains, visit of Gran Caverna de Santo Tomas (the biggest cave in Cuba) and swimming with the dolphins at Cayo Largo. While the rest of the world writhes in the cold embrace of the winter, you can be on the beach or on streets of Havana dancing your way through the passionate and lovely Cuban people.
I know the money issue can be quiet a headache. This Cuba budget article might help you to learn what to expect to spend.
Cuba is trending destination and very quickly will become even more popular for mass tourism. Why don’t you start planning this long dreamed Caribbean vacation right now? Start by choosing one of the many hotels in Cuba and plan your flights and itineraries according to the cities you want to visit.
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