Have you ever wondered what it feels like to travel back in time? Classic cars, vibrant colors surrounding you, and amazing music! That’s what Cuba is in a snapshot. Cuba was on the top of my bucketlist for the longest of times. I have always been intrigued by the history of Cuba. I vividly remember writing a history paper about Cuba in high school and doing extensive research on the the challenges and adversity that this country faced. I also remember researching the culture, the education and healthcare system. I was intrigued back then and I told myself I would travel there some day, and so I finally did in my adult life!
Before I go into our trip to Cuba, I would like to share some interesting facts:
*The main island of Cuba is the largest island in the Carribean
*Cuba has largely a state planned economy. This means most companies and production centers are state owned and run by the government. The majority of Cubans are employed by the state. However, in recent years the private sector is expanding.
*People pay for staple food and supplies with coupons from their libretto. A libretto is a ration book with coupons for monthly food supplies such as rice, sugar, meats) and basic supplies such as cooking fuels. Food and basic supplies are rationed due to economic challenges.
*The literacy rate is 99.8%. The educational level in Cuba is very high, education is free in Cuba.
*Cuba has two national currencies: The Cuban Peso which is the currency the locals pay and trade with and the Convertible Peso which tourists and visitors use and which only can be used in special shops. The Cuban convertible peso is about 25 times more valuable!
Gordi and I had the opportunity to travel to Cuba during Obama’s presidency as travel restrictions to Cuba looked hopeful and as they were beginning to easy. We were only there for 2 days. But boy, it was a memorable experience!
We started off with a historic tour throughout the city of Habana. This included a tour of El Morro, Plaza de Armas, Plaza Vieja, Plaza de la Revolucion and The Christopher Columbus Cemetery.
We had the most refreshing Cuba Libre Cocktail at El Morro and the best mojito at a small bar near Plaza Vieja. We ended the day at an artisan market where there was a warehouse of the most incredible art I’ve seen. Paintings, trinkets, souvenirs, purses, etc. I wish I had more room in my luggage to bring more art home with me.
During our trip to Cuba, we also got to experience riding in a classic pink car. Our driver, Adrian, drove us to the famous Tropicana Cabaret Show. We enjoyed dinner and front row seats to the Tropicana Cabaret Show. That evening, we cruised the Malecon, where we witnessed the sunset and locals waving at us hello as we drove by. The Malecon is famous and you probably have seen it make in appearance in the Fast and the Furious Movie Pt.7. Gordi and I felt like we traveled back in time as we cruised through the city.
Our regrets during this trip: we should have stayed longer, brought back more cigars and rum, and packed less so we could bring home more art!
If you plan on visiting Cuba, you should know that you CANNOT access or use any USA credit cards, USA debit cards, or access any of your USA bank accounts. You must bring CASH ONLY. Bring plenty of cash, just in case of an emergency!
Every time I hear the song “Hasta que se seque el Malecon” (Until the Malecon dries up) it makes my heart stop and think about Cuba.
People dancing to live salsa, twirling around with a huge smile on their face is what you’ll see in the streets of Habana Vieja (Old Habana). And I promise you’ll never forget it. Regresaremos un dia, Cuba! (We’ll come back someday, Cuba!)