Felt compelled to write about the time I visited Cuba, especially since my coworkers are visiting. I went to Cuba while President Obama was serving. The significance of stating that is because the embargo wasn’t lifted yet and Americans weren’t permitted to travel for vacation yet. For me authenticity is important, so I wanted to experience the island before it was Americanized. Being a Tampa native, the Cuban population is high here. Obtaining the visas wasn’t hard the only problem was the time constraint. Whenever you plan trips, it’s just a simple click on your favorite travel site then you’re done. For that trip, I had to wait until the month of to book my flight. Now I going to tell you some things you’ll need to know, in case you decide to go:
- Get your visa
- Get your money converted before you go (otherwise the only place you can get it done is at the airport or hotel.)
- Make sure you have toiletries (toilet paper- it’s rationed there, the locals will expect tips)
- Make sure you keep change because it’s a service driven country and people will expect tips. This is how most of them make their living.
- Breathable clothing (it’s warm during the summer)
- Bring plenty of cash (Americans can’t use western union and American credit cards don’t work there)
- First Aid Kit
- Make sure you have an itinerary planned beforehand because the internet isn’t free over there.
- Get used to being offline -wifi is available for purchase or you can go to their wifi parks.
For the first four days, I stayed in Havana which felt like you were in a time machine. You see all the cars from the fifties. Now, setting up the excursions weren’t hard because they had vendors at the hotel. Havana is everything that people describe, its architecture is unique then the churches are just as gorgeous. Ernest Hemmingway’s old house was there; in addition to the art museums. The fort where the Bay of Pigs was fought is visible. The Viñales Tour includes a tobacco farm, a stop at the rum factory then lunch which had some of the best food ever.
Another site we visited was the Mural de la Prehistoria is a mural painted in 1961 by Leovigildo Gonzalez Morillo on a rocky side of the mountain Mogote Dos Hermanas. The last four days were in Varadero which was strictly for relaxing. This part of my trip spent on a resort that was all-inclusive. Varadero wasn’t as busy as Havana there were plenty of shops and restaurants. I also bought a lot of art in both cities because there were artisans selling their goods everywhere. The beaches had sugar sand with sky blue water. Cuba had a lot of black history which is something that most people don’t know. When I first got off the plane there who were white to blue-black. I saw some of the most beautiful people on and plan on making my way back. Below is a slideshow of the pictures from my vacation.