Being a travel agent, it’s very common to be asked (almost on a daily basis actually) “So, where are you off to next?”
It’s not my next booked trip, however it is my GOAL to get to Cuba before the year 2017 is out. This answer usually provokes a confused face and the response of why? Or in the words of my Dad “Madeline, why on earth would you want to go there?”
The answer is, in fact because Kim Kardashian and her family recently toured the country, took controversial selfies with images of Castro and filmed multiple episodes of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” in Havana.
Just trickin’! There is so much more drawing me to this little, alligator shaped, island of the Caribbean and I’ve managed to pinpoint a few for the purpose of this blog.
The Cocktails, Cigars and the Jazz
You would know that Cuba’s two most renowned exports are Tobacco and Rum. Bacardi rum was actually first made in Cuba before the Castro government had a tanty and exiled the founding family, now Cuba’s signature rum is Havana Club and thus Cuba is the birthplace of Mojitos, Cuba Libres and Daiquiris. Mojitos just happen to be my all-time favorite cocktail and I can imagine that sipping on a Mojito at a little local bar in Havana, with a cigar in other hand and jazz music playing in the background would be just as satisfying as having a Singapore Sling and throwing peanuts on the floor at Raffles in Singapore.
A break from First World luxuries
Up until 2008, Cubans were prohibited from owning mobiles phones or computers and currently it is still illegal to have the internet operating within private homes. Internet that is accessible is slow, costly and censored. In the westernized world, it’s too easy to check Facebook or Instagram literally hundreds of times a day, although giving up this habit would be a challenge at first (especially with my mum freaking out about not being able to contact me) I think the break from social media would be relaxing and liberating. You could live in the moment without uploading everything as it happens. Cuba is also one of two countries where Coca Cola is banned – the other being North Korea!
Whether it be the bright, candy colors of the colonial/art deco architecture in Old Havana, the washing hanging from the windows, the vibrant paint of the classic 1950’s cars or the blue of the Caribbean Sea, Cuba is definitely a country of color. It is a country rich in art and culture with locals often creating murals on any empty walls or setting up to sell their paintings on the street, it would be a beautiful sight to see!
Before it's ruined by the crowds and the big labels
Since the Obama Government eased up on travel restrictions to Cuba and re-established their Embassy in Havana, American tourism to the island has increased already by a massive 77%! The big brand hotel chains such as Starwood Hotel & Resorts, Marriott chain and Air BnB have already received authorization to start building resorts across the country. Ocean cruise lines such as Carnival and NCL are now also permitted. Soon, there will be modern day cars, a Maccas on every block and the locals will lose their genuine interest and friendliness towards tourists. Peak season will soon be like it is at the European hotspots, where there is so many tourists crowding around that you can’t even see, let alone appreciate, what you’re there to look at, and the price of my beloved mojitos and Cuban cigars are sure to skyrocket.
Hence, the reason I MUST get to Cuba NOW!
Watch this space!