Cuba: WOW, what a Country!

From November 2016 to January 2017 Rocío and I experienced an unbelievable trip to Cuba. This post summarises the holiday and includes links to many stories and highlights.

Cuba The Land of Miracles

The aptly named book Cuba: The Land of Miracles by Stephen Smith; although from an earlier time, Cuba’s essence remained as described in the book

From reading about Cuba beforehand I had some idea what it would be like. I knew there would be limited supplies available and that the country had two currencies and a bad reputation for food. In the weeks before leaving I repeatedly advised Rocío that Cuba was different, so much so, I almost felt like a broken record. However, it was important that we were prepared as well as we could be. After all, we planned to be there for almost two months!

Havanatur's Camaguey office appears both open and closed

State-owned travel agency Havanatur’s Camagüey office is both closed and open; aspects of Cuba defied logic

Celebrity Sightings

Cuba’s mystique began showing early in the trip and continued throughout. Celebrity encounters book-ended our Cuba adventure. On our first full day it was Plácido Domingo and on our final evening we came across Enrique Iglesias’ Súbeme la Radio video shoot.

Fidel Castro’s Death

However, those encounters didn’t match being local for the death of one of the 20th century’s most influential people: Fidel Castro. The former Cuban revolutionary and leader’s passing focussed our trip and for 10 days we followed memorial events across the island.

Cuban Newspaper Front Pages After Fidel Castro's Death

Cuban Newspaper Front Pages After Fidel Castro’s Death

Havana

Havana is Havana and it was where our holiday started, experienced new year’s eve and ended.

Artemisa Province

Between Pinar del Río and Havana we stopped to visit Soroa’s lovely botanic gardens and waterfall.

Pinar del Río Province

Cuba’s world-famous Viñales landscape and Cuba’s largest cave system were explored in Pinar del Río Province.

Camagüey Province

Seeing Camagüey Province’s flamingos was Rocío’s overall Cuba highlight. Elsewhere, we woke up Christmas morning on a hut floor of an ecological reserve containing giant millipedes.

Holguín Province

Our time here included something forbidden for foreigners: catching a Cubans-only Ómnibus Nacionales bus.

Santiago de Cuba Province

This is where the Cuban Revolution began. It’s also where we ate tree rat and received a ride with the Cuban Air-force.

Guantanamo Province

In Cuba’s far east we visited Guantanamo Bay, saw the aftermath of a severe hurricane and enjoyed awesome hot chocolate.

Cuba in General

Cuba is the most unique country I’ve visited. The country’s geography, culture, history, economics and politics have influenced every other aspect of society such that it is like nowhere else.

Our Classic Car Ride Back to Airport

Our Classic Car Ride Back to Airport

7&1/2 weeks of Cuba’s magic, oddities, contradictions and miracles were enough. It was time to return to shops having supplies and other things usually taken for granted.

Terrible Food at Havana Airport

Terrible Food at Havana Airport – chicken and vegetables served in a polystyrene clamshell container accompanied by plastic cutlery

Our final moments in Cuba encapsulated the place: a classic 1950s American car ride to Havana airport at which we ate a crappy, overpriced meal served in polystyrene.

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