I just wrapped up my fourth visit to Cuba and it was, as always, wonderful. Not just to trade -15C for +30C, not just to trade snow for sand, but to connect again with a people who flourish in the face of all that is stacked against them.
This visit, as was my first trip, was centred around Varadero, a resort community in north central Cuba. The Cuban tourism marketing theme is “Cuba Autentica”; resort life isn’t the real Cuba. It’s a good chance to dip your toe into the real Cuba and then return to the comfort of your all-inclusive hotel. Varadero was my intro to the island 10+ years ago and this trip was my partner, Hope’s, first time, too.
We hired a guide and driver, and a ’56 Chevy, for a day trip into Havana and that’s the way to go. Yanelys speaks perfect English and told us a lot about the communities we passed on the way to the capital, and then showed us many of the highlights of Havana. We avoided the tourist traps – hotels where Hemingway slept and bars where he drank – but we saw parts of the city that I had not seen in two previous photo tours. (That’s not to say Havana Workshops is not good; they want you to experience more Cuba Autentico and to come home with more than postcard images. Recommended!)
Lunch was at La Guarida, an upscale restaurant concealed on the upper floors of a building being restored by the residents. I’m told it is impossible to get in on a Friday evening without a reservation. Beyonce and Jay-Z are among the celebrities that make this a required stop on a visit to Havana. I visit every time I’m in Havana.
If you’re considering a trip to Cuba, go!
Editorial: America has been at war (hot and cold) with – among others – North Korea, Japan, Germany, Russia and the People’s Republic of China. The current administration is either a trading partner with, or in talks with, all of these countries. Yet, it continues a 50+-year embargo of Cuba that has very hard on the Cuban people; more so than the leaders it wants to topple.
Why? America will point to the Cuban Missile Crisis, where the then Soviet Union installed attack rockets on the island. America often neglects that the missiles arrived after the American government financed and supported an invasion of Cuba. America, grow up and get over it.