In 2016, when President Obama began to pave the way for travel to Cuba from the US and Cuba there was excitement in the air for all those who have a passion for travel. Maybe not everyone, but a LOT of people. I was one of them. At first we had to take a cruise from Jamaica to sail around Cuba, stopping at some interesting places along the way.
The program was actually quite good, but I didn't know at the time that I'd be creating my own adventures to the island a short time later. The first time visiting the island, everything felt like a new experience, or a different world
Here we are later, and a pandemic has taken place. Who would have thought? Tours for Cuba are on the books, almost filled and the excitement is building. Once again, it's going to be new. It's going to be different. One thing that stood out from the very beginning in 2016 was that Cubans are resilient and resourceful. While I know there will be hiccups and mistakes made during the opening, the Cuban people will figure it out.
It's a time for hope. Private enterprise has been on the rise significantly since 2016, and the current government is moving to encourage more of it. To be perfectly honest, they don't have much of a choice. Tourism and private ownership generates quite a bit of revenue for the island.
Like here in the U.S., when government overreaches it has negative consequences. The people are better at business than the government. On my first visit, a typical offering of a sandwich was a bun, ham and ketchup. Yep, this is what the government thought was a Cuban sandwich. I should disclose that a Cuban Sandwich is not Cuban at all. Contrary to those Cubans in Miami, it's the Cuban immigrants to the Tampa Bay region of Ybor City that invented the treat. It was made for the cigar factory workers, who were of all nationalities. The Cuban bread represented Cuba, the ham Spain, the salami Italian, the pickles German. Nothing that could spoil was added because it would do so quickly in the Tampa heat, but I digress.
It saddens me to say that a good portion of U.S. Citizens are misinformed about Cuba, it's current status and how it came to be a socialist country. I think politics and government are overrated, and in the case of both the Cubans and the Americans the real power lies with the people, so long as they are awake.
Cuba is full of outstanding architecture, artists, food, culture, history and a very different way of living life. The Cuban culture is worth exploring. It's not difficult getting to Cuba. You will feel safe there. You won't get arrested. Like anywhere, follow the rules and etiquette. I go over all these things before leaving to the exotic island of huge mangos, big green avocados, succulent pork, excellent rum, and yes, cigars. Come explore with me on Havana Heartbeat in January, February and November of 2022.
My experience in travel goes back over 12 years. I'm an explorer, a discoverer, a daredevil, writer and creator.