Cuba

Welcome to our Cuban adventure! My two college girlfriends and I ventured to Cuba for a week and experienced a trip unlike any I’ve been on before. Our guidebook fittingly described Cuba as “Timeworn but magnificent, dilapidated but dignified, fun yet maddeningly frustrating – Cuba is a country of indefinable magic.”

We strongly resonated with this essence and the various contradictions that soon became apparent. Incredibly beautiful landscapes, immaculately preserved cars and a richness of tobacco, coffee and sugarcane, in contrast with stark poverty, virtually no wifi and extremely limited produce (we ate more cheese sandwiches than we care to remember). A sort of time capsule, we felt as though we were living well before our time and realized how much we take for granted back home, certainly a humbling experience.

We started our trip in Havana, then went west to Viñales (area known for its rich tobacco), before traveling south-east to Trinidad, where we hiked and swam in the Caribbean. Cubans are exceptionally kind, good-natured and optimistic, despite the sombre economic struggles. We soon learned that our tour guides and bartenders alike were well educated – prosecutors, doctors and software engineers, but they opted for a career in tourism, as it was lucrative in comparison to the meagre $20CUC they earned a month from the government. Hit with a sense of guilt, we tipped heavily and even more so after learning that tobacco and coffee farmers are entitled to only 10% of their produce. The remaining 90% is owned and sold by the government (Japan buys the bulk of Cuban coffee).

Despite not being a trip that I would classify as relaxing due to the various challenges (the guide book makes reference to Cuba being an exhilarating roller-coaster ride), we enjoyed two days at the beautiful, white sanded beaches in Trinidad and sipped on $3CUC mojitos. Since coming home, I came to the realisation that I’m glad we got to experience Cuba as it is now, preserved in its authenticity before it starts to really cater to tourists.

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Gasparee Caves in Trinidad

Gasparee Caves in Trinidad

Park Guanayara

Park Guanayara

Our airbnb in Trinidad

Our airbnb in Trinidad

staircase at our casa paticular in Havana

staircase at our casa paticular in Havana

Tobacco farm in Viñales

Tobacco farm in Viñales

Viñales

Viñales

Coffee plant

Coffee plant

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