No matter what part of Latin America you are from, the small island of Cuba has had a major influence in your life. For me it was Celia Cruz, the iconic singer who will forever live on in our hearts, “Azucar!” For others it is the food and the “flavah”: ropa vieja, mojitos, guaguanco, and the enchantment of the forgotten city of Havana that used to be the artists’ playground back in the Golden Age of Hollywood. Once travel restrictions were lifted after almost half a century of political drama, I knew I needed to visit this land that has contributed to my essence as a Latina.
I did not know what to expect when I got there. We see on television an image of a place that time forgot, with classic cars from the ’50’s, not because of style, but because of necessity. And although this is true, you realize that Cubans are survivors of an economy that kept them away from the rest of the world, but not away from their culture that makes them so special. Their history, their food, their art is very much alive and blossoming. Governments can keep innovations from the Cubans, but they cannot keep ingenuity from the people. Despite the fact that social classes and differences are very evident, people find a way to move forward, and that is both the beauty and the strength of los Cubanos.
I enjoyed a weekend filled with country bike rides, food sampling, art exhibits and just local culture. Long gone are the days of the Buena Vista Social Club, but that does not mean that the local restaurants and bars do not have their own magic, nor that the mambo age is just a thing of the past. Music is very much alive in Cuba, and I truly believe that regardless of future leaderships that it will never die. I had an amazing time looking into the soul of a people that I hope one day will achieve their long overdue renaissance. Viva Cuba!
*Note – my trip was before new restrictions were applied under the current administration (4/2019). Please review any travel changes before booking a trip.
Check out: Cuba Connect for more information about trips to Cuba!