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Cuba (part 4): Departure

The future, embargo lift, music bytes, and travel advice.

sunny 38 °C

One more thing before I go....

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I had a really amazing time in Cuba.
It’s a beautiful country with happy, bright people, who are immensely proud of their country and history.

Go Now?

Everyone says to go now, before America gets it's mits on it.
I'm not convinced that Cuba is destined for cultural dilution.....
Cuban culture is strong, and they're embracing the future!

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‘murica’s comin' tah getcha

The US embargo had a long lasting, devastating impact to Cuba’s economy and development.

To try and explain the mood in Cuba about recent embargo softening, I’ll paraphrase what one of my guides said about it…

If a company in China makes a fridge, and one single component is made in Cuba, then the US will not accept those fridges, and probably not work with that company.
The embargo has hurt us so much.
Cuba welcomes re-engaging with the United States.
Every tourist asks the same question..if I dread Starbucks and McDonalds. Why would I?
Cuba has a strong culture. Doing business again with America isn’t going to change that.
Cuban people don’t have a problem with Americans and never have.
They’re our neighbours! We used to be close!!

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Tourism - what to expect

Tourism infrastructure is slowly building in Cuba.
There are two major government owned tour companies; both very efficient with english speaking operators.
English certification is a pre-requisite for working in most tourist jobs.
The guides, transport/buses/etc, general organisation in Cuba is wonderful!
Hotel service is really professional and old school, as Don Draper would have expected.

Lack of internet is a problem, especially for DIY travellers... you'll have to trust in Cubatur, or book transport in person this time around ;-)
If it suits, casa particulars are by far the best option!!!

Many international tour companies also operate in Cuba, employing local people.
One of the most popular way to see Cuba is by bike.
A myriad of tour companies offer multi day bike treks across Cuba… all were booked out six months ahead of time, when I was there!

What to take

1. Everything you’ll need. Don't assume you can buy it there.
I didn’t really see much in terms of clothing shops, pharmacies weren’t stocked, etc.

2. Cash is vitally important. You can't really transact at all with credit card.
It might feel disconcerting carrying massive wads of cash… however withdrawing money can either be painful, or not possible at all.

3. Open ears and eyes, and you’ll have the time of your life.

4. Some Spanish - and you'll make many new friends.

5. Dancing shoes!!

Music

Discovering music was a highlight of my trip to Cuba.
Every venue I visited had live musicians during lunch and evening times.
There was even a Salsa Orchestra playing in Havana Airport when I departed.

Here is a brief summary of snippets I recorded during performances in Cuba; from tiny cafes to larger venues. The variety, passion and energy, unassuming virtuosity and genuine joy was evident at every turn...and really inspiring!!

Adios Cuba.... I can't wait to come back!

Posted by SkinnyFists 08:13 Archived in Cuba Tagged cuba havana trinidad embargo

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