Pitbull told us his “mind is free…opposite of Cuba”, but if that’s the only reference you've heard about this Caribbean gem then keep reading on.
2015 marks a huge year for the country, with the US and Cuba agreeing to improve ties after more than 50 years of strained relation.
This raises some interesting questions around the balance between preserving a predominantly un-Americanised culture and the need to improve human rights and the standard of living… but what does it all mean for you?
If you want to get to Cuba before McDonald’s (and commercialisation, rampant consumerism and all other things Western influenced do), in order to experience the impacts of a 55 year embargo on the rich tapestry that makes up Cuban culture, then now is the time to GO!
Here’s our pick of the Top 10 reasons travelling back in time to Cuba needs to be number one on your wanderlust list:
1. The Architecture
Undoubtedly full of some of the most colourful cities in the world, Cuban architecture is infused with an eclectic mixture of Moorish, Baroque and Art Deco flavour. The hustling capital of Havana, and UNESCO World Heritage listed site Trinidad will most definitely not disappoint, providing a picture perfect backdrop every time.
2. The Revolution
There are two sides to every story. For history and politics buffs it doesn’t get any better than walking through a real life museum of historical events that have shaped and defined the country you’ll stroll through today, with plenty of museums to give you an insight into the Cuban version of what went down in La Revolucion.
3. The Beaches
You’re in the Caribbean. Need I say more?
4. The People
Arguably some of the most photogenic, hospitable and kindest humans of planet earth you’ll have the pleasure to meet. Brush up on your Spanish skills to get the most out of the experience and to gain some pointers about appreciating the simple things in life.
5. The Resorts
Though they won’t give you an insight into “the real Cuba” and to be honest you might not even get to meet any Cubans there, if the all-inclusive life is what you’re about then Varadero or Cayo Coco offer some of the best beach-side luxury resorts in the Caribbean.
Image via. Imgkid
6. The Streets
Every Cuban festival and party quickly spills onto the streets and noise curfews are just not a thing in this country. You don’t need salsa lessons, just a bit of confidence and a sense of adventure and there will be plenty of people willing to teach you how to release your inner Latina/Latino to keep you dancing until the early hours of the a.m.
7. The Rum, Cigars and Coffee
Cohibas are considered the finest luxury cigar in the world, Havana Club is your rum of choice and you have access to some of the best tobacco and coffee farms to see the good stuff come straight from the source. It’s a sinners paradise.
8. The Music
It’s infectious and it will follow you everywhere. La Musica sets the theme for the journey, with some of the world best Jazz embedded in Cuban rhythms being played everywhere from the classiest of venues through, of course, into the streets.
9. The Vintage Cars
Where else in the world can you get driven around in a Pink Cadillac for less than your local countries taxi fare? Barred from importing newer models, the ever thrifty Cubans have kept there mid-century Chevys, Buicks and Studebakers running along, adding another pop of colour to their vibrant cities.
10. The Casa Particulars
In 1997 the government allowed Cubans to rent out rooms in their houses to tourists, providing Cuban families with a fresh source of income and marking the beginning of some small scale privatisation in the country. Spanish for ‘private house’, the casa experience allows you to become truly embedded in Cuban culture and build some genuine relationships with the people who call this incredibly country home.
All photographs are the authors unless stated otherwise