when the opportunity to travel to Cuba popped up in my inbox, i immediately inserted the hand-raised emoji and said count. me. in!! with the Embargo stated to be lifting soon, i knew the time was now or never. i’ve been dying to see this mythical island for as long as i can remember and was certain it would be an amazing cultural experience. i just couldn’t pass up the chance to visit a country that is so very close, yet so many worlds away. honestly, i don’t know where to start. there are so many more questions in my head after experiencing Havana. we saw so much hardship but also so much beauty. i’ll try to sum up my trip the best i can through photos. hope you like old cars…
my best friend’s husband put together a surprise trip to Cuba for her 30th birthday and i’m still in awe that we pulled it off considering there isn’t much online about what to see or do and we planned on visiting without a proper “people-to-people visa”. a handful of my friends have visited recently and after emailing them all, i felt way more at ease about “sneaking in”. there are 12 ways you can qualify to visit cuba and we qualified for zero of them. but hey! it was okay because with a “people-to-people visa” you are required to stay at certain hotels, eat at certain restaurants, and are forced to stick with a guide the entire time. we wanted the real deal (and to feel like badasses) and ended up winging the entire trip. that is exactly my kind of traveling.
the minute you land on the island it feels like you’ve stepped back in time. besides both husband and wifey leaving their cellphones on the airplane, we were off to a great start at customs. who needs a cell phone in Cuba anyways? show a Cuban an iPhone and they will look at you like a you are crazy person, which we completely are. the entire country has been so cut off from the rest of the modern world. there are no credit card machines, no ATMs (bring all cash), and very regulated/limited internet. you won’t see one chain or international business. this all could change in the near future but part of me thinks that it won’t.
in our observations, the Cuban government has let their country fall to shambles and left their people to fend for themselves. you can see it in every building you pass, in the rubble you step over in the streets, or in observing the people create something out of nothing. i’ve heard Cubans are the most resourceful people in the world and i believe it because they’ve had to be. it was hard not to picture just how spectacular Havana was in the 30’s and 40’s.
we heard that there were mountains on the island but wanted to see it firsthand. we hired a driver for the day, squeezed 6 people into a 1940’s buick, and trekked it to the town of Vinales. one of the most breathtaking secrets i’ve ever stumbled upon! who knew Cuba had mountains?!
after posting Cuba snapshots on my instagram, my inbox has been inundated with emails about how we actually made the trip. if you are interested in going or looking for tips, please email me at Meag@TheEggOutWest.com