Cuba - an interesting journey
Havana Travel Blog› entry 9 of 10 › view all entries
Arriving in Cuba was failry stressful and unfortunately we didn't find the next 6 days much more enjoyable. We understand that Cuba is communist, we were expecting it to be rough and slightly over priced. We definitely weren't expecting it to be so expensive that it made everything hard to do!
I'll start at the beginning (it seems logical)....
We were met at the airport by the 'owners' of the Casa Particular (private homestay) we were meant to be staying in for the first 6 nights. Our free airport pickup cost us CUC$30 (about 25 GBP). We were then taken to the wrong Casa because the one we had booked three weeks in advance, which had amazing reviews on 'tripadvisor' had been booked out. The wrong Casa, which we are pretty sure was an illegal one, was filthy and did not feel at all safe.
Anyway, when we tried really hard, and after we had spent most of the morning waiting in line at 3 different ATMs and a few banks in search of money, we did have fun!!
We did a tour of the rum museum, which was fairly alright.
Following the cigar factory tour we did a tour of the blackmarket in search of cheap cigars. This was interesting and terrifying, as it invovled following shady characters from a distance into their houses down dark alleys. We were unfortunately unable to find real cigars with this method.
We also went to the famous 'Tropicana' Cabaret show, which was really good. Lots of pretty ladies shaking themselves in a sexy way. The outfits were really good and the dancing was amazing. We were also seated on a table next to a guy that went to St Joan of Arc in Rickmansworth and opposite a couple who lived near Rickmansworth Station. Of all the people we could have been sat with, it's like they knew!!
We did a tour of Havana and some of the surrounding suburbs in a hot pink, classic, American car.
Finally, we visited 'Revolution Square'. It's a very big square, much like a big car park but with no cars parked in it. Next to this is the memorial of Jose Marti, which looked to Tim and I like the 'Ministry of Love', or how we had imagined it, from Orwell's '1984' (more on this later).
A summary of my opinion of Cuba?
I understand it's a communist country but it definitely isn't a backpackers paradise. Maybe if you visit on a 5* All-Inclusive package, with all the hard work taken out of it, it's a lot easier? But you wouldn't really experience Havana.
Other holidaymakers we spoke to seemed to be having a similar experience but were of the opinion that "it won't be communist for much longer so we should enjoy it whilst it lasts". Sure, it may be cool to say you've visited a communist country, but when it isn't communist it will be a lot easier for travellers and a hell of a lot better for locals.
I don't know if you've ever read Orwell's '1984'? To me the living conditions of the locals in Cuba seemed reminiscent of the living conditions of the Proles in 1984, just set in the Caribbean so slightly more colourful.
Surely when it's not communist and money it more readily available to everyone in society the living conditions will improve and buildings will gradually be restored to their original splendour. Why should we be making the most of it now?
Maybe Tim and I are ignorant and completely misunderstood Cuba? We definitely couldn't afford another week there though, so we bailed on our visit to Varadero and are now back in Tulum where food is good and cocktails are free flowing. Bring on the empanadas!