[Let's Talk Cuba: 2/25/2019]
Hi everyone, it’s been a while. This year I chose to sort of take it easy a little bit after last years hectic travel schedule. But I am back and I want to talk to you guys about my experience in Cuba.
First and foremost, flying into Cuba is the easiest thing in the world. You book your flight and you buy the Visa at JFK or whatever airport your using. (Or at least I assume most airports would operate the same way, but that you have to check with your local airport). I actually got a private driver as well as I private tour guide and that was cool, but you don’t have to do all that. And yes we Americans ARE allowed to go there and there is no problem at all. It is totally legal. I’m only saying this because a lot of people have asked on my Instagram and I just wanted to touch on it quickly so, book it and go!!!
This write up is going to be more of a story because that’s how it was for me. I felt like I was dreaming. Some of it was amazingly beautiful and some of it was funny and some of it was really sad. I seriously never experienced anything like it ever before.
So as soon as I realized I was flying over Cuba I was filled with excitement. I had been waiting for this moment for a long time. Even from the sky (once we were low enough) I can see its natural beauty, it was so green, so mountainous.
So we get off the plane, which by the way, the JetBlue flight from JFK into Havana was as easy as going to Miami.
Being in the airport for the very first time got me a little emotional. It is very old and as you land on the runway you see airplanes that were juts left there since I’m assuming the 60’s or 70’s. That was really wild to see. I noticed there was probably three or four planes loading and unloading. That’s it! That was wild also. I had never seen an airport so empty. As soon as we went through immigration there were two nurses dressed up like nurses used to dress back in the day as you see in old movies. They were so cute!!! Haha They asked us if we were ok, and told us we were so cute as they smiled. Just saying… I’ll take it, even from an older nurse lady… lol
So before I forget, get Euro’s or any other money you can on your way there because I realized at that moment as I was exiting the airport The American dollar doesn’t get you much there.
But do not let that scare you, they love Americans.
SO we got in our car with our driver and our adventure began. It was so different in every way. The landscape, the scene, the people the cars. The car’s are old for the most part but they do have Russian cars as well as German and Asian cars also.
So, It is not old cars only.
We checked into The Saratoga Hotel which we loved right away. The place is very clean, it was modern in an older kinda’ way. Yes we had Internet all over the hotel. The place has a roof top pool and a bar over looking the city and it was perfectly located right in the heart of the city. I loved it. We got a suite with a balcony and it was so perfect. The food was really great and the service was unreal. I highly recommended. Yes, they have way more luxurious hotels but I didn’t think it was morally right to stay in such luxury given the situation there, but that’s just me.
So the first night we had to our selves and we just walked around and tried to see as much as we could in the one first day. We realized everyone was so friendly it was incredible. We loved out first afternoon and night, we met so many people just walking around and stopping places. So we did go to bed early that day because we had a full schedule with the tour guide who was probably the best guide I have ever had. Cynthia Bordon Garcia. I will give you her information since I asked her if I could and she said “ yes, share it” you can email her at Cynthia.email@example.com
She is wonderful. Super accommodating, funny and of course, full of information. You’ll love her.
Anyway we set out on our first day and it was so perfect. She had the entire day planned for us. We saw lots and lots of stuff that I won’t bore you with but I will elaborate on the “culinary experience day”. Cynthia took us to this organic restaurant called “Ajiaco”. Oh my God, this was the perfect day. They humbly took us to their organic garden, which they somehow made happen by reading books and trial and error. But they really had it so together. They showed us all they do and told us how and why. I was amazed. They have so little but where there is a will there is a way. And they do everything with such pride, it’s beautiful. We got a chance to make the real Mojito after getting back to the restaurant and before we started making the meal we were about to eat. This was a great way to get to spend time with the locals. I recommend it. And lunch was so delicious! Yum!! This was hours long and I wish it had been even longer. After that we went to a park, which made me feel like I was in a Harry Potter movie. It was really different but really beautiful.
The second day was amazing, we went to see the cigar factory and the Rum factory and that was really cool.
After a few days I realized that, they really have NO crime in Cuba. Like no crime, no guns, no rapes and so on. Of course very little can land a local in jail. But the good news is that we are super safe as tourist. I have never been in a place where I felt so safe.
This trip was very different; yes it is really terrible that the Cubans have very little opportunity. In fact I never felt so rich. We Americans love to complain because we are so spoiled and when you go to a place like this… You can’t help but to just be grateful for how much we really have here in the USA. I just noticed a very different way of life. A way of life where being human and spending time with loved ones or even people you don’t really know, was very important to most. Money and technology are both great things but sometimes those things keep us apart. So as much as I’m a hard worker I encourage you to never be too busy to be human. At the end of the day, the only things we can take with us are our experiences. Being able to talk to a stranger and maybe help them somehow is a beautiful thing.
So I look forward to going back to this beautiful country and hopefully learning some great things and making good friends. I encourage you to do the same.