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Cuba in 2024

Cuba, officially the Republic of Cuba (Spanish: República de Cuba, is an island country comprising the island of Cuba, as well as Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos, 4,195 islands and cays surrounding the main island belong to the country. Cuba is located where the northern Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and Atlantic Ocean meet. Cuba is located east of the Yucatán Peninsula (Mexico), south of both the American state of Florida and the Bahamas, west of Hispaniola (Haiti/Dominican Republic), and north of both Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Havana is the largest city and capital; other major cities include Santiago de Cuba and Camagüey. The official area of the Republic of Cuba is 109,884 km2 (42,426 sq mi) (without the territorial waters) but a total of 350,730 km2 (135,420 sq mi) including the exclusive economic zone. Cuba is the second-most populous country in the Caribbean after Haiti, with over 11 million inhabitants.

And now for the rest of the story...don't worry, there will be supporting material to counter this argument.

Many Cuban and foreign publications encourage people to travel to Cuba for tourism, for its beaches, marine life, nature, cuisine, or music. The most idealistic speak of "traveling in time", selling a romantic image of its dilapidated buildings, classic cars, or extolling the "dignity" of living in poverty. If you are thinking of traveling to Cuba for any of these reasons, whether to get to know the Cubans closely or to enjoy their natural charms, here are 6 reasons why you should not.

Cuba is a dictatorship and citizens do not enjoy civil and political rights and freedoms. Communism is enshrined as the only ideology that rules the country. There is no multi-party system, freedom of expression, market, or free press. The regime controls Cubans through repression, coercion, propaganda, and indoctrination.

High prices, scarcity, and long lines mark the daily life of Cubans, who suffer from uncontrolled inflation that increases the price of food and basic necessities to unaffordable levels with the salaries of Cuban workers. All services are practically collapsed, from Public Health to education. The stores are empty in Cuba. Both those for tourists, as well as the stores where Cubans buy the scarce rationed products that the State sells in a "basic basket". The controversial newly created MiPymes have more variety, but their prices are exorbitant.

The increase in crime and criminality in Cuba is alarming, reaching unprecedented extremes, such as score-settling and assaults with firearms. The economic and migratory crisis has opened the doors to a hell where poverty and lack of opportunities throw many Cubans into the sea or to survive outside the law. The police are effective in repressing Cubans, but ineffective in containing criminal violence.

The economic crisis in Cuba, caused by the communist system imposed by the regime, has one of the biggest problems for the dictatorship in this 2023 in the fuel crisis. Without fuels, the country suffers a generalized paralysis, which goes from agriculture to services. Historically it has behaved similarly, but now even tourists have to queue for a long time to buy fuel. To this must be added the blackouts, those power cuts that Cubans suffer daily and for hours, and occasionally the tourists themselves.

The above could be mitigated if there was a good public transport network, but the reality shows that Cubans have to wait hours or pay astronomical amounts to be able to move. Tourists usually do not use these transports, because of their poor service and because they expose themselves to theft and other dangers in them.

The idyllic image of buildings in ruins, used as a claim for tourists, hides a painful reality of the country: Cubans have been suffering a housing crisis for decades. The lack of investments in public works, in restoration of architectural heritage, in water services, lighting, sanitation, and garbage collection turns Cuban towns and cities into unhealthy and dangerous environments, with occasionally deadly collapses.

My thoughts on the above...

Due to decades of political isolation, Cuba has remained largely undiscovered. Its colonial cities and white sand beaches are yet to be overrun with tourists. And the island is still untainted by chain corporations such as Mcdonalds and Starbucks.

This all adds to Cuba’s charm, with locals genuinely happy to see the tourists that do reach this colourful isle. So if you’re looking for an authentic travel experience, this is by far your best destination.

Take a walk through the streets of Havana and it’s like stepping back in time. Back in 1960, former political leader Fidel Castro put an embargo in place to ban all American imports. As a result, Cuba is an eclectic mix of goods that have survived the past six decades.

The most obvious example of this is the American-style classic cars you’ll find on Cuba’s streets. Dating back to the ’50s, these vehicles are a source of pride for their owners and have been lovingly maintained without access to the original spare parts. You’ll see all kinds of models, ranging from colourful Chevrolets to Fords, creating a living car museum.

Whilst there are plenty of hotels in Cuba, nothing beats staying in a Casa Particular. Translating to mean ‘private home’, Casas Particulars are essentially Cuban homestays as you pay to rent a room in a local’s house or apartment.

This form of accommodation is widespread across Cuba and gives you a unique insight into local life. Eating Cuban food and learning about the island’s history from your host is undoubtedly the best way to immerse yourself in Cuba’s culture.

As you might expect of a Caribbean Island, Cuba is home to plenty of beaches. A total of 300 to be exact. Each offering picture-perfect stretches of powdery, white sand lapped by turquoise blue waters.

Some of the best beaches include Playa Los Flamencos on the island of Cayo Coco, Player Pilar in Cayo Guillermo and Playa Ancón on Cuba’s south coast. But wherever you choose, you’re going to feel a million miles away from home.

Cuba enjoys a warm, subtropical climate, making for a great holiday destination at almost any time of year. There’s plenty of sunshine, with the island on average observing eight hours of sunlight a day and around 300 sunny days per year.

Cuba does experience two distinct seasons, with the dry season lasting from November to April and the wet season from May to October. But despite being named the west season, these months tend to see rains fall in bursts of showers, often drying up quickly to reveal clear skies once again.

Although WiFi can be found in Cuba, it likely isn’t free and certainly isn’t up to the download speed you’re used to back home. But whilst the lack of internet might seem a problem to some, a digital detox can actually make your trip.

Without the distractions of social media or emails from work, you can truly switch off and immerse yourself in your Cuban experience. You’ll most likely surprise yourself by how little you miss Facebook or Twitter.

Although Cuba’s cities and beaches often steal the spotlight, the island is also packed with natural attractions. To the southeast, the Sierra Maestra mountain range is home to waterfalls, hidden caves and a variety of flora and fauna. And those that enjoy a hike can take on Pico Turquino, Cuba’s highest peak.

Further west lies the UNESCO World Heritage-Listed Vinales Valley. Encircled by karst hill formations, this verdant valley is adored for its unhurried pace of life and stunning landscape. Explore the surrounding countryside and working farms on horseback, by bike or on foot. There’s also rock climbing and bird watching on offer.

Cheers and have a great day! See you in Cuba. We are currently looking for 6-10 singles or couples to join us for a food and culture adventure...Off grid style!

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