In these days of big changes, my thoughts go back to Cuba.
It’s been a peculiar place to visit, full of surprises, bad and good, of disappointments, but surely it is a place like no others and incredibly photogenic.
Last week the first cruise from Florida disembarked in Havana. Americans can now get individual visa to visit Cuba (before they could only visit on a tour). This of course will increase the tourist flow to Cuba and will bring some changes.
When I visited in December 2015 it felt a bit fake, as if there were 2 levels of life in Cuba: there’s the Cuban life and the touristic life; these two levels are separated and very rarely overlap. Cubans have their restaurants, their cafes, their taxis, their buses, even their hotels, and quite often (like the Casas Particular) tourists can not enjoy them. But I will talk about this more in detail in a different post.
While I was traveling in Cuba I was a bit disappointed because of the cheating and the sense of “falseness” I felt looking at the beautiful areas of La Havana with the charming cafes and the amazing buildings, well restored for tourists to admire, when the rest of the town is falling apart (I have talked about it in my post about La Havana).
But now I can only remember the beauty I have seen. A walk on the Malecon in the evening is alone worth the flight: the view of the sun setting behind the skyline is breathtaking; locals and tourists meet here to chat and to flirt, and between one kiss and the other they try to avoid the big waves flooding the sidewalk; meanwhile the old american cars drive on the avenue that runs along the sea. It’s a postcard that I will bring with me for a long time.
Of course the rest of Cuba also has some spectacular sights. I remember fondly the lush vegetation of Vinales and the ox-pulled plows. The kid dancing in a garden in Trinidad, oblivious of the public she has attracted. The fishermen life and laid-back atmosphere of Baracoa. The welcoming attitude of our Cuban-Italian hosts in Cienfuegos.The charm and the colors of Sancti Spiritu, like Trinidad, but much more authentic. The young Cubans working at the resorts in Guardalavaca, relaxing and dancing on the beach before their shift starts. The Cubans skyping with their family abroad in the few spots where there is wifi.
I don’t know how this opening will affect the other world feeling you have traveling on this island. I hope Cuba won’t change much, otherwise it will lose all its allure.