Ah Cuba! Close your eyes and visualise Cuba. What do you see? Is it classic American cars and Salsa dancers? Cuba is all of this and so much more. Cuba is wondrously beguiling, full of anachronisms and paradoxes, oozing with sensuality. Crumbling colonial buildings bespeckled in peeling paint. Classic American cars in powder blues, dusky pinks and mustard yellows. The stale smell of cigars and spicy hints of rum linger in the air. Walking through the cobbled streets of Cuba is like being transported back in time and leaves every hair on the back of your neck standing at attention.
Emerging from isolation, Cuba is a riot of colours, energy and contradictions. Beautiful old buildings that have been decaying for decades stand next to lovingly preserved structures; Cuba is a rich dichotomy of old and new. With its nostalgic postcard vibe, Cuba leaves you excited and intrigued, ready to explore every popular tourist spot and every hidden back street.
A country shaken from an economic embargo that lasted the better half of a century, Cuba is a place of uncertainty and confusion. It will leave you frustrated by its complexities one minute and mesmerised by its beauty the next. Pulling you into its seductive slow dance then twirling you around spin after spin, Cuba is a dizzying dance.
MUSIC AND MELODIES
With a long list of diverse influences, Cuba is a melting pot of musicality. Whether you’re strolling through a park or sipping cocktails at the local bar, the pulsating drum beats and the strumming of guitars will ring in your ears and tingle through your toes. In its bustling city streets, you are met with an energy so colourful and charged, as lives unfold on the sidewalks and interactions play out on the curbs. In a constant celebration of song and dance, the cities comes to life as a contagious beat overtakes you charging you with an energy I have never felt before.
COCKTAILS AND COASTLINES
Known for its stunning strips of pearly white sand, Cuba is home to some of the Caribbean’s most breathtaking beaches. And then there is the Malecón, an evocative 8 km sea wall drive alongside the heart of Habana, where glimpses of every day life unravel along the coast. Children playing, lovers entwined, fisherman tossing their nets into the ocean; the Malecón is a microcosm of Cuban life. Nothing is more stunning than watching the sun dip into the horizon, casting its colours across the shore and soaking you in the warmth of its glow. Unaffected by the disturbances of technology or the internet, you can simply sit still for a moment and lap up the eternal spirit of Cuba.
LOCALS AND LIVING
While the sweet notes of local musicians ring in my ears and the burnt yellows and oranges of Cuban sunsets are imprinted on my mind, nothing compares to the unforgettable interactions with the spirited locals.
Strolling along the back streets of Vedado in front of a tattered old building, a lady in blue caught my eye. With her table set up in front of her porch displaying mismatched pieces of Tupperware for sale, she had a scarf draped around her neck. An unusual pairing given it was such a hot day; much too hot for a scarf; and I found myself being drawn over to her table out of sheer curiosity. As I approached, I noticed her scarf moving and upon closer inspection realised it was in fact a snake taking residence upon her shoulders. Through my very limited Spanish and exaggerated hand gestures, she told me the snake was her loved pet, was a native species to Cuba and the snake shared her daily life going most places with her. It was a small yet incredibly beautiful interaction and one of many.
Cuban people are high-spirited and generous with their time and willingness to help you discover their beautiful country. In Cuba always expect the unexpected.