Chasing Joy In Cuba
Happy 4th of July guys!!!
This year is going so fast. Can you believe we are over halfway through 2017? I can’t believe it. What I also cannot believe, is that I have been back from Cuba for almost two months and I have not told you guys about it.
I went to Cuba back in May. While I was aware of the travel opportunity for a little while, I waited until almost the last minute to decide to go. I was hoping my frozen embryo transfer would have been successful. As you guys know it wasn’t so I decided to take advantage of the travel opportunity and go to Cuba. My thinking was who knows how long US citizens will be allowed to go so I better go while I can. I’m glad I went too because recent news reports indicate that we may not be able to go there much longer.
There are two main reasons it has taken me so long to write this post. One, I took so many photos and videos It would take me forever to get them organized into a slide show for you guys. Two , It was such a unique experience that I don’t even know how to begin to tell you about it. I was nervous and did not know what to expect when preparing for Cuba. It ended up being a great experience. The difficulty in telling you guys about my trip comes from my not having anything to compare it to. I have not been anywhere like Cuba or on any vacation like my time there.
Normally my vacations are leisurely with some site seeing, shopping and good food thrown in. This trip was more like an adventure. Our days were so full there was little time for leisure. We visited Havana and the mountain/ farm areas of Vinales. I even went on a river boat ride inside of a cave. That is something I would never do on my own.
Here are a few things that I want you to know about cuba.
- Right Now US. Citizens cannot get a tourist Visa for Cuba. There are 9 Visa categories that will allow US Citizens to visit. We went using an education Visa. Those of us who blog could have gone using a journalism visa. I stuck with education because I went to cuba as a true vacation. And while I figured I’d probably blog about it I did not want to be under any obligation to do so. Because of our Education Visa our days were filled with tours to museums, historical sites, and important agricultural sites.
- Cuba is safe. We felt very safe our entire time in Cuba. I did feel a little uncomfortable the two nights my cousin and I walked around near our hotel after dark. But I would have felt uncomfortable in any unfamiliar city at night. We saw no crime, no fights, no arguments, no homeless, no public drunkenness,and very few police officers. In fact the few police officers we saw were just standing around talking to each other. I noticed their guns were attached to their holsters with a coiled cord (like an old school land line telephone cord) as though they did not pull them very often. During our entire time in Cuba we only saw one person begging or panhandling. That man had no arms and no legs so he was likely unable to work.
- There were dogs and animals everywhere. The dogs were technically strays. However unlike what I have seen in the states the stray dogs were clean and healthy looking. They did not look like they were hungry and they were clearly being bathed regularly. I got the impression that the community took care of the dogs that no one ignored or mistreated them because they were strays. In addition to the dogs I saw more livestock there than I have anywhere else. We say people bringing their cows to the side of the highway to graze. There were horses, pigs, goats, chickens, and ducks everywhere we went.
- Get a tour guide. We had an amazing tour guide who made our trip amazing. She was so knowledgeable about everywhere we went and about Cuba in general. I did not learn much about Cuba in school. One of the highlights of my trip was hearing about Cuban history and The Revolution from her Cuban perspective.
- The food was so good. One thing i kept hearing before I left for Cuba was that the food was not any good because they have food rations making the spices and seasonings we are used to scarce. Well everything that I ate was amazing. The food was so fresh. We ate lots of chicken, fish, and rice and beans. I normally don’t even like rice and beans but I did in Cuba. My favorite meal was the one we had at the organic farm. That should not be a surprise. I do think the key to our having had an amazing food experience is thanks to our tour guide. All of the places she took us to eat were what we would call mom and pup restaurants. I don’t know that we would have found those restaurants on our own. Two of them were in the tops of residential buildings, one on the top floor the other on the roof.
I could go on and on listing interesting things about Cuba. But, I will stop with those five. If you follow me on Facebook and Instagram you probably have already seen a lot of my Cuba photos and videos. If you didn’t see them you are in luck. I finally put them together in a slide show. Just click the video below and enjoy.