What makes Cuba so special?
It’s been a couple of weeks now since my last trip to Cuba, and I’m sure I could make another 20 visits and I still won’t really understand the place. I know I’m not the first person to say that.
So why go? What makes it so different from another Caribbean island? Here’s where I’m at:
You don’t need to be a gearhead old-time car fanatic to take pause over the rainbow of “almendrones” in Havana. In the same way you don’t need to be a historian or architect to appreciate what’s all around you.
Havana is a big city, and it’s history is equally big. The 3 C’s are all on display:
In times of Colonialism, it was a thriving port and full of Spanish gold and pirates. The forts and cannons are everywhere to prove it.
When Capitalism took hold, Cuba was superlative – the mobsters brought their excesses in night clubs and hotels, and American money built great homes and estates. That’s all still there showing witness, crumbly as it is.
And, of course, Communism is the Cuba we all think of – and this is the one that I found so interesting – not just in revolutionary relics and soviet-style buildings, but in conversations with Cubans. They are just as eager to learn about life in the States as they are to tell you about theirs.
Yes, lovely people can be found everywhere. But it just felt like a good conversation, even briefly on the street, was enough on its own, and not just a pretext for some other less virtuous motive. Maybe it’s because Cubans are supposed to be miserable, repressed and held back, that they seem to us so friendly and engaged. Maybe it’s just the island life and the rum.
Yes, they would like– and should have– Freedom. But it doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate their strong education or healthcare. It’s so complex. Maybe Starbucks doesn’t equal happiness.
Ours was a music tour – a children’s choir from California. But even without that special focus, it still would have been a music tour. There is good, no, great music everywhere on that island. From the professional entertainers in restaurants to the street musicians in the plazas, the sounds of Cuba are what sticks with you longest, I think.
You should check it out.
Ready to see Cuba for yourself? There are still a few spots left on our “Many Faces of Cuba” tour, with two departures to choose from: