My Trip to Cuba
My family and I were traveling to Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, MX, when my sister mentioned she was going to Cuba by herself. My first reaction was that I wanted to go too! Besides, I felt a little worried that my little sister (who’s my best friend) would be going by herself.
Arrival & Lodging:
From the moment some friends-of-friends picked us up in their fun 1955 Ford, I felt welcome! Jaciel, who picked us up, was with us the whole time, and Jaciel’s friend Michael joined us from the second day on.
At first, we stayed at a hotel in Parque Central (the central plaza in La Habana). All hotels in Cuba are owned by the government and tend to be very expensive. After the first two nights, we moved to a Casa Particular (which is a lot like an Airbnb) in Calle Obispo, right in the center of La Habana. It was so much cheaper and nicer, and we felt more immersed in Cuban culture.
The Important Part: Food!
I ate tons of delicious fruit: guavas, papayas, pineapples, bananas, mangoes and coconuts. For dinner we went to restaurants, where I ordered things like salads with raw veggies, beans, rice, or moro (rice and beans mixed together), mixed potatoes with mojo, and steamed or sautéed veggies. And when in Cuba, don’t miss the authentic fried plantains! They’re worth the caloric splurge.
Recommended independently owned restaurants with great vegan options: Ajiaco, Habana 61, El Romero
Where We Went:
On our first day, we did a full walking tour of the delightfully colorful La Habana. There’s salsa playing everywhere, turning this touristy area into a big party!
On the second day, Jaciel and Michael drove us to Las Terrazas and Viñedos. Las Terrazas, a beautiful mountain town, is home to El Romero, the only vegetarian restaurant in Cuba! I got to chat with the owner Tito (you can watch that on my YouTube video). Viñelos is a beautiful small town in the valley surrounded by gorgeous mountains where tobacco is planted and harvested.
We visited the gorgeous University of Habana (where education is free!) on our third and final day. We stopped by the Hotel Nacional, then had a delicious dinner at Habana 61 in La Habana.
Wi-Fi available in designated areas by the government. This includes hotels, some restaurants, parks and other public areas. Besides that, there’s almost no Wi-Fi. Even if there is, it tends to be very slow.
People & Culture:
I’m not going to get into the touchy subject of politics, but I want to share some of what I saw in Cuba. There’s a lot of poverty and hunger, and resources are scarce, meaning life often isn’t easy for Cubans. Even so, people are happy and joyful. They like to sing, dance, laugh and enjoy life. They’re helpful, kind, welcoming and warm, and there’s an incredible amount of artistic and musical talent! The lesson I took away from the experience is to always be grateful and find ways to enjoy life.
Architecture in La Habana is beautiful and the outskirts have so much gorgeous nature to offer. Racism is nonexistent in Cuba; people are of all colors and backgrounds, and there are no racial divisions.
Cuba has so much to offer, but more than anything else, the people make you want to go back.
If you’ve been to Cuba or are Cuban, I would love it if you wrote your recommendations when traveling there for everyone reading this blog post.