Viva Cuba! The land of Cuba today is still very much the same as it was in 1959 when Castro’s regime restricted the country’s imports and exports. Classic Chevrolets and Buicks line the roadways. Colonial houses stand from the early days of Spanish exploration. Fortresses built to protect against pirate attacks now crumble into the sea. Nearly all businesses and churches are government owned and were likely built before you were born. And restricting the presence of American companies on Cuban soil has affected the country’s telecommunications. Good luck using your credit card, booking a hotel online, or posting pictures of your Cuban sandwiches to Instagram.
Can you imagine such a scenario in any other developed country? Free of any technological or foreign distractions, Cuba’s window into the past is unlike anything else on earth. Visitors gain a truly immersive cultural experience that allows them to form an unadulterated understanding of Cuba and its revolutionary history. Explore strongholds like La Cabaña, where political prisoners were tried for war crimes during the Cuban revolution. Wander through the streets of Old Havana. Roam through the National Museum of Fine Arts, or one of Havana’s many other museums and galleries, and appreciate over three centuries worth of contributions from Cuban artists. Stroll down the oceanic Malecón boulevard, where all generations of Cubans come to eat, drink, and dance, long after dark.
Cuba’s recent rekindling of American relations has already affected the country’s economic and political landscape. Decreased pressure from the state-sponsored government has led to citizens finally being able to own businesses for the first time in over fifty years. The streets of Havana are now lined with boutiques filled with goods to entice travelers from all over the world. The Fábrica de Arte Cubano, which opened in the wake of the Cuban embargo’s dissolution, hosts concerts, galleries, and plays. Easing restrictions on private enterprise has led to a culinary explosion within Havana. In addition to restaurant staples like Doña Eutemia and Restaurant La Casa, look for newer joints serving up their own twists on arroz con pollo (chicken with rice) and rabo encendido (ox-tail soup).
Travelers to the country over the next several years will have the privilege of witnessing Cuba’s historic transition into the 21st century. During this time, Cuba’s art, culture, and commerce are sure to undergo a period of remarkable change. In a decade or so, today’s comprehensive experience of Cuba as a singular cultural landscape will be impossible to achieve, due to the presence of foreign companies. Advanced telecommunications and newer automobiles are sure to benefit citizens and travelers, but they’ll signal a change in the Cuban way of life that has remained virtually untouched for over half a decade. Let’s explore the only place in the world where time has come to a standstill!
About the author:
Dana Silverman credits her passion for travel to Girl Scouts, which provided her with amazing opportunities to attend summer camps throughout the United States during her childhood. She’s lived in Australia and New Zealand, and she’s planning a trip to Japan around her appreciation for the country’s cuisine and temples.