Top 5 things to do in Cuba
- Day trip to Vinales for eco farm hike and cigar farm
- Old Havana walking tour and salsa lesson
- Beach Day in Varadero
- Visit La Fabrica de Arte Cubano and other art studios
- Eat the delicious food and drink mojitos (my fav!) at your casa particular and restaurants (El Del Frente, Finca Agroecologica El Paraiso)
Cuba was definitely an eye opening trip for me! There were things that I’ve never experienced before on a trip and the lessons learned definitely changed how I travel. Cuba was my first semi solo trip and I was initially introduced to the opportunity via my favorite yoga teacher who did group trips to different parts of the world. Although, she didn’t end up going, I still went because I was excited to visit the country. I ended up in a group of about 10 people including the yoga teacher and owner of the company (Yoga&Adventures Worldwide) – everybody was from different parts of the US and from all different walks of life. I was initially very shy at first but towards the end of the trip I think I opened up to people and the lack of internet really helped stay connect with everyone. In Cuba, there is definitely ways to get on the internet via hotspots and internet cards but I pushed myself to stay present.
There were a few experiences that I encountered in Cuba that were challenging at first. The airline temporarily lost my luggages so I went a few days without any clothes, toiletries, or pads (TMI…I know). Thankfully, a few of the group members helped me but it was definitely a struggle bus since the part of Cuba we were in doesn’t really have an accessible convenience/drug store. Eventually, my luggage came but around this time I started getting sick…ugh not again. Also, the amazing food that I was stuffing my face with (see recs above) started really messing with my stomach…I was having beans, fried everything and LOTS of pork (ropa vieja…yummm). I’m typically not eating these ingredients on a regular basis which was a recipe for a disaster and I was NOT equipped with medicine. Usually, when Cuban people get sick they just go straight to the hospital since healthcare is free and I wasn’t sure how that worked for tourists.
Travel Lessons Learned:
- Please bring a few items in your carry on to get you through a day or 2 in case your luggage gets lost (toothbrush/paste, lotion, facewash, change of clothes, pads)
- Bring a ton of medicine (Vitamin C, cold/cough/and flu tablets and syrup, pepto bismol, aloe vera)
Despite my discomfort I still had a TON of fun in Cuba. Going on a group trip made everything so much easier, there was a planned itinerary and #yogaeverydamnday so it really took the stress out of the trip. I loved the history of the country and the creativity of Havana was very striking. Our yoga teacher was also a great photographer and she took some lovely pictures of me which was nice. The culture of Cuba really inspires you to pursue your artistic outlets and we visited a lot of art galleries. I was a little surprised to see there was no Celia Cruz influence but she hated Fidel Castro and most people in Cuba adore him which I didn’t know.
Even though it may seem difficult to Americans to visit, I saw many tourists from Russia, China, and different parts of Europe. It would have been nice to see more of the African/Santeria influence but that’s for another time – I did see some people dress in all white which I believe meant that they were going through their initiation rites. Everybody seemed so happy in Cuba even though in some parts of town people had very little and the infrastructure was crumbling. This trip was a great reminder to be thankful for the little things and push through the hardships….there is beauty in everything 🙂