Beautiful Cuba

Beautiful Cuba

The 103FM Editorial 05 01 18

Over the holidays just ended we visited Havana, Cuba.

It was great experience, noting the determination and tenacity of its more than two million people who have survived penalties imposed by many countries, lead by the United States.

In spite of those sanctions, Cuba’s tourism is thriving. Thousands of Europeans, Canadians, South Americans, Asians and yes, a spattering of Americans, are flooding the Caribbean’s largest island republic in increasing numbers each year.

In return, Cuba is increasingly providing the basic types of services visitors expect.  The quality of food generally is not 5 star or even One on the Michelin scale. But presentation and restaurant decor give it that international flare.

A handful of Hotels offer standards basically 3 and 4 star, with one in particular, rated above 5 star quality. The Hotel we stayed at, provided the biggest and best variety of breakfast buffet ever experienced anywhere.

Yes, the efforts to maintain the old buildings are grindingly slow for want of money, the place is by and large unkempt and littered, but the lure and attractions of a near 500 year old city, seemingly stuck in several time- warps, is mesmerising!

Brightly painted huge American cars and vehicles of the 1950s, working like clockwork, are everywhere….not in their hundreds as some say, but in thousands. That they’ve been able to keep these cars going, says a lot about its people.

There are of course visits to the home spread of the famed writer, Ernest Hemingway, long turned into a museum. It may surprise you to learn that he lovingly cared for his four dogs, whose graves are inscribed with their names, and that he maintained a cockfighting ring on the premises. Then there are the two bars in Old Havana where Hemingway made famous, the Mojito and the Daiquiri.

Trips outside Havana to Varadero…to the area of Caves……to the other towns and cities, including the birthplace of Fidel Castro are very popular. Cuba is a large island, with almost zero crime, and lots to see. Trinidadians should definitely take advantage of opportunity now offered by Caribbean Airways to fly there, starting next month.

Be warned though, that U.S. based credit cards, including those of Trinidad and Tobago are not accepted. In fact, other credit cards are not accepted anywhere except at your hotel. Cuban cash is THE only legal tender, which can be exchanged  at your hotel or a bank, or you may withdraw from ATMs using cards not attached to U.S. banks.

The one final significant point to note is that there are no long lines of people awaiting scarce food, as often projected in the Western media. The only lines we saw were people cueing up for phone cards. For like everywhere else in the world, the cell phone is the unspoken crutch of modern day life!

Web Master

January 5th, 2018

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