“Let the world change you and you can change the world”
― Ernesto Che Guevara
I decided that the best way to see Cuba was not another all inclusive, but to Cycle and Hike around the island. This was a much bigger challenge than initially anticipated but all in all the BEST way to see this beautiful country.
Cuba has so much to offer a traveller but unfortunately it has been pin holed as an all inclusive destination. The 4* resorts in Varadero, Cayo Coco and Santa Maria hardly touch upon the rich culture, immense history and breathtaking sights this country has to offer. Cycling through the lush Vinales Valley and enjoying a sunset meal from an organic farm, exploring the caves used in the 1962 Missile Crisis, hiking through tobacco fields and rolling my own cigar, overnighting in Las Terrazas Biosphere Reserve in San Juan Huts, snorkelling the Bay of Pigs, getting lost in the colourful streets of Trinidad and relishing over the 16th century Spanish architecture of Old Havana are some of my highlights.
Some of the challenges that I came across were food and language barriers. I am probably the only person in the world that does not have a basic understanding of the Spanish language and what little I know of Italian proved to be more confusing than helpful. Because you are off of the resorts, locals have little to no understanding of the english language. It would have been in my best interest to at least learn the word for vegetarian as trying to explain this was a daily struggle. Although a great deal of their diet is rice and beans they do rely heavily on meat which did prove to be a challenge for me. Most of what I was able to eat was bread and tomatoes. Not the worst for an Italian abroad, but less than ideal.
I think that one of the greatest things that I have pulled from this trip is a better understanding for this countries history as well having gained a great respect for Che Guevara and what he was able to do for the people of Cuba. It was something that we heard about throughout the trip but I did not properly understand until we visited the Che Guevara Mausoleum in Santa Clara on our second last day. Having the chance to really get to know his story from beginning to end with such moving visuals had an immense impact on me.
There was no denying that while I was strolling the quant streets of Havana that you can see the influence that travel has had on the city and culture. I made a point to get to the country before the U.S. launches 100+ flights a day to Havana starting this fall. As it is, the infrastructure is unable to handle the tourists that are currently arriving from Canada and Europe so I can only imagine the chaos that will ensue come September/October. That with the overall changes that the general culture will experience as hotels start to pop up everywhere as well as places like McDonalds and Starbucks, they will see a great deal of change in the next few years.
I urge you to see Cuba now and not from the perspective of an all inclusive. I will admit that the all inclusive has its place, but take the next few months to take advantage of this beautiful island culture before it changes. You won’t regret it.
If you are interested in the same trip with Exodus Travels, or even the itinerary that I traveled on here it is!
*For a video of the FULL TRIP , take a look HERE for “21 reasons you will fall for Cuba” *