We arrived home from Cuba on Friday morning and although we were sad to leave behind the sun and beach, we were certainly happy to crawl into our own bed. I always have a great time in Cuba; the people are amazing, the culture is rich, and you will never go hungry. Although Varadero boasts some of the world’s most beautiful beaches (second only to PEI, right?!), it’s the people that keep bringing me back.
I’ve been pretty lucky to spend a bit of time in Cuba. Most of my previous visits were to the more rural areas and countryside villiages that I stumbled upon when travelling or cycle touring. It was those small communities that found a special place in my heart. The kindness of Cuban locals goes far and beyond anything I’ve ever seen when travelling elsewhere; from offering me places to stay, food, and water, or just making sure I wasn’t lost, they always seemed to be looking out for my best interest. Directly related, Cuba is also the place where I’ve felt safest while travelling.
This was the first time I’ve ever stayed on a resort while travelling to Cuba. Although we left the resort often and spent the weekend in Havana, it was a much different experience than I am used to. Still, the people were kind, and locals operated primarily on “Cuban Time” (which is painfully slow for an impatient Westerner like myself), it was much less “Cuban” than I am used to. The overall sense had changed a bit since my previous visit; it was less of a step back in time as many of the older vehicles have been replaced with new imported models, and some of the historic buildings were getting face lifts and renovations to be more modern. Although the Cuban people were still very happy and kind, they were more interested than ever in fashion magazines and celebrities like Selena Gomez, Drake, and Taylor Swift. Some traditional Cuban restaurants had been replaced with European-style diners, and there were more options to use credit cards or connect to wifi, and more locals with cell-phones than I’d seen before. Times have certainly changed.
Don’t get me wrong- I still love Cuba. It is still one of the most culturally rich places I’ve ever visited, with architecture, music, dancing, and food that will leave you in awe. I was just a little sad to see the changes in things I most enjoyed- it used to feel like Cuba had been frozen in time, without much access to internet or cell phones or any of the other materialistic things that we can get so distracted by. Now, there is more access than ever, which is great for their society and economy, but a little hard on my romantic heart. That Cuban charm is still everywhere you look, but Cuban time seemed to have sped up a little.