Cuba: Still being punished where the rest of the world has been forgiven
My Adventures in Cuba - Getting there!
Going to Cuba was always on my radar. It was one of those places that fascinated me, but was also very hard to get to from Australia. Fast forward to one of my closest friends getting married in Mexico, and we were all invited along. I had some spare time, and Cuba was finally in reach. I was already going to be in mexico, and without the travel restrictions that had long plagued the US.
At that same moment the Obama government started to ease restrictions. So that sped up my timetable some what. I wanted to get there before US tourism exploded. I got my wish, as although the restrictions would be reduced, it was several months before US airlines and cruise ships would start to go there.
One thing I’ve struggled to understand with the Cuban situation is why the US continued to punish them long after all the other adversaries of the cold war had well been forgiven in one way or another. That this tiny Island so close to the US being so isolated. I think it has more to do with how the very large corporations, and corrupted entities were all kicked out of Cuba to the loss of great amounts money is what the biggest sting was.
Rather than start a political argument about something so long gone, I will focus on the present.
One thing you need to know about Cuba is they have two distinct seasons. Damn hot, then add rain. I had arrived in hot, and wet. In some ways this is the better of the two seasons. “Are you mad?”, I hear you say? Well hear me out. During the wetter months, you could set the rain by your watch. Mid afternoon the skies would cloud over, and then rain with furry for about an hour, and then dry up again. It was regular as clockwork, and you could easily work it into your day.
So my arrival into Cuba was one of those stormy days. I was already tired and cranky from the first world problem that is international air travel. My flight from Sydney was delayed, and I missed my connecting flight to Cancun, and was bumped to the next one. Due to massive storms in the South of the US, that flight was delayed indefinitely as there was no flight crew available. After being stuck in DFW for 11 hours our flight finally left for Cancun. Landed at 3am in the morning. I got 2 hours of bed rest before I had to be awake to go back to Cancun airport for my flight to Havana. It was a very long day. So to have another storm delay was starting to test my resolve. Not the airlines fault, just mother nature conspiring to make me annoyed.
Arrival in the Havana was quicker than I was lead to believe. We were off the plane quickly, and through immigration after a short line up. After collecting my bags, you go through metal detectors again. It makes sense when you think about it, but still. Arrival hall was chaos. But the local pick up from intrepid was there, and give us two options. Line up to get money here (line was about 2-3 hours long) or do it in Havana. I decided to get it later (really smart move).
I had done my research before I left, and found out my ING account, which is on a European Bank, rather than the Australian banks who all use US banks as a back up was going to be my saviour. It worked in Cuban ATMs, so the hassle of lining up went away. I never had to wait for money. The Euros in my pocket that I had to allow conversion, would not be needed.
So after dumping my bags at the Casa, I went exploring around the streets. It was nothing like I expected, and people were friendly. THe best way to put it, they hadn’t really learnt to tourist yet. So when you said no, they just went back into their store. It was a weird experience after the bombarding I was use to in asia.
Tonight was an easy laid back dinner, cheap cocktails, and copious amounts of rum, and Reggaeton. Which quickly beame the soundtrack of the trip.
Part 2 coming soon :)