Arriving in Cuba was such a great feeling, one we finally made it and two at 10pm the air had this muggy feeling that reminded me of Hawaii – this was definitely going to be a tropical paradise. And it was too some extent. The landscape was fantastic with rolling hills, palm trees, lots of tropical fruit trees and long white sandy beaches contrasting with the turquoise blue ocean. But for the people it is a struggle – stuck in a communist country with no access to any information on the outside world is pretty unbelievable. Even more so when we visited the ration stores where people queue for their bread everyday and on certain days of the month for other rations such as a bar of soap every 6 months or for their quota of 6 eggs per year. Yes there are other stores but they have to pay for extra supplies and considering the average wage is about £17/month you can imagine for some it is a struggle.
However all the guidebooks are right when they say the people never stop smiling. They are indeed very friendly probably because the tourist bring in extra money for them but I also think they are genuinely a happy bunch…AND extremely musical. We listened to music in almost every restaurant we went too and of course got taught how to salsa. We were promised Adonis as our instructor (seriously that was his name) but he was unable to make it that night…very fortunate for us as it turned out he was far from a Greek God.
The food on the trip was far better than expected and we luckily got to sample some home cooking a number of times on our trip, but although the home cooking was good, it was not always the best place to visit the ladies as a few in our group found out when they were led to the outside toilet – also known as ‘the pigsty’ with their very own pigs. Very entertaining.
I did lots of walking on my holiday about 3 hours everyday – through forests, old coffee plantations, tobacco fields, up cliffs to see the great views and the local farmers hurricane hideouts…so I welcomed the two days we had at the beach with a chance to sit back and do some snorkelling and of course try the other local speciality ‘Pina Colades’. I say other, as on most occasions Mojitos were the drink of choice. The sea life is pretty similar to other parts of the Caribbean and I happily snapped away with my digital camera in its new water housing.
My holiday ended by spending two days in Havana. I explored the craft markets, took classic guidebook photos and soaked up the entire atmosphere with one last mojito in my hand!