Cuba was great! We had a really good holiday but it just wasn't long enough. I would definitely recommend it. Despite it being only 10 days we managed to pack it in and saw what most people would think of as the highlights. Mind you any longer and we would have broken the bank.
Arrival in Habana was pretty exhausting after the bus journey, 2 flights and what seemed like forever clearing passport control and customs. We then had to negotiate with a taxi to take us into town which ended in a row over mis-communication as to how we were paying. Love those US dollars, not. I think if it hadn't been the middle of the night and we both weren't exhausted you would have taken one look at the place we were staying and and would have thought no-way Jose! The building was a bit of a shocker but the apartment was amazing, a real oasis but from the outside you would have seriously asked yourself whether anyone could actually live there. This was fairly typical of many of the buildings we saw in Habana. All in all the first two days were quite emotional. Great peope - really friendly, a beautiful city with lots to see and do, fantastic weather, cool cars and very cool music and some pretty good mojito's to which believe you me we tried quite a few of, all in the course of market research you understand.
After two days we headed out of town to the south west to a town near the coast called Trinidad. The house we were staying in arranged an onward casa particular to stay in and after nearly 8 hours on the bus it was nice to pull in somewhere to be be greeted with a little sign with your name on it. Trinidad was a beautiful colonial town. It was like going back in time with beautiful old houses, cobbled streets and horse drawn buggies. Had a great few days chilling and even manged a day on the beach before heading to the north west to a place called Vinales which was in the tobacco growing region.
Vinales was even more chilled than Trinidad but we still managed to do a fair bit. A great day horseback riding into the Campo with Fidel - I kid you not - where we had cigars rolled for us, yet more mojito's and Caña con Ron, a day hiking in the countryside and then a swim in an underground cave. Whisked back to Habana and then our flight home which took us safely back to Ecuador but unfotunately it took two days for our luggage to catch us up!
Cuba is a unique place and very hard to do justice to on a blog. Things that stood out where things like no mobiles, no advertising bill boards, no graffiti, no crash brarriers, white lines, cats eyes or for that matter many cars on the roads once you got out of Habana. People were hitch hiking everywhere and you saw lorries converted into transport or sometimes not even as sophisticated as that and you just saw people piled into the back. Horse drawn buggies in the country were the normal form of transport for most people and oxon to plough the fields seem to be fairly commonplace. There were few actual shops and those that we saw didn't really seem to have that much in them. We didn't see one market apart from in Vinales and then it was just a few stalls on the side of the road. It was generally very clean and felt very safe. The people were really friendly, the men a little too friendly at times!
It was also stange to us not see children working in the streets but I guess for you guys that wouldn't be such a difference as you don't have it either. That in itself is a fairly sobering thought.