Last updated on October 9th, 2016
You need to travel to Cuba soon.
It’s been 53-plus years since the US Embargo (FEB 7, 1962) was imposed on Cuba. US President, Barack Obama, is restoring (or at least trying to restore) diplomatic relations with Cuba. The US and Cuban embassies were re-opened in 2015 in each other’s country.
Obama is also trying to remove the US Embargo on Cuba. In the simplest terms, the removal of the embargo will remove the trade and travel bans between the United States and Cuba.
What does this mean for travelers? It means you need to travel to Cuba now.
Cuba is frozen in a time warp. With its colonial style architecture throughout the country, it’s a traveler’s treat to wander from the hustle-and-bustle of first-world cities. You don’t see a McDonald’s or Starbucks in every corner. The trade embargo being lifted will catapult Cuba’s lifestyle: telecommunications, fashion, architecture, etc. I’ve never had Wi-Fi reception in Cuba. Only in the past year, the Calixto Garcia Park in Holguin introduced Wi-Fi; you still have to pay for it (source: a local friend).
The removal of the embargo will not change all this. Cuba needs to stop governing like a communist or socialist big brother. However, Cuba and the Florida keys are separated by less than 100 miles. Can you see future American pressure for capitalism in Cuba? Cuba will be transformed – it’s a matter of time.
I want Cubans to prosper. I’ve been to neighborhoods where the locals are still living in slum-like conditions. The average, monthly take-home salary in Cuba is 20 USD (Brookings). To put the purchasing power (or lack of) into perspective, the cost of a beer at the bar or disco is 1 USD (1 USD = 1 CUC).
Cuba’s lifestyle won’t change overnight, but it will change. When this happens, Auténtica Cuba will downsize or diminish. You’ll be able to eat a Big Mac in Havana, or drink a Frappuccino in Las Tunas.
Now is the time to travel Cuba. Sitting on lawn chairs at all-inclusive resorts is not traveling; rather, sleep in town, eat at local restaurants, and order your cervezas in Spanish at the bar. Avoid tourist-filled towns. “Varadero is not the real Cuba,” Rafael, a Cuban, once told me. If you need a place to sleep, stay in a casa particular.
I was originally trying to avoid returning to Cuba until its technology and community development improved. I want to be able to work on my travel blog and photography. Now, I have to travel to Cuba before a Brave New World emerges.