Because of the UK’s close political ties with the United States, the sanctions imposed on Cuba meant that anybody making a noise about visiting the Caribbean island nation would effectively be carrying out an act of defiance and in a sense taking a political stand. For us travellers though, politics seems to fly out the window when we fall in love with the beauty of any destination, so making plans to get there is usually in no way linked to taking any political stance.
In the specific case of Cuba, rare footage and images coming out of the country while it was still under full sanctions depicted enough of its natural beauty to entice those of us whose travels are purely based on our love for travelling. Politics couldn’t help but get in the way however and it proved to be very difficult to get to Cuba, quite simply because there weren’t a lot of direct routes targeting Cuban-bound tourists. Any airline, ferry service or other means of getting tourists to Cuba would have never thrived, let alone flourished as a result of the very limited number of travellers heading there regularly.
Perhaps the easiest route to the island nation would have been first going to the USA and then heading south from there, especially in the case of travellers coming from the UK. You’d have had to give very good reasons why, as UK or US citizen you’re planning to travel to a country under long-running sanctions though.
Hey, even products coming out of Cuba were considered delicacies which came at a real premium. The most famous of these products is probably the good old Cuban cigar, perhaps not necessarily because of its premium quality, but rather as a result of its symbolism. “This is a Cuban cigar which I’m smoking” is a phrase which would have drawn a lot of attention to you and perhaps a lot of admiration and curiosity as well. I mean if you had a Cuban cigar in your hands at the time, so many questions arise to which some reaffirming possible answers existed. Are you perhaps politically connected enough to have access to what’s become a rare premium product? Are you a wealthy individual whose money buys you anything you want, even a cigar from a nation with which our nation has trade sanctions? How on earth did you get it? Have you been to Cuba? What’s it like there?
That’s essentially why now makes for the perfect time for you to travel to Cuba because with sanctions having only just been lifted, what’s been a mysterious Caribbean island nation has only just had the spotlight cast on it. So-called outside influences are yet to fully kick-in and Cuba is at a beautiful transitional phase where the normal way of life is still in full-swing, with the only real transition being the influx of tourists. Visit Cuba now and you’ll witness what would appear to be very well-preserved world of a time which might induce a bit of nostalgia in you, depending on your age of course. You’ll experience al fresco shopping and dining, with most of the consumable goods people buy purchased at a market instead of a mall, most of which goods are handcrafted for a bit more of an artistic appearance.
And the cars – oh the cars! Cuba is perhaps the perfect example of how we humans tend to focus too much on advancing technology in somewhat of a frivolous manner, where a new innovation is just another website which does something better than another one that already exists. The cars in Cuba, from the taxis to the everyday private cars people use as a mode of transport, are all older models which we’d consider classics in this day and age. They run pretty well too, so the muscle car nut or classic car enthusiast might mistake Cuba for heaven.
That’s just the general feeling you’ll get when visiting Cuba – a country which is just at the brink of a transition, but one with a very well preserved history of the development of the human race, complemented with a fine selection of some warm and welcoming people of course.