During a lecture by one of my favorite journalists and mentors, she – in an aside – let it slip that she decided to take on the trek to Cuba during her time off during the summer. This sparked my interest because for most Americans, even those who pride themselves on being world travelers, Cuba is not a usual destination. The embargo placed on the Caribbean island in 1962 by the United States completely decimated any relation between the two countries and actually made it illegal for American citizens to visit the island, seeing as tourists would contribute to Cuba’s economy. This made traveling to Cuba a voyage that not many were willing to undertake. Luckily for mostly everyone, the embargo is not being completely lifted, but will be revised so that traveling to and from Cuba will become manageable, and not a crime.
After fortuitously encountering numerous travelers who made the trip themselves, I decided to make this list for anyone with doubts as to why this isn’t the best thing to happen in 2015.
6. It can still be an adventure
Although it will soon be possible to directly fly from New York to Havana, there’s nothing against going the traditional route which involves crossing the border to Mexico, flying to Mexico City, obtaining a foreign visa for Cuba, and boarding to Havana the next day. Oh, and it’s a bad idea to let the Cuban authorities stamp any kind of passport.
5. It doesn’t have to be a hassle
Yep. Direct flights!
4. You’ll learn about International Relations and Politics
One aspect of the island that is impossible to overlook is the embargo’s effect on citizen life in Cuba and the sociopolitical situation of the island. With a such a looming sanction dangling over their heads, the Cuban people all have opinions and points of view that might be worth a listen.
3. Most people you know didn’t go to Cuba
Let’s face it, bragging to your friends about going to an island on which it was actually illegal to set foot on for over forty years is pretty cool. And, as much as I am not promoting boastfulness, there’s still an appealing element to doing something a little different from the masses of people mobbing to the Bahamas for spring break.
2. You can experience Communism
Well, that doesn’t happen every day!
1. You can go back in time
After the embargo was put on Cuba, its infrastructure, technology, and exposure to the world froze like the carcasses of hunted prey as the ice age swept across the world hundreds of thousands of years ago. On a microscopic level, Cuba is stuck in the early 1960’s. The streets are littered with old cars that have been out of production for years, and the buildings themselves appear as though refurbishment is one faraway dream. Before long, one may find themselves traveling through old childhood memories, or a world only described by elders.
Below is a video of Cuba seen through the eyes of the world’s favorite concrete outcasts: skateboarders.