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George Duffy

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Posted on: Monday May 28, 2018
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What Happened in Cuba on My Last Trip

I had resisted going to Cuba a long time. I was convinced that it was a one dimensional, beach and surf destination that was state controlled. Not very interesting to independent travellers or anyone wanting to see much beyond what the government wanted you to see. When I finally did go to Cuba I was in for a big shock.

I had some clients in Cuba in early February and decided it was time to go myself to be better informed about the "product". I was studying about Cuba and learned that because of the US trade embargo a lot of organic gardening techniques had been developed. This was also interesting to me since we had been organic gardening for many years and were followers of the slow food movement. We had even made a short video on organic gardening for a contest with West Coast Seeds.

 

I had heard food in Cuba was not very good, but I wanted to learn more for myself, so I could properly advise people. Better to be informed.

Getting to Havana was easy on Air Canada. Getting into Cuba, even easier. Given my preconceived notions of Cuba, I had anticipated a bureaucratic strip search. At immigration we  had a fast, smooth, simple entry, even a smile and a welcome from the border services agent. Our guide was waiting efficiently at the arrivals door and I delayed only for a few minutes to get some Cuban cash that I easily traded at a casa de cambio. They actually told me to only change a little money here as it would be cheaper at a bank in the city. That was nice. And so we were off.

The first thing I noticed was how clean the streets were. Comparing what you see on the highways around Mexico city I was very impressed. Then we got to old Havana and it was as badly run down as we had been informed, so there was no shock there. We got into our neat little hotel, and relished in the warmth we had been craving,  escaping from a bad Canadian winter.

Shortly after, we got out to explore and were only a half block away from a nice inner city square, and to our absolute surprise, very close to dozens of small restaurants, coffee shops, bars and bistros. Live music was drifting up the street and so we followed our ears. Cha, cha, cha.

I learned a lot about Cuba this trip. I will write more about our travels here because we discovered some really amazing people working on extraordinary projects around food and gardens. But the takeaway for this installment is the beaches are fantastic, but this country, so friendly to Canadians, will welcome you and make you feel safe where ever you go. And you won't mind the food either.

Use my handy Online Plus vacation packages to look and book your Cuba vacations from Canada.

There are several excellent tours and sailing holidays (get brochures) for Cuba depending on your interests. You can watch a Cuba video from Intrepid on my tour video blog site at www.tourworld.ca


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