Are there white Cubans

Cuba experiences: Che, communist clichés and white beaches

Warm temperatures on the skin, the sun is burning, sunscreen is a must, so as not to fly home reddened like all Canadians. A breeze is blowing from the sea - we are at the end of April, shortly before the start of the hurricane season; nevertheless fantastic weather at the moment. Old cars, probably older than me, are pounding the streets - some rusting and with stains painted over on the body, others brightly polished and shiny chrome with thick, comfortable upholstery and brightly colored fittings. You overtake a horse-drawn carriage or a cart that just as naturally uses the right lane (or sometimes the left) as all the old-timers, new Asian cars or even the big buses.

A home-distilled Cuban rum always works

Cubans covered in straw hats sit on a small street corner in sleepy Trinidad, as if for a photo with a cigar between their teeth. At the bus stop, a guitarist sings and plays the typical Cuban rhythms and earns a living. Elsewhere, a whole band loudly plays the sounds of the famous Buena Vista Social Club. It's chattering everywhere, the Cubans love to be together. Glasses clink somewhere - probably with the so-called "vitamin R" or "medicine", as our tour guide taught us. Rum is really consumed here every day - there is probably nothing over it. But Hemingway was already enthusiastic about the rumy drinks and so we hung on his heels.

For those who can't decide: A trip full of highlights through Cuba!

Havana: Fulfills the communist-colonial ideal of tourists

In beautiful Havana we look around all sorts of corners, discover Hemingway's residence, Hemingway's favorite bars “La Floridita” and “La Bodeguita del Medio” and an astonishing range of architecture and state of construction: from prefabricated buildings or other socialist architecture in the outskirts to colonial ones , renovated beauties - right next to dilapidated former houses overgrown with lush greenery; Because of the lack of statics, nobody is allowed to live here anymore. The large, green, central squares have the character of a park - except for the Revolution Square in Havana, where the barren socialism architecture prevails. Cities like Trinidad and Cienfuegos, on the other hand, are particularly beautiful, here the "Playa Mayor" is lined with colonial buildings that shine in rich colors and are by no means reminiscent of the sometimes morbid charm of Havana.

Viñales Valley: One of the most beautiful landscapes in Cuba is made of lime

Our journey takes us into the seemingly evergreen Viñales Valley, studded with limestone cliffs, where the famous Cuban tobacco is grown. Here we visit a tobacco farmer who, with suspiciously shining eyes, sells his cigars at amazingly low prices - we can't resist and buy them.

Cayo Santa Maria: White Island for tourists only

Another highlight is Cayo Santa Maria, an offshore island that was specially developed for tourists around 20 years ago and which therefore no Cuban knows who does not work there. Here the sand is so fine-grained that it trickles through the lounger, the sea is so turquoise that I have never seen anywhere else and the corals are colorful. You won't find any small, owner-managed hotels here, there are the usual large all-inclusive hotels and many Canadians take a relaxing holiday here - and yet: a very worthwhile destination for 1 to 2 days.

Travel destinations along Cuba's revolution

Santa Clara: At Che's grave
Back to the landmarks of Cuba: in Santa Clara we visit the mausoleum of Che Guevara, since 1997 it has housed the remains of the great revolutionary. You have to be careful not to walk past his grave, as it is almost as simple but beautiful as all the other revolutionary fighters who have found their place here. The adjacent museum is small but very impressive.

Revolution portrait in Havana

He and Camilo Cienfuegos were seen in Havana Revolution Square. Both faces in oversized on the house facades of the ministries for information and interior.
By the way, Fidel Castro gives his legendary (presumably farewell) speech at the end of the Congress of the Communist Party in Havana when we were traveling. The personality cult that reigns in Cuba around all the revolutionary fighters is really impressive.

The whole island is really impressive in general: an unbelievable variety of landscapes, happy, frugal people full of inventiveness and love for their country as well as impressive, multi-faceted architecture. Good weather, delicious cocktails and the incredibly white dream beaches do the rest to confirm the picture of paradise to the holidaymaker.

The imperfect is what makes the unusual in Cuba

Nevertheless, especially at this time, when Cuba is experiencing an unbelievable boom, in my opinion you have to bring a good portion of understanding for the conditions in Cuba with you: things take longer, some things go wrong, replacements have to be found, and Cuban serenity the hardworking European has to get used to it. But this may also add a few attractions to the program, such as in our case a salsa dancing Diego Maradona in the hotel lobby, who spends his spa-like stays in Cuba and who is obviously doing pretty well with it.

But if you bring all that and a little flexibility and optimism with you to the island, you can have a great, eventful vacation and really learn to understand Cuba!

In this sense: ¡Hasta luego, Cuba!

Text & pictures: Francisco Sánchez-Marlótica (travel specialist for Cuba)