A veteran traveler to the (mostly) off-limits Caribbean isle shares his best tips
For those of you who have not yet had the pleasure, visiting Cuba for the first time will be something you will never forget. Cuba has its own unique smells, sounds, and rhythms. History surrounds you, and despite the lack of many the things that we Americans may consider vital, people in Cuba seems to live life a little more intensely than anyplace else.
Leave your preconceptions at home, as well as your political opinions, and you are sure to experience something unique. Cuba is a country free of many of the things we associate with a modern society. What it lacks in amenities, it makes up for in art, music, dance, literature, and history. It is a living experiment on the human potential absent the capitalistic influences. As you travel there, you can judge for yourself how successful it's been at achieving these goals, but like most opinions in Cuba, your ideas are best kept to yourself.
Another thing you will discover about traveling in Cuba is that "rules' seem to change each time you visit. What was permitted the last time is now illegal and what was illegal may now be tolerated at some level.
Recommended Reading: You should not go to Cuba without having done a little research. There are two books I would recommend in order to get a better idea of the Cuba of today and yesterday. Dr. Roberto G. Fernandez's book, Raining Backwards, has some great observations about the exile community in a hilarious novel, published by Arte Publico Press. My personal favorite is the comment by one exile about the eggs in Cuba being so large in pre-Castro Cuba that they had to give the chickens C-sections.
The other book I suggest is Mi Moto Fidel by Christopher P. Baker, which details the author's adventures riding his motorcycle throughout Cuba.