Category Archives: CARIBBEAN

Visiting Cuba: My First Impressions

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Like most who return from a first-time trip to Cuba, I’ve struggled to write about it.

I’ve struggled even as the cultural visitor that I was, on a people-to-people tour. In essence, a tourist like everyone else.

The truth is that I had no plan to post anything on my blog at all, because this wasn’t for work for a change. It was for cultural and educational purposes–I’d always wanted to visit Cuba and understand it. It’s also a neighboring country to the Dominican Republic, and yes, I did need to know a little of it from that standpoint. But I wasn’t on assignment, and I wasn’t there as a travel journalist… although, it’s always hard to put that hat away.

I’ve received numerous messages asking me about my impressions or perspective of Cuba. The most recent question was: tell me in one word, did you love it?

After I answered, I began to wonder–how much can one judge anyway after 11 days in Cuba, across several regions? Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t favor writing about a place after a short stay. That’s why most of my writing sticks to my expert destinations.

But that’s the thing. There are times I traveled on press trips for a short time, and came back enchanted (the reverse is also true). I spent a week in Martinique and returned with plenty of positive impressions. Four days Continue reading »

Sunset on Havana’s Malecon & Cuba Notes

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I’ve just returned from an 11-day trip to Cuba. Like most, I’ve wanted to visit that country for as long as I remember–and when the opportunity and window of time presented themselves this month, I leaped. I visited Havana, Trinidad, Vinales, Santa Clara, and Cienfuegos.

This trip was not for a work assignment. It was for my overall knowledge of the Caribbean–it was a missing piece of the puzzle–and to get insight into a tourism hotspot neighboring the DR, that is about to receive a large and steady influx of Americans starting in September.

In sum, Cuba was not anything I expected. I went through a range of about 100 emotions in 11 days, from happiness to sadness, laughter, frustration, and compassion, to name a few. But more importantly, I learned a lot of history during my visit, and a lot about the way of life, thanks to my local guide. It’s a difficult place to grasp even a little, because it’s hard to infiltrate the local life–I imagine it takes longer than most places. I certainly knew I wouldn’t come remotely close in just 11 days. But it was worth the visit, to see and experience it for myself.

In the coming weeks, I’ll share stories and photos from my cultural trip–which I took with an educational tour company.

For now, you can read the first of my Cuba Notes here–a series of short episodes from my trip–about my first night in Havana. Stay tuned for the next piece.

Hasta pronto!