21 Nov 2017

Sunny In Cuba

Hello World….Sorry about the lack of posts. I’ve been MIA due to a hectic schedule or simply being lazy. LOL. Nonetheless, I promise to blog more often. 

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I’ve been to Cuba twice this year; I visited in June to explore and in October to finalize group tours for “The Sunny Experience” launching December 1, 2017.  I am very excited for the launch. 

Like many American citizens, I’ve always wanted to visit Cuba. Before I even set foot on the island of Cuba, my reasons for going were very clear; Beautiful beaches, unique culture, low crime rate and, of course, the city of Havana. I also wanted to experience a place that was seemingly untouched by the outside world and wasn’t “Americanized” like a lot of the other Caribbean islands. Once I arrived in Cuba, I realized  I couldn’t compare Cuba to any of my previous travels.

HISTORY

The history of Cuba is rich and fascinating, ranging from Spanish occupation to the infamous Cuban revolution masterminded by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. 

Early in Cuba’s history, when Christopher Columbus visited Cuba in 1492, he declared it a tropical paradise and visitors today will still find the beautiful unspoilt landscape that impressed Columbus so much! The Spanish arrived after Columbus and colonised Cuba for almost 400 years until their departure in 1899. The Spanish influence on Cuban history has been retained in the intriguing Cuban architecture.

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In the 19th century, Cuban history was dominated by its value to the world economy as the world’s leading sugar cane producer. European settlers arrived to try to benefit from the wealth to be made in Cuba, and sugar cane production brought in slaves from Africa to work on the plantations. Once slavery was abolished, the African community continued to thrive on the island, and later large numbers of Chinese migrants arrived in the early 1900’s creating the biggest Chinatown in Latin America. This mix of immigration has contributed to the culturally diverse sounds, sights and flavours you’ll experience when touring Cuba.

Prior to Castro, there was another revolutionary hero in Cuba’s history: Jose Marti. Jose Marti was born in Havana to Spanish parents but opposed Spanish rule of the island. He died in combat in 1895 but remains a national hero of Cuban history, both for his attempts to remove the island’s rulers and for his poetry.

The United States was involved in Cuba’s historical removal of the Spanish. The US only managed to replace the Spanish with their own dictators, including Fulgencio Batista, who was eventually overthrown by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara in the infamous Cuban revolution.

In 1953 Fidel Castro led the first failed coup at the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba. Castro then planned a further attempt while exiled in Mexico and, together with Che Guevara, returned to Cuba in 1959, taking two years to defeat Batista and complete the revolution – the most famous part of Cuban history. Castro’s first duties of business were to remove ownership of land, end illiteracy, improve healthcare and raise the quality of life for the people.

Castro’s era of Cuban history got off to a difficult start, as the island was to be isolated from much of the world, in particular the United States, their close neighbour. Financial blockades imposed by the United States created hardships for the Cuban people but support came from other communist allies. In the late 1980’s, with the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the breakdown of the USSR, Cuba lost financial support from the Soviet Union and entered a time from 1990-1994 known in Cuban history as the “periodo especial”. A lack of fuel caused power blackouts and food was in short supply. Cuba needed to look for alternative foreign investment and Fidel Castro accepted the need for the country to be less isolated. Tourism was to become the focus for Cuba, and with its beautiful landscape, pristine beaches and friendly people it became a fast growing destination for foreign travellers. Today, tourism in Cuba is the country’s biggest industry, but the island is still able to offer ‘off-the-beaten-track’ destinations for visitors. Tourists are able to combine a fantastic beach holiday with an opportunity to capture a sense of the fascinating history of Cuba. There has never been a better time to take a holiday in Cuba than now!

BEFORE TRAVELING TO CUBA

VISA: The Cuban government requires all citizens traveling to Cuba to obtain a Cuban visa prior to their arrival into Cuba. A Cuban visa is also known as a “tourist card.” The Cuban visa is valid for a single entry and allows the holder to stay in Cuba for 30 days.

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U.S CITIZENS: If you’re wondering whether Americans can travel to Cuba, the answer is yes but not without a host of restrictions. Since the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba was restored in December 2014, Americans have been able to travel to Cuba under 12 categories of authorized trips. The Obama administration recently loosened sanctions, allowing Americans to travel to the country independently, as long as they complete a form declaring the visit an educational journey.

LANGUANGE: The official language spoken in Cuba is Spanish and it is the first language of about 90 percent of the entire population. Other languages spoken in the country include Haitian Creole, Lucimi, Galician, and Corsican.

CURRENCY: Cuba has 2 currencies;CUC & CUP. CUC mainly for tourists. CUP for Cubans.

INTERNET: Internet is scarce in Cuba. The hotels in Old Habana do have Wi-Fi in the lobby that you can connect to after a purchase of an internet card that costs 3 CUC for 1 hour

I flew in from Newark Liberty International Airport to José Martí International Airport

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I stayed with a local which is the best way to assimilate Cuba culture, and the home was absolutely beautiful.

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After an incredibly warm welcome from my Cuban host, I roamed quite a bit; walked around the neighborhood and found my way around to different spots

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I wore this beautiful cape/dress by Vivid Emporium. Check them out for some beautifully unique pieces. 

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 I’ve heard many horrible experiences about Cuban food. I honestly cannot complain because I did not go to any fancy nor tourists attracted restaurants while in Cuba. If you visit Cuba, you should eat like a Cuban, in places where Cubans usually eats. For the spicy food eaters, I will suggest you bring hot sauce on this trip since many of the food can be bland. 

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Delicious Cuban breakfast courtesy of my host. 

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The next day, I woke up and realized I am not about no internet life. ? So I walked 20 minutes to the nearest internet spot for 1 hour of slow wifi connection. ? If you’ve ever travelled to some developing countries, you would appreciates their internet connection once you arrived in Cuba!

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Roamed different neighborhoods while on the hunt for wifi. 

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I met these awesome constructions workers in front of my host’s home. They kept calling me Linda (beautiful) to get my attention. I tried to speak my broke down Spanish, and took some photos. Many Cubans are completely fascinated by Americans and they would excitedly scream “I love Americans” in the most foreign accent you’ve ever heard.SunnyInCuba,Cuba,Spanish,Travel,TravelTips,TravelTuesday,SunnyInEveryCountry

I wanted a photo with them but the cameraman was overly too excited to see a digital camera for the first time. His colleagues kept saying wait  in Spanish while I put on my sunglasses. lol

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I did more exploring the next day in this colorful dress that compliments vibrants Habana. 

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I was beyond ecstatic when the driver showed up with this vintage pink car that perfectly matches my dress. 

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Our first stop was the Plaza de la Revolución (Revolution Square).Revolution Square in Havana is the political and administrative center of Cuba. The most important structures in the Square are a 109-meter tall star-shaped tower, and the statue of José Martí, Cuba’s national hero and acclaimed poet and journalist. Bordering the large Plaza are located several political and administrative buildings.

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I had dinner several times in the same restaurant simply because it tastes better than other restaurants in the area. Also, the staffs were extremely pleasant and welcoming. 

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I met the sweetest baby after dinner. I made it a priority to visit him in October. 

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I was overly delighted while using a payphone. 

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Spent the last day at a local beach

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So what did I learn on my trip to Cuba? I learned that the country is not as dangerous as the media portrays. The Cuban people are generous, laid-back, friendly people who embrace foreigners who want to see and learn more about their beautiful country.

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I hope this post helps inspires  you all to visit Cuba. Now offering packages to anyone interested in visiting Cuba. Contact us Info@TheSunnyExperience.com

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