Mamma mia, here we go again!
Once we had the kids a serious talk was in order. We had to decide how we would be traveling from now on. As everyone with children knows, there is life as we once knew it – and then there is life with kids. A whole new world unfolds with the added responsibility of making sure two little people are safe and sound at all times.
We decided to take the leap. Putting our hiking boots and backpacks on the shelf just wasn’t an option we would be happy with. So our quest began. Where to?
We wanted exotic, safe and fun. Preferably somewhere warm. And the more we researched, the clearer it became that Cuba seemed to match all those requirements.
Being an island with a communist rule, it is a different kettle of fish all together compared to other countries in the area. And although we may not be in favour of the Cuban dictatorship, it has to be said that it has laid the grounds for a society with very little crime. Cubans are in general a people with a high moral standard. They are friendly and grateful for information about the world outside their bubble.
So we got our Lonely Planet book and started preparing for our one month in Cuba.
We “did” Havana, Viñales, Remedios, Santa Clara, Cayo de las Brujas and Trinidad. Then back to Havana and the nearby beaches called Playas del Este. And of course we popped into Cojimar where Hemingway found inspiration for his classic The Old man and the Sea.
An adventure for sure. A bumpy ride in our little, red rental car. Apparently the street signs get nicked because scrap metal sells on the black market… so very few of those around. We could easily go on and on about our experiences. However, it all boils down to four things:
1 – The people of Cuba are brilliant, genuine, friendly people and we have never felt safer anywhere.
2 – The Cuban food stinks. Yes. It quite literally stinks! More often than not it is way passed its due date, and to add insult to injury, they are limited to very few ingredients. There is the staple fare consisting of pork and beans, known locally as frijoles. Then they have eh, stale bread and a very poor version of the bologna sausage. This is not because the Cubans don’t appreciate good food. It’s simply because the country is so poor it’s lacking in basic cupboard ingredients.
There is of course the wonderful exception of lobster which is only available on the black market because it’s intended for export. And no one can take away their abundance of fresh fruit which make for healthy breakfasts. Everything else will give you stomach upsets. Guaranteed!
3 – Viñales is a place we’d return to any day. It’s rich in natural beauty, and still not on the main tourist trail.
4 – Finally, we strongly suggest you bring your own nappies if you’re traveling with infants. The local variety seems to be made to repel liquid rather than absorb it. (Ladies, this also applies to sanitary towels I’m afraid). It got really interesting when our one year old caught a stomach bug, no picture required.
To sum it up we all loved Cuba. It had the natural beauty we were hoping for, the drop dead gorgeous beaches, the friendly people, the photogenic bits like vintage cars and rustic housing. And most importantly, although we did get the odd stomach upset, we felt safe. And that’s a feeling that goes a long way in terms of traveling with the kiddos.
Fancy reading more about our Cuban adventure? Well, we were both relieved and impressed with the absence of advertising. It struck us after a few days that our eyes were rested. How weird is that!?
Check out the ONLY billboards that tell Cubans what they should be doing.