Trip to Cuba. Looking at the New Year’s fireworks, I dreamed about what awaits me in a few hours. All the way to the airport, I thought about the fact that I’m going to visit the last bastion of the past. Cuba was and remains the last haven of socialism, thorn in the USA.
The flight lasted two hours to Paris and ten more to Havana. The airport in Paris is enormous. Fortunately, they have built up the lanes so that you do not have to walk from one end to the other, which is physically unfeasible if you’re not an athlete in the middle of a training session for the Olympics. It is interesting that the airport has certain underground parts, which are used only for the transport of passengers and under one runway passes the tunnel through which the inhabitants of Paris are driving.
On the first day in Havana, I realized that in Cuba only two things are worth. The first is their good rum and cigars, which are praised by all media. Another fundamental issue of Cuba is the revolution.
In the main square of Havana you get the feeling that you are in Moscow, from a reddish beetle to a red flag, to the M-26-7 flag (this is the name for the revolutionary movement).
Every restorer in the center of Havana would cry out of sorrow. The entire blocks of colonial houses that are completely neglected and unregulated are decaying in the old Havana. All façades on these houses were broken and all colors faded, leaving only the ribbons of their former glory and beauty. In these houses and around them there was a kind of creepy atmosphere, but at the same time so calming. By the rest of the color, the former rust of houses, bright and screaming colors could be recognized. In front of one of these houses, children were playing in dirty underpants, silencing a semi-frustrated soccer ball. It is not difficult to reconstruct a life in Havana before the revolution. This is where the mentioned houses, cars from the 50’s and the whole atmosphere are helping you.
In the center of Havana, I visited Havana Club – a museum of rum. The museum’s production process is complete. When you pass through the museum, adults receive a free sample of rum. In the souvenir shop, they could get a deeper pocket and bad habits with a $ 1700 bottle of rum.
It is a positive fact that if you buy a garment item (like a souvenir) in Cuba (except in Varadero), you can be sure that you are not buying cheap goods from China. All products are indigenous and own production. The shops are small in size with a pile of thin shelves built on the gypsum walls. Sellers are most likely the only people in Cuba with clean and neat clothes, always in a hurry to serve the customer.
There are two types of shops in Cuba: small souvenir shops and more stores with food and drinks.
These tiny souvenir shops irresistibly remind us of our souvenir shops in Opatija, Lovran, … In larger stores, we inevitably came up constantly because of the heat and thirst. In the souvenir shops I bought two berets. The first had the character Che Guevara and the inscription of Cuba, while the other had a huge red star.
Another of the amazing things in Havana are barbers. The average barn in Havana has not changed since the fifties. You can get the shave off an old-fashioned razor for practically no price. I put my life in the hands of an old man in a red shirt. Cubans know about Croatia, but they will be delighted if you mention Yugoslavia in the conversation. By referring to him, we talked about Josip Broz Tito and Fidel Castro, the SFRY and Cuba. Interesting is the fact that the barber fluently spoke English. The feeling of shaving was so pleasant and relaxing that I could not sleep without talking.
As I enjoyed the old-fashioned shave with a razor, I noticed a corner of the eye watching me look at Che Guevara’s eyes with an enormously large portrait hanging on the wall.
It’s worth mentioning a few details about that national hero. Che is from Argentina and joined the M-26-7 movement in Mexico. With Brother Castro and other revolutionaries he sailed to the Grandma in Cuba and began a revolution. After the revolution, Che went to the world to spread communism, and died in Bolivia in 1967. He was liquidated by the alleged CIA. He was buried in a mausoleum in Santa Clara.
The third day, we traveled to Vinales. When we arrived in Vinales, we rented a local guide. He proposed a “short” walk around the surrounding nature.
If we knew what awaited us, we would never accept it, but then we would have missed a very educational and above all annoying experience. The “Short Walk” meant a painstaking, full-day hiking to tobacco plantation. It was dominated by heavy moisture and heavy heat. The guide was head-to-toe heeled in a denim, and a straw hat hung on his head. The sun’s light reflected a bright green color from the environment, and that made my eyes look so frustrating. The smell of fresh grass and tobacco from the plantation spread over the air all over the place.
The tobacco from hand-held cigars can not even be compared to tobacco in standard cigarettes. Here’s why: Cigars move from the whole leaves. As a man was bothering the cigars near me, I asked him where the worse parts of the list of tobacco he had cut off were going. He smiled at me with smiles – in cigarettes which, in large part, were exported to Europe and South America. And now, with even greater laughter, I watch the “naive” at the coffee shop when they smoke cigarettes and praise them for being good. People who are moving cigars all look the same: smaller peasants dressed in all kinds of fashion combinations, from worn t-shirts with inscriptions (Adidas, Converse, …) to jeans with trousers. They all have very dried hands, wrinkled, sunny faces and always smile. Cigars are waving to take a bunch of about 10-15 huge tobacco leaves. Each list is cut off by the edges and the middle (available).
Enjoying sounds of nature.
The halves wrap around one another. After doing this several times, the excess tobacco on the top of the cigar (leaves of course not the same size) cuts off. After this process of cigars takes the desired thickness, it is wrapped in one whole tobacco list. While this process is being carried out, the whole hut in which this is happening is overwhelmed by the fierce smell of tobacco.
After the first smoke, my mother got crazy (otherwise a non-smoker), we had to ask her to come to her. She understood literally the meaning of “be in smoke”. The intensity of the taste of tobacco is simply incredible. I would recommend to everyone that at least once in a lifetime I try a cigar from Cuba, if nothing else, it may be overwhelmed by the moment of experiencing a different life, at some other time. When we returned to the village and asked locals to rinse this intense taste of tobacco in the mouth, the answer did not surprise us very much. Rum, rum and rum!
In Cuba it is not eaten in fine typified restaurants. Local caterers, if we can call them so, have organized restaurants in their own homes and these restaurants are called “paladresresi”. The most commonly used is the so-called. Creole cuisine. Creole cuisine is a way of cooking made from a mixture of various influences. Most of them originated from former colonies. It is sufficient to mention that in one serving, without any hesitation, you get six chops.
The next place we visited was La Boca. This was our first place on the schedule that was on the Caribbean coast. I can only say this for this fact: “HOT!” The average air temperature is 35 ° C. However, since we planned to spend 6 days there, we headed for a good beach. When I came to the first, I understood their beach concept.
Eight kilometers of golden sand, turquoise, fierce sun and, of course, palm trees. In the unpredictable beach of eight kilometers long, I had silence and peace for long walks on soft sand, with closed eyes and with a slight breeze in my face.
After four full days on my trip to Cuba, I spent two hours in such walks, I became almost dependent on that peace. During these walks, in solitude and in perfect tranquility, I recalled the small and various events from the fourth grade to the present day. It is simply an indescribable feeling that a person must experience himself to believe. The only problem with these walks, and the Caribbean in general, blatantly speaking, is the bright sun and its sunflower.
After these few days of rest we were ready for a new adventure. The city of Santa Clara is for the people of Cuba (any political orientation) a sanctuary, which each of them must at least once in a lifetime visit. At that point, Che Guevara reached its peak, drove a bulldozer into a train with 408 soldiers and officers.
His mausoleum, of course, is also in place.
When the monuments to the Revolution are built in Cuba, they are built enormously. The Square of the Revolution, the Cheov Monument and all similar buildings follow the pattern. The principle is the same: to find the greatest possible free space and build a gigantic building on it. At the very place of Che’s grave there is a small room with his body and the bodies of his closest companions. God helped you if you spoke or your phone rang in!
Respect for Cheu is deserved. Locals say that all his orders, which he ordered, had been executed by himself. He volunteered to work in the fields and told people to follow his example. He refused food to stay for other subordinates. No wonder the people respect him.
Another attraction of Santa Clare is the Museum of Sugar. At the welcome door, you get a glass of juice from the cane, which before you, with the help of the machine, is drained. Such juice is the basis for the production of rum. In the museum, you can see how the sugar industry has evolved from a slave business to a colonial era to a modern industry just before the revolution.
It reminded me of my city, which also has a rich industrial history, precisely in this branch of industry, but it is completely neglected and irrelevant, while in Cuba it has made an attraction.
After the museum of sugar, we visited an unusual museum with exhibits of over a hundred locomotives – perfectly preserved.
I would like to emphasize that locomotives have been in the open since the time of the revolution (50 years ago). I wonder if they are just in such a good condition, since they are constantly exposed to the weather conditions and (as far as I have heard), they were not too much invested by the state?
In Cuba there is a place called Varadero. This place is in Cuba, but at the same time it is not. It’s a tourist resort. The site has trade in goods from the USA and Europe, special taxis and a pile of fat tourists, who eat and drink throughout the days (on the pools). There I went swimming with dolphins. We left the local marina with a small boat and a group of other tourists in the “dolphinarium”, located in the middle of the sea. When you enter the water, just stand still and the dolphin swims to you. It pulls you in the circle a couple of times. After that, (those who pay for it, among which I was myself) comes time for tricks. I lay quietly on the water, and the dolphins raised me (on the muzzles) and threw them into the air. An unmistakable feeling!
Varadero is an ideal place to spend the rest of the budget on conventional souvenir shops (magnets, t-shirts …).
I spent the last 3 days in Havana. In Havana there is a Weapons Museum (used in the revolution). The museum consists of an enormous space (former armory), full of weapons of all kinds, shapes and types. He caught me in the middle of the museum’s room. A huge, glass box, full of cold weapons. In this box were all kinds of mats, knives, boxers and the like. Above that box from the ceiling hung portrait, you guess, Che Guevara. At the end of the room, images of the revolutionaries who were killed by the conquering armory were compared. Wherever he went, the symbols of the revolution were absolutely dominant.
I would definitely recommend Cuba as an excellent holiday destination and i would visit Cuba again, but also for those who want to taste a little unreachable adventure. This unusual land of good rum and cigars, revolutionary history and hot Caribbean coasts all seemed to me somehow “retro”, but I noticed that its inhabitants are casual, simple and seemingly satisfied, untamed by inhuman demands of modern technologies. Everybody looks pretty old and a bit smoother, as if they sang in a better and simpler time – the time of idealism and genuine human values. It is truly a utopian place where conversation is still the basis of communication, and the songs and hot Caribbean rhythms are not missing anywhere.
Cuba was a unique experience for me, and I hope that I have managed to awaken in you a little passion and desire to seriously consider visiting this strange island country.