Ché: ‘your example lives on, your ideas endure’. Not for much longer
Ernesto Ché Guevara, doctor, intellectual, Marxist revolutionary, guerilla and diplomat was a key figure in the Cuban Revolution that won control of the country in 1959. Ché’s photographic image by Korda has been reproduced more than any other photo in history according to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
Vacations in Cuba
Cuba is without doubt the Caribbean’s most interesting island. It embraces great beaches, water sports and sun, just like the rest of those famously sunny islands, but also offers the discerning tourist gorgeous decaying towns and cars, a wildmusic scene, a fascinating history, friendly people, cheap living and a bizarre, collapsing Socialist system.
I cannot but be moved here in Havana: moved by the death of an idea. Slowly but inexorably now Castro is gone, economic liberalisation is coming; a slow-rising tide as little gullies and pools begin to fill and the water swells between stones and through myriad small channels. The signs are everywhere: little kiosks here and there; some paintings for sale, shyly pegged outside a small flat; the furtive undermining of state monopolies; restaurants with proper wine lists and real menus; an itinerant cartoonist who’ll sketch you for a few pesos.
• Good, tasty food is not found on every street corner.
• You’ll know where every casual conversation – and there’ll be plenty of it – is going. . . . Cigars! Paladares! Ladies!
• There’s an edgy undercurrent of potential violence around, which occasionally results in robbery, so care is required outside posh hotels and beach resorts. See Travel Safety Driving for a reality check.
• Standards are low, so beware the rental car with only 3 nuts per wheel (e. g. Transauto), or the salmonella salad. See Health.
• Driving should be a pleasure but the almost total absence of signposts makes things difficult, even if you speak Spanish.
Minimum worthwhile stay, not including flights: 1 week for city culture and some beach life.
Better: 2 weeks visiting key towns such as Trinidad and Santiago and having a beach ball on Varadero.
If you plan to visit Cuba, the old, charming, dilapidated, communist Cuba, get moving!
Havana Centro, La Habana Vieja, Paseo de Marti. Old Havana is a UNESCO World Heritage Site founded in 1515 by a Spanish conquistador.
Once the gambling vacation of choice for wealthy Americans, Cuba island and its capital Havana has been on the US State Department’s no travel list since the revolution in 1959, (‘Tourist travel to Cuba is prohibited under U. S. law for U. S. citizens and others under U. S. jurisdiction’) though determined US citizens can get there via fairly easily Canada, Mexico or Caribbean countries so long as they book flights separately.
About 40, 000 of last year’s 2. 5 million visitors were from the USA. Cuba welcomes U. S. tourists despite the chance of fines or surrender of passports if caught when re-entering the USA.
Cuba is a popular tourist target for holidaymakers from countries other than the USA as its combination of climate, beaches, architecture, low cost holidays and a fascinating local culture make it a unique destination, not only in the Caribbean but in the world.
A few days checking out Havana’s attractions followed by two or three days relaxing on the beaches of Varadero makes for a brilliant combination of culture and sunshine.