Why travel to Havana?
Cuba is starting to open up to the world, with Americans now permitted to travel to this startlingly old-fashioned Caribbean island – but only if they get a visa within one of 12 categories (not difficult as one category is basically ‘meeting people) – and fly on a charter plane (plenty of those available via tour agencies).
The thing is, other than the beaches such as Varadero which are more-or-less like any beach in the world, the island – and particularly lively, must-see Havana – is still got one foot delightfully in the past, with 50 year-old Chevies cruising the pot-holed streets, elegantly ramshackle buildings, empty highways, locals puffing on grand cigars, totally rubbish TV and internet but lots of face-to-face conversation – just like the old days!
But there’s little doubt that as Cuba opens up more and more this antiquated island will metamorphose into a poor brother of Florida, with second-rate modern cars flooding in, big name hotels and restaurants springing up, tobacco banned from indoors and so on. And so Cuba’s unique ambience will fade away…get there soon, the sooner the better!
A classic taxi in a Havana backstreet. Photo by Aniol