The changing face of Cuba

Posted: 08-Jun-16 08:23

When travel blogger Paul Schmitz visited Cuba earlier this year, he wasn't sure quite what to expect from a country that - to a foreign eye, at least - seems to exist as a mass of contradictions. However, after experiencing the island and its people firsthand, his blog for Huffington Travel revealed that there's a lot more to Cuba than originally meets the eye.

The changing face of Cuba

Travelling to Cuba can often be an experience that defies expectations, but for Huffpost Travel writer, Paul Schmitz, the visit was an eye-opener in more ways than one. Writing up his experience in a blog for the site, here are:

Six things that Schmitz learned about the island that may surprise you

  1. Expect a warm welcome

    Although he expected to be greeted by militaristic security personnel when first entering the country, Schmitz admitted he was surprised by the reception he received on arriving in Cuba. Not only was his greeting warm, friendly and not in the least bit intimidating, but the female immigration and security staff at the airport also sported shorts and patterned tights in place of combat fatigues.

  2. Embrace a world of contradictions

    On arriving in Havana proper, Schmitz discovered that Cuba is a country that is simultaneously tied to the past and building for the future. Beautifully painted homes sit side-by-side with those on the verge of ruin and stunning natural scenery co-exists with newly-thriving industry and entrepreneurship. A land of contradictions it may, but there’s no denying Cuba has its own charm.

  3. Everyone is different, everyone is equal

    One of the things that struck Schmitz most about his visit to Cuba was not what he did see, but what was conspicuous by its absence. The travel blogger noted that the disparities of wealth and poverty that exists in the US are not nearly so obvious on the island, with a refreshing lack of branded stores and even the most luxurious accommodation being locally-owned and cheap by American standards.

  4. Music and art is everywhere

    During his visit, Schmitz took in two art shows, heard Ravel’s Bolero played before an audience of partygoers and dined in a number of restaurants that featured live local music. This goes to show that Cuba is a country where art and culture abounds – and no more is this evident than in Fabrica de Arte Cubano, a former factory now filled with galleries and performance spaces for new artists.

  5. Getting around is a wild experience

    While the classic American cars and bikes of Cuba were certainly present and correct, Schmitz discovered that getting around in the country isn’t always an easy ride. Frequently the blogger found himself sat in traffic jams behind either a horse and buggy or an old gas-guzzling Soviet tractor and attempted to overtake, only to find that another one was approaching from the opposite direction!

  6. Conversation is the Cuban Google

    One amusing anecdote provided by Schmitz was that while searching for an address on the outskirts of town, his guide stopped to ask a young man for directions. Hollering to an old, shoeless man sat on a bench, the youth then relayed his instructions, with Schmitz’s guide describing the interaction as “the Cuban Google” – an apt summary of a country where most homes don’t have the internet.

As you can see from Schmitz’s experience of Cuba, the country is charming place where cultural life surround your pace. Though the influx of visitors over the summer will surely have some effect on the country going forward, there’s no way it will ever erase Cuba’s rich and colourful past.


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