In researching this holiday I read many times, ‘Go and go now.’ Tourism has been promoted for about 15 years now, as a result Cuba is changing. If you want to see life in a time capsule then the advice is good. If you’re at all interested in the history, curious as to why the American government is so hostile, want to see a place which has no advertising (there’s nothing to buy), and, away from the towns, more horse drawn vehicles than motors, then you’ll love it.
On the history part, our tour guide, Alex, was brilliant. He gave us the full whack from the original natives, through the Spanish colonisation, the introduction of sugar cane and slavery, the war of independence, the president/dictator period, the American involvement, the revolution, the mass exodus of the wealthy to the US, the soviet involvement, the American embargoes, the terrible effect of the soviet collapse, finally to modern day, and the adoption of tourism as a way out of their economic problems.
It sounds dry stuff but it helped pass the time on the coach journeys. It also gives you the background as to why the multiracial, multicoloured populace all mix-in together now without any colour predudice, why most of them revere the Castros (Che, of course, is regarded as a demigod), and why Cuba is as it is. The fact that they have put two fingers up at the US for over 50 years and are still surviving, is awesome.
Alex was a great guide; intelligent, informative, fun, and drop-dead gorgeous.