I’ve been sharing bits and pieces of my time in Cuba on Instagram… but I thought it about time that I rounded up all of my thoughts pertaining to my trip into one comprehensive post. In English. Because I rediscovered last week that five years of classes and one summer spent studying abroad in Spain has amounted to precisely zero knowledge of the Spanish language.
So that’s good.
I’m going to start off by saying that I had an absolutely wonderful time in Havana… and that if you are even contemplating taking a trip to Cuba, I highly recommend doing so ASAP. The weather was a pleasant surprise after experiencing 22°F temperatures in Dallas shortly before my departure. Throughout my time in Cuba, the weather was in the 80s during the day and then the mid/low 70s at night. Which is why this white strappy sundress was the perfect thing to wear in Havana for a day of exploring Old Havana on foot.
What I’m Wearing:
Dress: Adelyn Rae (via Rent the Runway) / Scarf: Ann Taylor / Hat: Tuckernuck / Shoes: ASOS
Purse: J.Crew, old (similar) / Earrings: BaubleBar / Ring: BaubleBar
Okay… yes, I forgot to mention windy. Very windy.
Havana is overall a very walkable city – especially if you’re staying in or near Old Havana. On our first day in Cuba, we walked everywhere. And did just about everything.
We started off our day with a visit to the US Embassy and then proceeded to visit the Hotel Saratoga (still obsessed with that bar!) for a session on international business in Cuba. We then went to a USSR-themed restaurant before exploring Old Havana on foot. The photos above were actually taken in an area called the Plaza de San Francisco de Asís – named for the eponymous monastery pictured behind me in the photos.
I went to Cuba through my MBA program, so almost everything we did had some sort of an educational aspect. We met with people connected to US government operations in Cuba and people who have ties to the highest levels of the Cuban government. Professors and doctors and even cigar rollers spoke to our group, and showed us a little window into their lives.
And now for my thoughts on Cuba…
My biggest takeaway from my trip was that Cuba is a weird place. There’s no other way to put it. The country is either on the verge of an economic collapse or a total rebirth… and who knows which way the wind will blow. As an American with strong capitalist beliefs, I found the structure of the country completely boggling; the lack of entrepreneurial possibilities almost insulting.
However, I couldn’t help but applaud what they had tried to fix in terms of social reform. In many third-world countries, you see abject poverty and destitution. Because of their free healthcare, food ration system, and housing opportunities (limited though they might be), you don’t find people starving on the streets in Cuba. That level of poverty doesn’t exist. Admittedly, there is a ceiling to what you can earn and achieve in Cuba and the Cuban economy is crumbling from within, but there are no starving children lining the streets.
I was so interested by my time in Cuba – and that really is the only way to put it. As I said earlier, the country is on a brink of a major change – and who knows if it’ll make the situation better or worse – so I’m really glad I was able to visit Cuba when I did.
I’ll be posting a big travel guide for Havana tomorrow, covering where I ate, hotels you should try, and even things to do in Havana. If you have any questions you wish for me to address in the post, please leave them in the comments below!