Inside Cuba Artistic Confessions

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I am heartened to hear that you still enjoyed aspect of the trips and came away with good memories alongside the others. Like you, I loved aspects of it, but other parts were hard to reconcile with expectations for a tourism experience. Cubans are too stressed out about survival. Food, destroyed houses, transportation, constant surveillance from the political police.

Most of the population wants to leave the country. I got the sense of that when I was there and it was very hard to enjoy the show the government orchestrates for the tourists knowing the locals feel that way. Thanks for weighing in on this piece. You know, Shannon, I really enjoyed your post. It is perhaps the first time I read someone being so honest about Cuba. I remember before I went there, reading hundreds of blogs and commentaries, all expressing enthusiasm for the country and the people. I loved it too, and I would love to go back. But I did not find those loving, warm, people that were described.

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I literally just felt… like a CUC. Do I make sense? There was no way of scraping the surface and finding out what the real Cuba is. There was no way to interact with the locals other than for business transactions. And mind you, I do speak very good Spanish!

I know exactly what you mean Claudia, the interactions hinged on being tourists and spending money, from the locals there was also very little push for deeper conversations. It was a tricky place to get under the skin and find people willing to talk about their lives, the issues in their lives, and the deeper nuances of their culture. I would love to share with you a post I wrote for another blog.

I will send you via email if that is ok :. This is very interesting as I felt very similarly towards Cuba. We were fortunate to meet some lovely Cuban women who were amazing at salsa dancing. I approached them in the square to see if they could teach my friend and I. They told us that if they are seen speaking to tourists they can get into trouble by the police.

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Anyway as we had built up a rapport they wanted to teach us. Once inside we had to shut the door even though it was scorchingly hot. Only then did they relax and they gave us the salsa lesson of a lifetime. Such amazing women. The whole family were introduced to us and they were very kind and warm people.

But as soon as that door opened at the end … We were sneaked out and had to again follow behind.

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Hat similar experiences! And I am sorry that it is that pervasive in the country… After many of the commentors noted that they had more open conversations with many people, I had hoped it was isolated. How fun was the salsa though! It was one of the experiences I was so glad to have to the country. Awesome post.

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I am cuban, fled the country when I was three. I completely agree with your feelings. I hear so many tourists talk about their wonderful experiences in Cuba…. But I have many Cuban friends that still have to go there to visit their families which are trapped there.

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The people that live there have nothing to eat, no medicine, nothing. My friends have to take everything…medicine, coffee, soap, clothing, bare necessities and half of it is taken by the police when they arrive. Young girls prostitute themselves for a pair of jeans or a decent meal. Tourists need to know that their money does not make life better for the locals…only the government…. Sad but true. Hi Nilda, like you, so many of the other travelers have raved about it — and I do know that experiences for travelers can really vary depending on how controlling the government is being that year, but it comes down to a sum total of control and repression spanning decades.

Thank you for weighing in, one of my Cuban friends shares your sentiments and does not have any desire to return, knowing what his family went through to get out. It was interesting seeing how much your experience changed after you switched!

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Thank you so much for your post. Obviously everyone can walk away from a country with their own opinions on what they experienced. It is nice to hear an honest opinion without simply bashing their experience.

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I agree though there are so many amazing countries to travel to and to experience. Thanks for you honest opinion. I came back from Cuba with mixed feelings — there were parts that I liked and disliked. While I enjoyed my time there and stayed with locals too so glad to hear you avoided the resorts … I came away feeling sad upon seeing the poverty and harsh reality of their every day life. I do think I will go back someday, particularly if I am with someone else who really wants to visit. I want to see what a communist country looks like. It might be selfish for me to want to inspect the living in a communist country including the government projects and propaganda while the people is suffering from it, but while I want to visit the country before the change happen, I also wish the change will indeed happen in the near future for the best of the people. That being said, some of the other communist countries feel differently in my opinion.

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Cuba was unique, perhaps because it is so small and thus easier for high levels of control. I am always suprised when I hear someone say that they did not love Cuba. My husband and I were there for 3 weeks over Dec Jan and neither of us can wait to go back, even with the epic travel time to get there from Australia. It is one of my two all time favourite countries. In fact without the ability to speak or understand any Spanish at all we still had amazing interactions with the locals, even to the point of being invited into random houses to dance with a family.

Every person we met was very open about their thoughts on the government and what they thought about the country, the politics etc. We even had dinner one night with someone who fought with Che and Fidel in the Sierra Miestro. We managed to travel most of the country with the exception of the Vinniales area. We did a huge amount of research before we went and I wonder if that helped our positve experience.

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While we were there we met some other travellers also from Australia and they had a totally different experience to us and hated Cuba. I cant wait to go back, hopefully at the end of this year if all goes to plan. And that in itself is unusual because we generally dont go back to the same place as there is so much of the world we still want to see.

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I am a bit worried that we could have a totally different experience next time and come away not liking Cuba, but I really hope not!! Happy Travels. So glad to hear you really enjoyed Cuba, I know the feedback from others was really polarized on that front, and really and truly just could have been a fluke of when we were there terrible storm for the whole week and who we happened to encounter.

But it seems to happen to everyone.