For the American traveler, Havana is exotic and mysterious. It is a sultry, seductive forbidden fruit—you desire all the more because you cannot have it. Well starting soon, that forbidden tropical fruit can be dropped into your ice cold glass of Cuban rum while you sit under a swaying palm tree beneath a bright blue sky and listen to the waves crash ashore. Well, at least that is how I picture it. I imagine narrow streets, Spanish architecture, and the delightful smells of Cuban food. The warm salty air joined with Cuban music and a turquoise Caribbean sea. I think I’m ready to go now.
Technically though, Cuba isn’t somewhere you can flit off to for a beach vacation right now or even soon. But, new US travel requirements have made it possible to visit. The new US laws give 12 legal reasons to visit Cuba including “journalistic activity” (I’m not sure if travel blogging counts, but I’m looking into that), “educational activities”, “religious activities” and several other seemingly broad categories.
Right now, Cuba is a difficult place for Americans to get around. They don’t take our credit cards or cash so you will need to bring a bunch of pesos with you. The exchange rate for the US dollar isn’t that great and Cuba has two different kinds pesos with different exchange rates so that can get really confusing quickly. There is also a Cuban visa you will have to secure costing $150 to gain entry into the country.
It is an interesting dynamic in play if you think about it. If you wait a few years, I am sure travel to Cuba from the US will become more mainstream and it will be easier to get around and function. But, in a few years will Cuba become Americanized and lose what makes it unique? Once they add a few McDonalds and Marriotts, then Cuba is basically just like South Beach in Miami I think?
I found that the Delta website has a lot of good information if you are interested in learning more about visiting Havana. Here is a link to make it easier: https://pro.delta.com/content/agency/us/en/agent-resources/general-information/delta-scheduled-service-to-cuba–faqs-.html. Delta is running direct flights from Atlanta, Miami, and New York starting Nov 29th. The flights from Atlanta are around $380 which includes fees and the required medical insurance.
I would think that most of the readers of an American based travel blog would be extremely excited about the new possibility of visiting Havana. I do imagine though that pretty much all Canadians are pissed about the possibility of Cuba being ruined by hordes of American tourists and American culture. I expect that Canadians have enjoyed having Cuba all to themselves for many years.
In any case, whether you go now or later, I hope to see you there.