February was a whirlwind of traveling: three cities, two different travel companions, two beaches, in only in seven days! I sipped on frothy butter beer in Diagon Alley with other aspiring wizards in Orlando, Florida. From there we rented a car and experienced my first toll plaza and turnpike as we cruised cruised down to Miami. We witnessed a beautiful wedding for our Seattle friend, worked on our vitamin D, and got up close and personal with an iguana. From South Beach, I parted ways with those friends to meet up with another buddy on foreign soil in Havana, Cuba.
Havana nights, y’all? $3 mojitos are cheaper than the water, so ensure you’re properly hydrated before you’re arrival, if you catch my drift…
My hometown friend flew across the country on a whim to explore Havana with me for only the weekend!
In hindsight, ALWAYS book more time than you think you need, we needed many more days to do it all, but better to leave wanting more than overstay our welcome?
This Seattle girl hadn’t seen sun in over 3 months, it’d been so long that I almost forgot items you need for sunny days, i.e. SUNGLASSES. I whipped those bad boys out for the first time in 6 months and happily glued them to my face.
Seeing the sunshine was like seeing the world in color for the first time or a child admiring their first crab on a beach. Feeling the sun beating down on our shoulders in the afternoon after months of stale grey weather was pure bliss.
Havana is only a 50 min hop from Miami and you can buy your visa at the gate. Bring all cash, as Havana is a cash economy.
Once you run out of cash you are out of luck and better start washing dishes to earn your ride home. Bring extra.
Wifi is essentially non-existent in Cuba. They have unmarked wi-fi plazas, you’ll know you’ve found one when dozens of tourists and locals alike are: facetiming; skyping, reading news, or talking on the phone in a middle of the street. Thomas and I both felt that the forced disconnection from the rest of the world was a highlight of the trip. How often are you REQUIRED to be present because you’re left with no other option? Never.
Our phones were only used for offline translation, photography, music, notes, and calculations. Whatever else was happening in the world did not matter because we couldn’t respond or take any action, entirely stress free, that feeling is priceless.
My Spanish is arguable rusty. Communicating with our AirBnB host was a challenge and we learned a few phrases along the way. Although she spoke 0 English, she laughed about the language barrier,
“Ellas español egual mi ingles”
There are places to stay that do offer English speaking hosts, but we were looking for authenticity on a budget. It was perfect, we ordered breakfast every morning and had a surprise egg variation thanks to our miscommunications. (We’d do it again)
Most Memorable Sight
The fort (Castillo de San Carlos de la Cabana)! Once we deciphered from our host that there is not boat (we later learned, yes, there perhaps is a boat) to the other side of the water we planned our day around this attraction. We planned to watch the cannonball firing reenactment that night.
This was worth the trip!
We arrived just as the rain poured, but luckily, cleared out as the reenactment began, 9:00 P.M. on the dot.
I stood on the ledge of this fort, but knowing my reaction to loud noises, one misstep i’d be off the ledge and a few hundred feet. I repositioned myself in the crowd to watch the firing.
We also stopped at the revolutionary museum, swung by the Rum Distillery, attempted to club at the Art Factory, and enjoyed many delicious meals.
Book your flights! Tour Cuba before it changes (for the better) and enjoy a tech free vacation.