Visiting Cuba Before Westernization
Replies: 21 - Last Post: Jan 22, 2013 5:28 PM Last Post By: avsfan
Jan 19, 2013 5:33 AM
Visiting Cuba Before WesternizationHola. We would like to visit Cuba before Mcdonald's and hoards of tourists descend on the Island. The current regulations and prices charged by the official group tours to US citizens is not appealing however. If you have been on on of the official tours can you pls provide insight into your experience. Is change coming fast to Cuba? Should it get there asap? Im thinking as long as Castro is alive it will be a very slow gradual change.Are there any particular agencies which provide maximum experience and exposure to locals for the $? Price isnt paramount if there is a true difference in what you get? Also, we are very outdoors oriented so would like to experience Cuba at this level. Prefer to backpack it if this is even possible? Thx in advance for your insight!!! Avsfan
Jan 19, 2013 6:01 AM
1We would like to visit Cuba before Mcdonald's and hoards of tourists decend on the Island
Not to disappoint you, but in my opinion you are about 20 years too late. Cuba has been acquiring the trappings of Western/capitalist culture over that time frame. Foreign tourists have been coming to Cuba in large numbers since the mid-90s and significant numbers of Americans were visiting Cuba independently long before this recent interest in "people to people" legal travel. Americans have been doing the type of things you are interested in doing in Cuba, without consequence, for more than 15 years.
I don't know what portion of the archives survived the recent purge of the website, but there was a wealth of information available about independent travel to Cuba and endless discussions about both the practical and legal ramifications of the Cuban travel restrictions. My advice is do some research in the archives and come back with questions about independent unlicensed travel. Since licensed tour groups are a recent phenomena most of the experienced US travelers have little experience with them.
Jan 19, 2013 6:45 AM
2When Cuba gets to this...... it's time to leave. :o))
But seriously and to address the OP. Cuba has had over 2 million tourists/visitors per year for almost the last decade. Cuba has changed as tourists are looked on more and more as walking ATM machines. That's the reality.
However, all that being said, you can still have a great trip and see what makes Cuba unique but you won't get that on a pre-packaged tour. You need to plan a month-long trip (two weeks absolute minumum to scratch the surface) and get yourself to Cuba as an independent traveller. This would likely mean travelling thru a third country to get there. Then stay in what are called Casa Particulars (like a B&B), use the Viazul buses to travel about, and for god's sake, stay away from tourist strips like Varadero.
Stop at middle of the country towns where tourists seldom go. You'll find that this is a completely different experience than the tourist areas of Havana (much as I love Havana) where it's become too much hustle and not as much culture.
my dos centavos.
Jan 19, 2013 7:18 AM
3USA will not lift the blockade/embargo in our lifetime. There is too much bribery money going from Miami to the elected policy makers in Wash. DC. Once the US Government finds a foreign policy that is a failure, like the drug war and the religious war(war on terror) it continues forever.
Repealing would be to admit to the long time corruption of Congress and the White House.
Jan 19, 2013 8:51 AM
4Yes, as already pointed out, certain parts of Cuba are already chock-full of tourists so you have to get out of these spots to catch a glimpse and have a taste of what really goes on behind the scenes.
Just because the Castros are still around doesn't exactly mean that things will change more swiftly when they are gone. Cuba is run on a one-party system and why would that party dare to allow any competition? Who knows how that one will eventually turn out.
"The current regulations and prices charged by the official group tours to US citizens is not appealing however"
I can just imagine. Seems like official tour groups are the latest lot to treat tourists to Cuba like walking ATMs, not to mention like herds of cattle also!
Jan 19, 2013 10:23 AM
Jan 19, 2013 11:08 AM
6I had just the same thought before I made my first trip to Cuba 20 years ago.
Jan 19, 2013 1:45 PM
7I sent one reply which seems to have been lost but the basic message is, to the OP, my 2 cents say study up on your spanish as much as possible, take a class if needed, this is THE best way to find out how Cuba works, and read the guide books they are full of good info.....
Jan 19, 2013 4:09 PM
Jan 19, 2013 5:52 PM
Jan 19, 2013 7:25 PM
10The extent of changes in Cuba are entirely a function of how broadly one looks at the country and defines changes.
One can make a valid assertion that the basic culture of the Cuban people was not changed by the revolution or any events thereafter. Sure there have been changes but the basic attitude of the people of not worrying about those things they cannot control and making the best of what they have appears to have existed long before Fidel.
Or, one can have a narrower focus and see rapid changes in the last 2-3 years.
"change" can also be very geographical. Substantial changes for those in metropolitan or heavily touristed areas. But little change out in the campo where there is very little influence by what happens in Havana.
Jan 19, 2013 10:25 PM
Jan 19, 2013 10:27 PM
Jan 21, 2013 8:11 AM
Jan 21, 2013 10:39 AM
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