5 WAYS CUBA WILL NEVER BE THE SAME
In time, Cuba’s iconic 1950s American automobiles will lose their utility and be relegated to tourist attractions. It’s hard to say how long it will take for Cubans to update their vehicles—the Cuban government is protecting the ancient cars and auto sales have been slow thus far—but it is sure to come.
Takeaway: If a nation filled with classic 1950s automobiles is your dream destination, plan to visit Cuba within the next five years.
Credit to Aaron Clifford, July 2015
Cuba is poised for another revolution. As the U.S. proceeds with plans to normalize relations and embassies open in both nations, major tour and cruise operators line up to access the island. On the Cuban side, a growing infrastructure is preparing to handle an influx of American tourists. Up by twenty percent over the last year, tourism has the potential to change everything in Cuba.
Today, much of Cuba’s appeal stems from the unique conditions under which the nation evolved for the last half-century. It has been described as forbidden fruit for U.S. travelers, but Cuba is more than just an offbeat destination. The island has a unique culture that combines traits of its
Caribbean heritage with American culture and attributes of communist societies around the globe.
There is no question the quaint Cuba we know now will be unrecognizable in another half-century. But what will change in the next year or two? What elements that make up the Cuban mystique will disappear once the door is open? What does this mean for travelers who want to see the “old Cuba” before it catches up to the present day?
Cuba’s buildings are nearly as frozen in time as the island’s automobiles. New industry, foreign investment and affordable construction materials will soon change the appearance of Havana and its neighboring cities and villages. Expect buildings in poor condition to be replaced, while others will be repaired and updated over the coming years.
Takeaway: Visit Cuba within the next five years if you want to experience the faded glory of its classic architecture.
CIGARS & RUM
If you enjoy a fine cigar and a glass of authentic rum, Cuba’s best is now available for home consumption. Americans visiting Cuba are allowed to return with $100 of cigars and/or liquor. Buying cigars at the source promises greater authenticity—many of the “Cuban” cigars sold abroad are actually imposters.
Takeaway: Consider booking soon if you want to be among the first to bring home genuine Cuban rum and cigars.
HOME GROWN FOOD
A percentage of Cuba’s produce is grown locally in small, organic, urban farms and gardens. Increased trade will likely replace these vegetables with imports from industrial farms. Cubans will have better access to food, but a degree of quality, variety and uniqueness will be lost in the change. The local, organic meals lovingly prepared in neighborhood paladares—tiny restaurants in converted homes—will follow the same recipes, but the food won’t have the same qualities.
Takeaway: If authentic Cuban food is what you desire, visit before trade is in full swing.
Cubans are known for espousing their beliefs in public to all who will listen, and the nation is famous for its organized sidewalk discussions. Politics and baseball are two of the primary topics, and all indicators suggest this will continue to be so. However, the national discussion may not be so public in the future.
The Internet has the greatest potential to change Cuba. Available to only a quarter of the population at present, the Internet is filled with ideas, information and discussions that will have a profound impact on the nation’s culture.
Takeaway: Take part in the passionate public discourse now, before Cuba’s national conversation goes digital.