I have been quiet here for a while. My excuse, well, I’ve been away. So far 2014 hasn’t quite turned out how I expected, so we decided to go abroad, go somewhere where things were different, somewhere where I could think about things other than the everyday.
So we went to Cuba. Cuba which is full of colour and contradictions; a land of poverty and beauty, romance and communism, raw wounds and renewed optimism. Here was a place that made us wonder and made us think, a place that has been used by others but is getting ready to come out of a long hibernation.
As a lover of food this holiday was a challenge. But the food scene is changing in Cuba. Now that individuals are allowed to run their own restaurants, good food and fine dining are becoming easier to find. The highlight was at the renowned La Guarida in Havana, which gave us original and flavoursome food set in a stunning old colonial apartment building. But outside of Havana we struggled to find anything really eye catching. No matter, we had plenty to hold our attention.
Much of the famed architecture is crumbling away, but, slowly but surely, many pre-revolutionary buildings are being restored. The Cubans have realised that tourism may be their saviour and they are doing their best to attract us to their enticing country.
Old cars abound the streets of Havana, the smell of cigars pervades the city air and you are encouraged to drink rum wherever you go. Life is laid back, nothing happens in a hurry, which is just fine when you are holiday. Driving can be a bit of an ordeal with potholes everywhere and very few road signs to help you on your way; luckily we have good map readers in our family.
We could not have been more welcomed, wherever we went. Although the Cubans realise the potential of tourism no one was ever pushy, they still had a smile on their faces when we said no.
But we hardly scratched the surface. There was so much more to do, so much art and music that we didn’t get the opportunity to see. And, I’m sure, if we’d been bolder, we’d have found the food to sooth our souls. But we didn’t go away to be bold, we went away to recover and to find optimism and creativity.
And we found that, in spades. So we’ll go back to dig beneath the surface, but without the kids next time…