I have used Cuba in a number of examples in my recent blog posts (whether you have caught on to that or not) and there is a perfectly good reason for it. Cuba is fantastic.
That statement alone should be enough to convince you to consider it as a destination for your next trip. After all, who are you to argue with me? However, since I am a reasonable person, I suppose I will provide you with a few more facts to back up my hypothesis.
1. Cuba is colourful. If you have ever seen a picture of a simple store front in Cuba this point is obvious as they truly support the full spectrum of colours in their decorating schemes, houses, clothing and art. From the teal blue vintage car parked beneath a palm tree to the festive purple and yellow street entertainers on stilts, you won’t find any watered down, grey tones in this country, in fact there might just be an unwritten law against them.
It is not just the landscape though but the culture which is where the country’s real colours come out. From the bone crushing handshake you receive from store owners to the animated gestures of people leaning out the windows and shouting across the street to one another, there is truly something spectacular about a culture of people who are not run by their schedules and believe that any time of day is a good time for a siesta.
2. Cuba is warm. This point really doesn’t need an explanation if you consider that I am writing this post in Canada, during January and it is minus -12 outside, feeling more like -26 with the wind chill and there is about two feet of snow on the ground that I am going to have to scrap off my car at the end of the day. I’d be willing to trade my snow shovel and frostbite for a beach and a mojito in a heartbeat. And I bet you would be too, so let’s move on.
3. The Cuban people. Let me explain. Besides the fact that tourism is Cuba’s largest source of economic exchange making the travel industry extremely vital to the Cuban people and therefore tourists extremely important as a result, Cuban people are friendly and naturally will make you feel welcomed. You will be greeted with smiles from the minute you step off the plane. If you are Canadian you can probably expect to be treated even better with extended tourist cards automatically included in your airfare and locals that will go above and beyond to cater to your needs. But as I said, the Cuban culture is open and always eager to make friends. From the bartenders serving you delicious daiquiris (which isn’t surprising since we all know that bartenders are basically underpaid, unlicensed psychiatrists in disguise) to the maids at the resort, almost anyone you meet will happily listen to your life’s story and tell you their own. The Cuban workers legitimately appreciate the tourists that actually take the time to be friendly almost more than they appreciate tips.
4. Learning opportunities. Are you looking to get into the education, healthcare, hospitality or tourism sector? Cuba is a great place to look for internships or even participate in a short crash course educational program on cigar making. With the aforementioned friendliness of the people, they are eager to share what they have and teach the next generations. Cuba has many high quality colleges and universities such as the University of Havana. One of their main exports is pharmaceutical supplies which indicated that their healthcare system and medical advances aren’t exactly lacking either. Despite what many people think, Cuba is not an impoverished nation when compared to the majority of the world. Yes, they do have a socialist society and many people live on $20.00 a month. But when your housing, education and healthcare is all free, electricity is cheap and you can pick up a week supply of food for on a few dollars at the local market, the system works. And in terms of education or maybe just a new cultural viewpoint, they have much to teach the world.
If you are interested in picking up a bit of the local culture, language and learning something new in the process, there are programs available to help get you connected. A number of international internship programs are bridging the gap and crossing borders to bring students to Cuba so that they can continue their education in a hands-on learning environment. There are also shorter programs for people who might just want to have a unique experience on their next week long vacation. Four month long internships in education or two week long edutourism programs in photography are all possible. And let’s face it, that sounds much more exciting than being stuck in an office building while the snow piles up outside.
Here is a quick list of just some of the educational tourism options available to tourists that only have a few days or weeks for their vacation but want to learn something new and interesting:
- Water Ballet
- Fine Art Canvas Painting
- Vintage Car Mechanic
- Cuban Jazz Musician
- Cuban Dance
- Cocktail Artist
- The Art of Scents
- Architecture Restoration
Check out the CubaPLUS magazine for more featured articles on some of the sights and attractions that can be found in Cuba. And if you are interested in inquiring about international Cuban internship programs and tourism information, check out the resources listed below.
International Career Studies - http://english360.ca/internationalcareerstudies.php
Cuba Tourism Board - http://www.gocuba.ca/client/home/index.php
CubaPLUS - http://cubaplus.ca/Volume20/index.php