If your soul has an untamed and insatiable curiosity for the exotic (as ours does) then likely you have had the desire to travel to CUBA. A country that stands still in time, a postage stamp of culture insulated from the rest of the world, and “heartbreakingly beautiful” as Bourdain puts it. We travel to the island in collaboration with Del Caimán, a non-profit founded by Cubans to empower diverse artists with a platform and connection to the global community. “Cuban ART is a monument to perseverance”, a word that could easily describe much of the culture and way of life in CUBA.
Perseverant, yes. Also, passionate, proud, sultry, rich in tradition, and creatively ingenious. Cuban’s style evokes an essence and sway unlike any other. Their kindness is infectious, music and art a form of storytelling, and rum an elixir of the gods that makes for the perfect daiquiri. Havana, the capital, is rich with architectural buildings of a bygone era, lingering facades, stunning in form and beauty, remnants of once colonial opulence. Cars from the ‘50s and plumes of smoke from hand rolled cigars off the lips of elders have vibrant presence, while outside the capital bleached out beaches and glistening shorelines contrast the islands interior of rugged terrain and tobacco fields as far as the eye can see.
Curious to journey deeper into the essence CUBA? We visit Cuba through the eyes of Cubans.
With an early afternoon arrival in Havana, we welcome the heat and are whisked out of the city to an exquisite private mountain retreat in Terrazas. Situated in a UNESCO biosphere this western region is expansive and beautiful – the air is fresh and the tropical swimming holes seductive. After an evening immersed in nature, we continue to Viñales, where rugged vignettes frame the mountains and valleys as if from a dream – breathtaking and picturesque, tobacco claiming its presence, captivating the senses. Here we find connection with one of the islands staple crops and legacy for the best cigars in the world.
On the third day we escape to the coast experiencing the wild and remote white sand beach of Cayo Jutia, a paradise only for those who know where to look. After moments of tranquility, reflection, and rejuvenation amidst the expansive Caribbean blue we journey back to the countryside for a Cuban style pig roast reveling in a style of living authentic to the island’s interior.
In beautiful contrast to the outlying regions of the island our final two days are spent exploring Havana – immersing in the most iconic landmarks, wandering the plazas, and driving the streets from the vantage point of a classic car. While the sun dips into the horizon we tuck into acclaimed restaurants and bars, once frequented by the likes of Ernest Hemingway, often accompanied by dance and local music.