Cuba - Finding our own Goats in the Road.
By Helen Anderson, November 2018.
The Caribbean’s ‘forbidden island’ was always on our ‘to do’ list and with the rumblings of ‘see it before it changes’ ringing in our ears, we made a last-minute decision to explore its treasures. We wanted to travel independently, to go beyond the colourful photos of pastel pink buildings and 50’s vintage cars. But where to begin?
Cuba’s challenges are complicated and travel staples such as car rental go beyond a simple google. But don’t let that restrict your ambitions, with the right connections, support and planning, using your own four wheels gives you a freedom that takes you into the heart of this wonderful country. Because, while Cuba truly is amazing, it was the first time in many years that travel really challenged our senses, pricked our conscience, yet was exciting at the same time.
Unquestionably the faded grandeur of the architecture of the buildings throughout Cuba is incredible, not just the odd tourist enclave, but everywhere. In Havana looking up is as important as looking around; the symphony of sounds, live music intermingled with the throb of old 50’s Chevy engines, streets bustling with energy and the rich smell of life. Then there is Trinidad, a calm centuries-old colonial cobbled town with barely a building higher than two stories, almost no cars, where transport is horse and cart interspersed with the odd tractor.
Whilst these are all remarkable places to visit, it is off the beaten track, where the goats roam freely, that allowed us to melt into the culture of a country and experience the resilient, kind, resourceful people that live there. Where nothing is wasted, everything can be repurposed, food and water not only savoured but treasured. Where richness of life is not measured in material possessions but in family, community, health, education, culture, art and music. Where history has shaped a richness that provides so much more than the fragile economic infrastructure.
Cuba gave us a magical holiday but more importantly a chance to reflect on our own priorities and the opportunity to appreciate what we take for granted in our everyday lives. So please do go and visit Cuba. Visit it responsibly and knowledgably, without judging and enjoy the treasure of exploring and finding your own goats in the road.