I read my Cuba posts to Stephen as he was cruising along I81 in New York State last night, and he had some suggestions for things he would have included, but which I didn’t. I found it interesting that the things he thought were worth mentioning never even made it past my “write about this” radar, so I thought I’d throw them out there for your reading pleasure.
He thought I should have mentioned how safe the country is to visit. Cubans love tourists and are friendly, cheerful, helpful and welcoming. Whether on the resort or off, we felt completely safe and secure at all times. Stephen wanted me to point out that it wasn’t the presence of police or military that made us feel safe – there was no military presence, and the only police we saw were one motorcycle officer out for a ride, and one lady officer walking a beat in the vicinity of the cigar factory. He seems to think people have the misconception that a Communist state means military personnel on every corner, armed to the teeth – which is simply not the case. He thought the differences between the one police officer we did see, and those at home needed to be mentioned – yes, she was armed, but her gun was fully holstered, and she did not have a billy club hanging by her side. Her uniform was dark and inconspicuous, with no insignias blazoned anywhere.
Stephen also thought the airport merited mention. Airport? Why? It’s an airport. He thought I should point out how clean it was and how courteous and friendly everyone was, even the customs officials. I don’t know what customs official he dealt with (we were in separate booths) but mine was a rather dour, unsmiling chap who looked bored out of his skull (as well he might be, sitting behind a plexiglass screen perusing ghastly passport photos all day). I also should have mentioned how organized the airport was, with signs guiding you from line to line – yes, you line up A LOT! – and how once we’d cleared customs there was a representative from Sunwing there with a list. We had to check in with him, and he told us which bus we were to board to get to our hotel. I just assumed this would be the case with a Sunwing or any other tour pretty much any place. I didn’t think this was out of the ordinary, but he’s traveled more than I have.
I am also supposed to tell you that the buses on which we traveled were not open air rattletraps shared with baskets of fruit and cages of squawking chickens, but rather luxurious, air-conditioned coaches with reclining seats and cup holders. Made In China.
Would I return to Cuba? Absolutely. Interestingly, many of the people with whom we spoke had already visited Cuba multiple times, and also plan to return in the future. I think if we return, we will go to a different part of the island, to see different things. Would I advise you to go to Cuba? Absolutely. It was a wonderful holiday in a magnificent setting.