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6 Reasons Why I Can't Wait to Visit Cuba

©istockphoto/ArtMarie

©istockphoto/ArtMarie

With the U.S Government relaxing visitation rules for Cuba, Americans are lining up to visit the island. While some restrictions are still in place, the arduous paperwork requirements have been lifted, making it easier to arrange travel there.

The Crowds are Coming
According to numbers released by the Cuban government, the island hosted more than 2.8 million tourists in 2013 with only about 92,000 of them being Americans. The Huffington Post reports that vacation rental search engine Tripping.com saw a 126 percent increase in searches for Cuban properties while Tivago.com reports a 180 percent increase both since President Obama’s announcement of the lifting of old regulations. With the relaxing of the embargo and the rules of travel, this will become the new hot spot of the Caribbean and I want to get there before the crowds.

The Old Cars are Going
Since the embargo began on October 19th, 1960 Cuba has not been able to import U.S. cars among other products. This means the island is populated with pre-1960 era cars. Somehow, through the black market and with Cuban ingenuity, they have kept these relics of American automotive engineering running. Havana is especially notable for its massive amount of these old beauties, and it’s like a trip into the past to see them driving around. I’m sure there are some mighty ingenious repairs and modifications that have been done to these classic cars as well. It might not be long before the island fills with brand new minivans, SUVs, and Priuses, so I want to go now before the classics go away.

The Food is Hot
Most of us like spicy food and it seems so do the Cubans. Cuba was colonized by the Spanish, but with the colonists from France, slaves from Africa, and the fact that it was an important port in the past several centuries; their cuisine is a mismatch of several cultures. Rice and beans are big staples and being that it is an island; seafood is a culinary specialty as well. Cuban sandwiches are popular in Florida but good ones are harder to find further up north. Made with Cuban bread which is cooked with lard instead of oil, these sandwiches consist of sliced roast pork, thinly slice serrano ham, Swiss cheese, dill pickles and yellow mustard then pressed in a grill. They have become more and more popular throughout the States but real ones are hard to duplicate, especially because of the Cuban bread.

©istockphoto/christophe_cerisier

©istockphoto/christophe_cerisier

The Scenery is Spectacular
Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean, 17th largest in the world and as such, has thousands of miles of sandy beaches. There are also mountains, jungles and almost everything in between. The island is 780 miles long and has a land area of 40,369 sq. miles. Though most of it consists of rolling plains the Sierra Maestra Mountains in the southeast side has a high point of 6,476 ft. on Pico Turquino. With average temperatures ranging from 69.8 degrees in January to 80.6 degrees in July this puts Cuba in a comfort zone we can all appreciate.

Location, Location, Location
Although Cuba is only about 90 miles from Key West, the southern—most point of the U.S., the rules and regulations have made the distance seem insurmountable. Once un-restricted tourism is available direct flights from many U.S. cities will make it the easiest destination in the Caribbean.

The Music
The musical history of Cuba is so rich it could not be done justice here. Suffice it say the Cuban mixture of Jazz, Salsa, Rhumba and other Caribbean influences adds to the richness and texture and makes for intoxicating music. The clave rhythm and conga drums which are iconic parts of Cuban music will make anyone get up and dance and are symbolic of a Caribbean party.

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