We are pivoting! It’s what we do. And we do not mean in ballet shoes on the streets of Havana. And we do not mean our legs and hips while dancing the salsa (though we have been practicing inside helped by a little Havana Club rum)! No, not our heads and hair that swirls in the wind as we look back at the photographer taking our photos in a classic convertible car gliding along the Malecon. We pivot. Cuba has done this for many years. And it is what the world must do each changing day of this global pandemic.
Cuba is all too familiar with restrictions and bans and shortages. Long lines waiting for necessities and ration stores with cards recording each family’s monthly allotment. Our younger generation of guides recalls vividly the 1991 loss of USSR support, which meant no fuel and no motorized transport. Cuba’s import capacity shrank 88%. The population survived by exploiting their creative powers to the maximum.
Everyone became a farmer and planted tomatoes and cabbage on their patios. Pigs and chickens raised in bathtubs. Families fell in love with their “pets,” so they would exchange them with neighbors to eat them without remorse.
One of our guides, whose excellent English diction and vocabulary delight everyone who meets him, rode a bicycle 2 hours round trip to attend university. Vinegar was shampoo. Soda bicarbonate and salt was toothpaste. Home-made pastry, tamales, and croquettes were baked and sold by academics. A constant state of pivoting and creativity was necessary for survival.
More recently, on top of the restrictions on trade with Cuba stemming from the US embargo, the addition of cruise ship landings, which brought hundreds of thousands of visitors to Cuba and helped private business blossom, and then the subsequent ban of cruise ships, overnight. The addition of US commercial flights across the island and then the limit to Havana-only-based flights. Pivot. Pivot. Pivot.
And on a micro-level, we think of our expert guides as master pivoters, who navigate each custom itinerary and marry the desires of the traveler with a landscape that is continually changing: last-minute closures, special dietary needs, and no Time Out guide. Our guides keep their ear to the street to provide the best experience possible. Time and again, we receive feedback and reviews that the skill and flexibility of our guides are what made the trip spectacular. The sharing of their stories, culture, history, and knowledge is how travel unites and makes for an enriching and enjoyable experience.
We join with all of you, our amazing travelers, our expert travel advisors, and our incredible industry partners in wishing everyone to stay safe and healthy during this time and to remain optimistic that it will pass. We will recover. We will be here.
The Cultural Cuba team looks forward to whisking you to the land of music, dance, art, history, mojitos, cigars, daiquiris, and gorgeous beaches. And a culture blossoming with creativity, even under these circumstances. Cuba awaits.
How can you ensure a successful and safe trip to Cuba? Be sure to work with a company that has specific experience planning Cuba travel logistics and can guide you regarding what to do (and what not to do) once you are on the Island. Cultural Cuba’s owner founder David Lee was named a 2020 Conde Naste Travel Specialist.
Feel free to contact us with any questions you have about private, custom, and legal travel to Cuba. Cultural Cuba seamlessly manages all the logistics so that our travelers can completely and safely enjoy a dynamic and enriching trip to Cuba.
ABOUT CULTURAL CUBA
Founded in 2011, Cultural Cuba is a leading travel company specializing in custom legal travel to Cuba. With offices in Orlando, Chicago, and Havana, the company curates niche itineraries using expert local Cuban guides, to provide immersive and off-the-beaten-path experiences. These tours directly support hundreds of Cubans including artists, musicians, dancers, school children, and small business owners, most of whom completely rely on the funds generated by these experiential tours. As a licensed tour operator, the company seamlessly manages all travel logistics and documentation through a highly trained, in-house, on-the-ground Havana and U.S.-based staff.