Armchair Travel – Cuba

Landscape view of a tobacco farm. The tobacco leaves are drying on the roof of the little hut.

Interesting facts about Cuba

Cuba has nine UNESCO World Heritage sites; two of them natural and the other seven cultural. Old Havana is one of the cultural world heritage sites. Another one is Trinidad town centre (photos below).

A big Cuban flag is hanging from the balcony of an old, elegant building on Plaza e Armas, Havana.
Plaza de Armas – the oldest plaza in Havana. If you love second hand book stalls, this is the place for you!

Cuba has one of the highest literacy rates in the world, 99.8%. In 1961 Castro’s government launched the Cuban Literacy Campaign. It lasted for one year and its aim was abolishing illiteracy and making school accessible to everyone, especially people from marginalised backgrounds. Education became mandatory from ages 6 -15. Private schools and universities were nationalised. Literate Cubans were sent to rural areas to teach adults and children how to read and write. Education is still free for all Cubans and so is medical care.

One of the iconic images of Havana, a row of 50's American cars all clean waiting for tourists to take on a tour.
One of the iconic views of Havana.

Havana is home to one of the largest ballet schools in the world. It was founded in 1948 by Alicia Alonso, the third most influential ballerina of all time. Ballerinas can potentially earn more than doctors.

Speaking of doctors, Cuba has 70 000 of them. All of Africa has only 50 000…

Ernest Hemingway lived in Cuba for twenty years and wrote two of his most famous novels there; The Old Man and the Sea and For Whom the Bell Tolls. He proclaimed that the best Daquiri he ever had was in a bar called La Floridita which can be found at the El Capitoilo end of Obispo street.

The husband posing next to a dark green Ural motorcycle with a side car. The sidecar's front has a painted on red hammer and sickle.
On the left of the husband posing by this bike + sidecar we wanted to buy, is La Bodegita del Medio, one of the most famous bars in Havana that Hemingway himself visited

90% of Cubans own their own homes.

The empty streets of Trinidad with a blue old timer parked under a mango tree.

Santeria is the second most popular religion after Catholicism. It is an amalgamation between the traditional Yoruba religion of West Africa and the Roman Catholic form of Christianity.

A view down the cobbled street of Trinidad. The street is passing next to houses with big windows with wrought iron grills.
The cobbled streets of Trinidad’s UNESCO Heritage centre,

Government vehicles are legally required to pick up any hitchhikers. Hitchhiking is very popular in Cuba.

A taxi driver is sitting in the shade of a big tree in a middle of a lonely road in the rural area of Cuba. His car is a Russian Lada with mismatched car panels.
Afternoon siesta

On New Year’s Eve, many Cubans burn life-sized rag dolls (monigotes) as a way of bidding farewell to the old year. Another New Years tradition is to take an uncooked egg and rub it over your whole body, paying particular attention to the soles of your feet and your head, then smash it whilst making a wish for the year ahead. The egg absorbs anything negative in your life and this ritual is to purify you for the year ahead.

Spending hours in souvenir shops trying not to spend all our money on colourful paintings.
Souvenir shop

Cuba’s coastline stretches more than 5,700 km.

The most popular beach location in Cuba, Varadero. This white sand beach stretches for 20km (12 miles).

This Caribbean island is a full of life! It is home to the largest flamingo colonies in the western hemisphere. From an estimated 7000 different species of plants, half of them are endemic. Cuba is also a home to the is the two smallest memebers of their species: the smallest bird in the world, the bee hummingbird measuring just 5 cm from beak to tail and world’s smallest frog that is only 10 mm (0.39 in) long.

One more wildlife interesting fact – there are no animals or plants on the island that are poisonous or lethal to humans.

Cuba is one of the safest countries in Latin America, with almost no violent crime and one of the most popular destinations for solo female travellers in the world.

A beach in Trinidad. There was yellow crabs the size of my fist scuttering in the scorching sand.

Bacardi Rum was originally manufactured in Cuba (there is a Bacardi building in Havana). Once Castro took over, production was moved to Puerto Rico.

Until 2008, Cubans were not allowed to own cell phones or computers. Even Wi-Fi hotspots didn’t come in until 2015. 

Parque Jose Marti, one of the hot spots in Cienfuegos.

Cuba offered to pay a US$270 million Soviet-era debt to the Czech Republic entirely in rum

Both men and women in Cuba are required to serve two years of compulsory military service between 17 and 28 years of age

This view ❤
Sun rising over Malecon, Havana. It is early morning and there are only two cars one the road, one of which is a mint coloured 1951 Chevrolet.
Can’t you just hear the Buena vista Social Club’s Chan Chan playing in the background ❤

Check out more posts on Cuba and our two week trip

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