Wednesday, October 25, 2006
After spending a rather relaxing summer in England with friends and family I'm yearning for a few rays of sunshine. August was lots of fun, visiting people who'd been out to Paris to visit us, and catching up on real English life with curry and everything. Recently though, I've been thinking I'd like to try out a little dépaysement (lovely French word meaning getting out of your own country and soaking yourself in new cultures). So, last week, with two friends, G and I decided to book a trip to Cuba. I've never been to the Carribean, despite studying its literature at university, and always had a desire to go to Martinique, Guadeloupe or this fascinating communist country with Chevrolets from the sixties, ornate crumbling buildings from before Castro's time and soft, sandy beaches with coloured fish darting about in the transparent water below.
I've been doing my homework and reading about Castro and Guevara; it seems like the Cubans have had their fair share of oppression, rationing and authority. Now it seems it's time for them to be overrun by tourists. Several sites state that the absence of Americans on the island is a real saving grace; it isn't overcrowded like other islands can be, and tourists are actually welcomed by many of the inhabitants, who regularly put them up in their houses (for a price of course). The fact that Americans are banned from the island is not necessarily a good thing though, the trade embargo has crippled the population in the last decade and with the fall of the Soviet Union they are looking to tourism now as a major income source for the coming years.
Well, I'm happy to oblige. I'm very much looking forward to jetting off on New Year's day from freezing France and touching down in hazy Havana, sipping mojitos and certainly engaging in a spot of salsa every now and again. Salsa isn't forbidden by Castro, right?