Want To Give A Rare And Precious Gift? How About A Trip To Cuba!

Do you want to give someone special a rare and precious gift this holiday?  What about a trip to Cuba, as it is, right now?   With all its blight, poverty and estrangement from the U.S., it is still on my list of “best trips” for the traveler, the historian, the photographer or the beach lover.

Havana is a city rich in culture, but lacking even a pretense of urban renewal.  So the question you may ask, is, why visit now?  Because change is inevitable, and when that change happens, this rare opportunity to see it as it is, with all its blemishes, will be lost forever.

The blight and poverty are real, but Cuba’s beauty will haunt you:

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And the beaches, on both the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean, stretch on and on and on.  Miles and miles of some of the most beautiful beaches you will ever see, on the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean.

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My recommendation to any world travelers who read our blog: travel to Cuba now.  It is only miles from our shores.  The people are friendly, the climate is perfect, and despite occasional reminders that we are “the imperialists”, the Cuban people and the Cuban government seem to welcome us with open arms.

If you’ve run out of ideas for holiday gifts, what about a visit to the most exotic destination within a one hour flight from our shores?  Cuba!

Habana: Sunrise Over a Once Forbidden City

Habana, Cuba.  In the states we refer to the city by the name Havana.  But it is their country and it seems they should receive deference in how to spell it.  Long forbidden to U.S. citizens, it is a place like no other.  Just 90 miles from the United States, it is shrouded in mystery.

The sunrise over Habana Harbor on the second morning of our visit was as dramatic as the city.  The sun was an intense reddish-orange and the clouds were dark as night.[1]

As I watched, the sunlight produced a softer image of the city around us illuminating the sky and the Atlantic Ocean in muted shades of grays and blues.

Within just a few additional minutes, the colors and the texture of the city were in full view.  This photograph reveals the contrast of the beauty and the decay that have enveloped Havana since Fidel Castro’s revolution. A revolution that has resulted in changes that continue to dominate life in Cuba more than 60 years later.

I had anticipated our trip to Cuba would be an exciting and a constantly changing experience for me, and for all the members of our tour.  I was right.

Our journey had really just begun.

[1]  These photographs were taken with my Nikon D5100 camera using a Tamron telephoto lens.  They are not altered or enhanced.  Their beauty and their flaws are all my own.  To stabilize my camera for these slow shots, I leaned against the railing on my 17th floor hotel room and held tight.