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Somewhere between 1960 and 1962, Cuba was cut off several luxuries Americans take for granted. It is the only country in the world that has been frozen out by the United States for over 50 years. Cubans have a tremendous cultural, economic and social heritage that Americans know very little about. No doubt, as trade sanctions continue to be removed, though there is no guarantee they will, the “Island Nation” will begin to change. Now is the time to see Cuba, its people and heritage, as they have been “behind the iron curtain” for more than 50 years. There is no other opportunity in the world for Americans to see a country like this and it is only 90 miles off the Florida coast!

Cuba will never be the same.

Before crowds of people visit and tourist shops open, wander through Old Havana, a Unesco World Heritage site touting pretty buildings atop bricked streets. Stroll along the waterfront facing ancient castles, and chat with locals along the way.

Cuba is a cultural extravaganza.

Check out Trinidad, another UNESCO heritage site, where time paused in the mid-1800s. Trinidad’s culture deeply tangles in el campo (the countryside), with a soulful African touch due to 11,000 West Africans who were imported as slaves during Cuba’s sugar revolution. The trace of Africa enlivens the site with sultry African courtship dances, intensely stimulated by percussion based beats. Besides African dances, Cubans flow to the salsa all day – be sure to pick up some moves before you head home! On the other hand, the countryside culture brings handsomely groomed trotting horses along the streets. Take a ride on one to see various historic highlights… the Cantero Sugar Palace from 1830 coated with pearls, lace, crystal and marble… the bell tower (Museo Nacional de la Lucha Contra Bondidas) and plenty of Spanish colonial mansions, plazas and churches. With the white sand Caribbean beaches a bike ride away and the Escambray Mountains a mere 18 kilometers from Trinidad, you’ll effortlessly absorb plenty of rich Cuban culture.

Cuba is a food destination like no other.

Sip mojitos around the world, but enjoying this minty drink in Cuba can’t be compared; the beverage was invented there. Pair a mojito with  typical spicy food for a taste bud riot, but save room for cucurucho (fruity ice cream in a cone), nuts, famous coconut and honey on palm bark, and an ambrosia of juicy, organic fruit. Partake in a lovely meal at a private home while you can.

Cuba is a cigar smoker’s paradise.

“You always want what you can’t have,” certainly depicts the glory of puffing on a distinctly tasting Cuban cigar. Since the economic embargo in 1962, Cuban cigars have been difficult to obtain. Enjoy a Cuban cigar BEFORE they are exported to America; it won’t ever feel as special.

Cuba is old car heaven.

It’s a known fact: Cuba is loaded with classic, colorful muscle cars from the 1940s to the 1960s. Since 1962, American cars and their parts were forbidden to be exported to Cuba. Then, Fidel Castro banned Cubans from buying their own cars – they could only receive cars from the government, who never had enough money to buy cars from Europe or Asia. Vintage cars drive along the roads, forever stuck in the old-car era to appease any historic car lover’s fancy!

 

About Ricky Shore

Richard E. Shore, Jr. (Ricky) is the President & CEO of Aladdin Travel. “I joined the company in April 2004 with responsibilities for corporate sales and marketing and completed the purchase of Aladdin Travel in November 2012. I enjoy volunteering in the community and have served as president of the Winston-Salem Rotary Club and as a board member and president (2012-13) of the Children’s Museum of Winston-Salem. Finally, serving on the Vestry of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church as Junior and Senior Warden was a rewarding experience. Sally and I enjoy traveling, with and without family! Memories of crepes in Paris, the Cotswolds outside of London, golf in Scotland, the Great Wall of China, biking in Holland, Italy and the Salzkammergut (Lake District) of Austria and sightseeing in Spain abound. An occasional trip to the beach or the mountains is also welcome!

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