Cuba is Complicated

Far from frozen in time. Sadly that’s all many tourists see.

Before our global crisis I based in Havana for two years. And the longer I stayed the more I realized how little I knew.

In one week I’d be filled with tears with frustration because everything is hard to do. The same week I thought I was in the best place on earth.

Cuba is complicated and yet people want to know answers to over simplistic questions – most often “are Cubans happy?”

Yes! And no! Like all of us it depends on the time, the person, the situation.

And while tourists want to visit it before it changes to drive in classic cars, smoke cigars and drink mojitos.

The real Cuba is much different. It is not frozen in time. It changes, just at a different speed.

Everyone is on the internet. They know mainstream media. Cuba isn’t frozen but it is different.

Cubans are fiercely proud and the culture is tight knit.

There is an energy that is really special about Cuba.

And no matter how frustrated I am when I leave. I always go back.

 
Cuban food, liver, malanga, tomatoes, cucumbers and cabbage on a plate
Cubans are excellent at cooking offcuts like liver.

CUBAN RECIPES AT HOME

Cuban food gets a bad rap because the best food is at home. And the really great food is outside Havana.

Cuban food reflects its history, you’ll see traditional Spanish food brought by the conquistadors like churros.

But you’ll also see a strong African culinary influence because of the slave trade that brought many Africans to Cuba.

My favourite dish is Cuban fufu, which originated in Ghana but evolved in Cuba and is made with plantains, somewhat similar to mofongo in Puerto Rico.

Cubans are the masters of making do.

They don’t have consistent access to ingredients so they do the best they can.

And in many ways that’s impressive – because Italians would lose their sh*t if garlic belonged in a recipe and they couldn’t find it.

But Cubans, would see they have mountain garlic and just use that.

They make terrible international food, so when in Cuba eat Cuban food. FYI tacos are Mexican not Cuban 😁 .

I have marked dishes that are Vegan (V), Gluten-Free (GF), Dairy Free (DF)

MAINS

Elena Ruz Sandwich
13 Healthy Cuban Recipes

DRINKS

Crema de Vie
Cuba Libre

DESSERTS

Cuban Flan (GF)



Santa Clara Cuba street with vintage car and motorcycle

TRAVEL IN CUBA

More than salsa, cigars and classic cars.

I was intimidated by Cuba. Although I had traveled solo throughout Latin America I had no idea what to expect.

Everything seems complicated. Would there be stores? ATMs? Restaurants?

Cuba is much more developed than you’d expect. Internet has gotten dramatically better. Restaurants are everywhere.

And while salsa is everywhere. You’re more likely to hear reggaetón in the streets.

Sure take the classic Cadillac car ride. It’s touristy but also a must do.

But then be open to walking the streets, eating in local restaurants and music that isn’t Guantanamera.

Although I traveled independently in Cuba, read about my 10 day Cuba tour. It gave a fair and balanced view of cities.

FOOD + DRINK

Cuban Food: 30+ Dishes to Try
Cuban Coffee
Cuban Drinks: 21 Cocktails
Cuban Fruit: Exotic Fruit to Try

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

Cuban Packing List
Cuban Currency
Cuban Movies + Documentaries
Internet in Cuba

CULTURE + CUSTOMS

Cuban Slang
Hemingway in Cuba
Summer in Cuba

CITIES + TOWNS

Havana
Best Havana Restaurants By Neighbourhood
El Capitolio
Havana Beaches: Playas del Este
Las Terrazas Day Trip

Santa Clara
Santa Clara Cuba: LGBT + Revolutionary Capital

Trinidad
48 Hours in Trinidad Cuba

Varadero
Best Varadero Restaurants

HOLIDAYS + EVENTS

Christmas in Cuba

 
Ayngelina Brogan at the museum of the Revolution in Havana, Cuba.

STORIES FROM CUBA

I arrived in Cuba after a difficult year and just couldn’t leave.

The Year I Was On My Own Again
That Cuban Secret I’ve Been Hiding
Have I Stayed in Cuba Too Long?

WANT MORE ON CUBA?

Helpful links to help you make the most out every moment and flavour of Cuba.

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