A Spotlight On Cuba
Said to be trapped in the past, many people remark that travelling to Cuba is a lot like taking a time machine to the 1960s. With its classic car riddled streets and brightly painted buildings, it’s no wonder Cuba still remains a popular destination for tourists. For the locals however, hearing their beloved capital Havana classed as “The Wonder City” sparks disbelief. Let’s take a trip to a country frozen in time…
Music, Music, Music
What would Cuba be without Salsa music? A common occurrence amongst bars and clubs, the sound of the piano and bongo drums whirls through the city almost every night. Even modern clubs have their go at hosting a salsa night before a hip DJ takes the decks and plays until the birds begin to chirp. The music however, stems from something much deeper. After the revolution of 1959 and throughout the Cold War, Cuba lived in the shadow of a US invasion. When the Eastern bloc and the Soviet Union collapsed, Cuba plummeted into a financial and social crisis that nearly brought the country to its knees. Along with José Martí – Nicolas Guillén and Fernando Ortiz are Cuba’s major literary ideologues. All of them regarded music and other art forms as a key source of a new political awakening, leading to a new and free Cuba in the period from 1870 to 1987. So be sure to remember when visiting Cuba and listening to the beautiful rhythms of Salsa music, why Salsa is so important to them and why it should be celebrated as an art form.
Fresh, Honest Food
Famous for more than just Cigars, Cuba is rightfully known for eating only clean and fresh foods. The consumption of processed foods is low because there are limited big chain stores that carry those manufactured goods. During Cuba’s isolation, the lack of fertilizer led them to become a pioneer in organic farming, producing some of the most delicious food worldwide. With influences from the Caribbean islands that surround it, as well as France, Portugal, Spain, Africa and China, Cuban cuisine has a vibe and flavour that can’t be matched in any other ethnic dishes. A lot of the foods are subject to being slow-cooked with a variety of spices and herbs (though favourably garlic and oregano), meaning they’re an extremely good source of nutrients and vitamins without all those horrible saturated fats. A staple part of nearly every lunch and dinner for Cuban’s is rice and beans. Named Congri, this Cuban speciality consisting of -you guessed it- rice and black beans is enjoyed across all of Cuba, differing slightly in its ingredients town to town.
The People of Cuba
Said to be some of the kindest and most honest people on the planet, Cubans will talk to anyone and everyone and truly invest the time in getting to understand other people and their cultures. A quality somewhat lost in other Western countries, driving into the city you’ll notice people spending quality time with one another; talking to neighbours, riding around together on bicycles or playing basketball. People truly wish to engage with one another and their friends and family are favoured above all else. Perfect for tourists, their welcoming nature allows you to truly become a part of their communities. Cubans want visitors to have a positive outcome of their cherished country which makes them extremely honest people. If you were to leave a camera or a phone in a restaurant, for example, odds are someone would happily return it. Despite the troubles Cubans have faced politically over the years, Cubans are proud of where they come from often putting it down to their friendly culture, breath-taking landscapes and consistent climate.
The official language spoken in Cuba is Spanish and the locals take kindly to those who take the time to learn their beautiful language. Do not feel disheartened however if you’ve brushed up on your Spanish and have a hard time understanding the Cubans – slang derived from the street, Afro-Cuban religions and other sources coupled with the speed and accent with which Cubans speak, can confuse even those who speak Spanish fluently. To really make a lasting impression however, our Beginners Spanish course is perfect for learning the correct words and phrases to really fit in with the community.