Álvaro, Antonio, Sergio, Carlos, Aberto and Borja are six 26-year-old friends who not only share their passion for medicine, but also enjoy traveling together. In the month of November (an ideal month to travel to Cuba as the temperature is cooler, perfect for the beach, but without rain or high humidity) they have enjoyed a 10-day route designed by CubaUnique, and comfortably, on board a minivan with driver, have made a 10 days tour around Habana-Cienfuegos-Villa Clara & Trinidad.
Why did you decide to travel to Cuba?
Everyone agrees that the island caught their attention not only as a tourist destination of sun and beach, but rather as a universe to discover at a political, economic and social level; A country with a rich and different culture. It also motivated them to try to take an inside look at Cuba, in these that they consider times of change, as Álvaro comments:
"I think I came at the right time ... the situation 5 or 10 years ago was very different from what is today, and what will be in a few years"
What did you expect from the trip?
The expectations before traveling were very high: they thought about having a good time with friends, meeting new people, visiting beautiful natural landscapes and, on the other hand, they were certain that “CubaUnique agency had prepared a trip with very interesting and attractive field trips”. But once in Cuba they were not only satisfied, because their expectations were met - according to Antonio - "all, without a doubt!", But Cuba exceeded them, leaving them positively surprised. Carlos points out that he loved that
“the agency adapted the route to the preferences we had and the recommendations were very positive”
What did you like most about the trip?
Habana was drawn as a wonderful and incredible city, in which they also made good Cuban friends thanks to Gabriela, the young independent local guide-philologist and professor of Caribbean Literature at the Faculty of Arts and Letters of the University of the Habana- with which they enjoyed 3 intense days around the city and with whom they made a great friendship, “It was from the heart, I guess it will be because we are the same age”, says Gabriela, or it will probably be also because they shared unrepeatable moments like a lunch at Gabriela's house accompanied by her closest family and friends.
For Carlos, Habana is the most peculiar city he has visited. "I particularly loved that chaos that is Habana, the romantic madness of Old Habana" where he walked freely and confessed that "nobody was scary".
Cuba is one of the safest countries in all of Latin America. Alberto tells us that he has seen a lot of world, but he had never felt the essence of that world before... until now. While for Borja, the most exciting thing was
“See and know Cuban society, how people have shown us the country. It's not just visiting the spots, it's how we lived Cuba; Cuba is not just to see, you have to feel it. ”
Lake Hanabanilla (Villa Clara)
They visited some of the most emblematic provinces of the country: Habana, Viñales, Cienfuegos, Santa Clara, Trinidad, where they discover unique routes, both interesting and fun. What they enjoyed most was the field trip in Villa Clara to Lake Hanabanilla, a place, according to Antonio, “spectacular, and free of tourist crowds", and that, as Borja comments, aroused many feelings:"freedom, feeling alive, well-being and fullness, from the connection with nature”
This was also Carlos favourite, with its Cascada Trinitaria waterfall on Sendero de los Helechos
“Highly recommended for people of our age who want to discover primeval nature landscapes”
Without hesitation, the people ...
Something that makes Cuba a special country is its people, and for these young professionals, Cubans were definitely the best, or as they said: "the friendliest" They described them as: wonderful, cheerful, smiling... and it might sound cheesy, but in the words of Borja "the best part of the trip has been, without a doubt, the Cubans ... they will make us rethink many things when we return to Spain.”
Others, like Alberto, the contact with Cubans reminded him of his hometown: “Cádiz is a place where people are warm, close, and I love people who are able to get something more out of you.”For Sergio, the most comforting thing was to be able to consider many of those he met in Cuba as friends, including the guides who accompanied them during their trip, with whom he was very comfortable, as if they had known each other for a lifetime; although "sometimes a little overwhelmed on the street where you got offered so many things... I always felt like family.”
What do you take with you from Cuba?
For Antonio, coming to Cuba was like taking a trip to the past, to a place where having a car, for example, is not something as common as in Spain, but where “you breathe tradition, history, culture".
Carlos takes from Cuba "the ability to adapt to the social situation, the way in which everyone manages to get a life, and how everyone has something to offer you."Sergio could not help catching the tempo in which life flows on the island, and admire"the way in which people face their problems, in a more relaxed way. Nobody is in a hurry or rush you”They appreciate having a trip so well organized, and experiencing the pleasant feeling of being well received and taken care of wherever they arrived.
They also take from Cuba that when you open a bottle of rum you have to pour a little on the ground first, «for the saintsthat moving the hips to the rhythm of music can be learned; that the best drinks are the guarapo (juice of the sugar cane), the rum, the Cristal beer and the cubalibre; that all the streets have their charm, but the most intense are Prado, Malecon, Obispo, the 23rd Avenue and Villegas (a small, frantic and colorful alley of Old Habana); that a very special place can be the House of Music of Trinidad, or Viñales, or a bar, or any space to share with good friends, but without a doubt a park with Wi-Fi connection is an oasis, not because of the imperative need of being connected, but because there the Cubans meet, and they are seen in their daily life, their way of speaking, of communicating, their reality; that of all the words "malanga" may be the most audible, the most musical, the most authentic, the one that best communicates.
It is for these reasons, and for many others you can't tell, like those little things that make you fall in love, and transform you, that these friends agree to describe Cuba as an eclectic, wonderful and really intense island... A place where they would return again without a doubt.
From CubaUnique we want to say THANK YOU GUYS! We are very grateful for your words, for traveling with that bold and open-hearted spirit, for knowing how to look and enjoy... Travelers like you are the ones who know how to value the greatness of this island and their people. And above all THANK YOU for your kind disposition to this interview and photo shoot, you look radiant with happiness! We are glad to have shared a little of our love for this country with you and we hope to have the opportunity in the future to meet again. How about a route through eastern Cuba? ;o)
Article written by Gabriela Rodríguez, (independent Cuban guide), and Bárbara Pérez, (CubaUnique CEO). Pictures by Cuban photographer Carlos Vila.
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