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Cuba has become a must-see place recently. The Castro brothers eased restrictions for travelling of Cuban people 5 years ago, allowing them  to bring 120 kg of personal items on the way back after the first trip. For the next one, the limit is only 32 kg. In practice, this means that the country is changing. Despite worship for revolutionaries, brothers Castro and Che Guevara, the inhabitants are more and more open to the western traditions or hungry for knowledge about what is going on outside the island. At the same time, Raul, according to Cubans, is gentler than his brother, but there are still many restrictions in Cuba which you will not see at first glance.

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When I got off the plane at the airport in Havana, I felt as if I had stepped back in time, as if I had gone back to Poland from my childhood. Poland from before 20 years. This feeling has accompanied me throughout my trip in this country, and in particular I was charmed by the goodness, selflessness and positive attitude of the inhabitants of the island. After many trips to Asia or Africa, I can honestly say that I have soaked in the belief that everyone wants to cheat on you or to get as much money from you as possible. You will not experience this in Cuba. A taxi driver will be happy to take you to a friend’s hostel, not because he is greedy (you will not even be asked for a tip), but because he wants his neighbors live as well as he does. Of course, everyone wants to earn as much as possible, you must be aware that there is still food quantity regulation in Cuba, so not all residents can afford a decent living. From tourism, from the field with sugar cane or from the tobaco field, you have to give part of the harvest or profit to the government. Nevertheless, in Cuba, first-class entrepreneurship in a pure form prevails. Parts for cars are replaced by wires, elements of refrigerators and other equipment, and despite several times higher prices of imported goods, people look fashionable.

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Speaking of cars. A car in Cuba can be bought only from another Cuban. Apparently Raul allowed the import of cars from abroad, but from conversations with residents it can be concluded that this is not really true in reality. Certainly, I am sure that cars are not cheap. The price of historical vehicle is up to 30000 euros, in turn, a very high duty is imposed on new vehicles imported from abroad. No wonder that men do their best to keep the machines running. At this point, in addition to historical old timers, Chevrolets, Cadillacs and “toddlers” that remained as a symbol of the revolution, you can also find new cars on the streets. However, I think that this will not change much in the coming years. After all, old vehicles are often the source of maintenance for many Cuban families.

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If you are wondering is it worth visiting Cuba, do not hesitate. It is a country where time flies slowly. People devote time to family and friends, not corporations. There are definitely more face to face conversations on the streets than by the telephone. Cuba is such an era called  “before the Internet”, there are not many computers yet, and the Internet is secured with a login and password, which can be used only in designated places, such as the main square in the town. This means that when you talk to a Cuban, he does not perk at the phone all the time because he has just got a notification on Facebook, or a message on WhatsUp.

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Lack of computers or access to the Internet also has other pluses. Everyone knows each other in Cuba and helps each other. I consciously did not order accommodation in Cuba (which I usually do a month before the trip) because I wanted to feel the rhythm of Kuba. The rhythm and life of real Cubans. I have stayed with grandmother Maria In Havana Vieja. While I knew only 10% of the language, she talked to me in Spanish forever. I have lived in Lazaro and Yailin house in Trinidad, who rented rooms at the bottom of the house and that allowed them to finance the finish of the upper part. The initial picture of the building did not encourage, but it turned out to be a very pleasant place. And in Santa Clara, I have decided to rent a room from a boy at a bus station, who turned out to be a student at the Institute of technology, he was helping his parents with the promotion of rooms prepared for rent.

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Living in various Casa Particulares also gave me the opportunity to admire the colorful houses of neighbors every day. Especially in smaller towns, it was worth going into narrow streets, where a multitude of colors matched perfectly with the sunset and the local landscape.

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Emphasizing once again a large amount of spare time, I have to mention that the rhythm of the day in Cuba is determined by the weather, local events and the street. For example, there is no obstacle to stop working and see the cyclists passing by the village during the Tour de Cuba (Vuelta a Cuba).

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The greatest activities for residents always take place on the street or the main market, if the town has it. Therefore, sellers, taxi drivers or residents often observe the surroundings from the window (home, car) or porch. Something I really love, there will always be at least two rocking chairs in front of the house, which allow  to comfortably observe the neighborhood and greet friends.

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The games are also held on the street. Children are happy to play baseball and football.

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Saturday is a normal day, suitable for preparation for Sunday rest. In smaller towns you can notice not only house keeping, washing shoes, but also washing entire walls of houses and driveways. In the evening, residents can count on a local event, such as a city disco or a fair. That is how I celebrated one Saturday in Vinales in February. The main street was closed, there were plenty of food and alcohol stalls along it (including local sellers who sold mutton sandwiches, competing with local restaurants), while in the square next to the church, where usually young people were surfing the Internet, there was music announcing the disco. The celebration lasted until dawn.

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In Cuba people have their farm gardens and flocks. There is no artificial food which makes all meals fresh and tasty. Instead of a car, some have horses. Apparently, in the 90s, when Cuba lacked food and oil, Fidel issued a ban on killing cows and horses that were to replace the means of transport. This is probably how it stayed until today, because Cubans will sooner get on a horse than walk in the hot sun. Horses are also an interesting alternative to visiting this country. It is a challenge in mountainous terrain, but it is really worth it, if you do not exaggerate the length of the trip. A five-hour trip on a horse can make everyone tired, unless you were born in Cuba and traveled this way since childhood.

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Soil is also conducive to the cultivation of tobacco and sugar cane. That’s why Cuba smells of tobacco and tastes like rum. I wrote about sugar factories here.

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And at the end of all these sensations, you can relax in Cuba on the partly deserted beach. Most tourists are in Varadero anyway, and local residents are anywhere but here.

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To all who want to relax, return to childhood, where you sipped bottle of pure lemonade and sat in front of the house – I recommend Cuba :)

Today, tourism in this country is one of the main sources of livelihood.

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And the last thought: Cubans love and hate Castro at the same time. Cuba is a country that, despite its small size, has remained indifferent to the pressure of the US. Fidel Castro has led the revolution that let Cubans free from Batista’s rule, giving the people of this country the hope of equality against owned properties. Despite the food regimen and strange prohibitions, island’s inhabitants still remember romantic heroes, including Che Guevara. But I might talk about this next time…

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