Cuba was awesome. It far surpassed my expectations.
Cuban Spanish was a challenge but not impossible.
Before our trip, I was nervous to travel through Cuba. I wasn’t sure how safe the country was. I also wasn’t sure how the locals felt about tourists.
After years of problematic foreign relations with the United States, would the Cuban people have a negative opinion of foreigners (specifically foreigners from English-speaking countries)?
In the end, it turned out that I had nothing to worry about.
After a week of travelling around Cuba, we completely fell in love with the country.
The food was amazing. The people were incredibly warm and welcoming. There was so much to do and see and learn.
How to see Cuba
To see as much of the country in a short time frame we organised a tour. The tour included a driver and guide for a week. All accommodation and a number of meals were included—mostly breakfasts.
The first day of the tour involved a look around the main city in Cuba, Havana. The culture and life in the city really impressed us.
Recently, the Cuban government has relaxed the regulations on businesses. This has allowed new restaurants and cafes to open around the central business district. As a result, there is now a growing scene of trendy places to eat and drink, which made for a vibrant atmosphere.
We spent our next few days in Viñales, which is a small town close to where they grow all of the Cuban tobacco. Next, we traveled to Santa Clara where they have a museum and monument dedicated to Che Guevara. To finish we spent a few days in Trinidad, which is a beautiful, authentic town close to the beach.
Cuban Spanish is fast and the accent is strong.
The people tend to shorten words by dropping the letters ‘s’ and ‘d’.
English: I’m tired.
Español: Estoy cansado. (Normal Spanish)
Español: Etoy cansao. (Cuban Spanish)
If you are used the Spanish of another Spanish country, this change will take some adjustment.
To adjust your listening skills as quickly as possible, the key is getting involved in as many conversations as possible. It is much easier to ask questions and control the context than listen in on other conversations and hope to pick it up.
If you are considering a trip to Cuba to see the country or practice your Spanish, it is absolutely worth it. I can’t recommend it enough.
Even if you have a lot of time, I would still recommend an organised tour. This is to avoid any battles you may face with an unreliable public transport system.
Is Cuba on your list of places to see?