My friend stands at my side eagerly pumping the brakes of his sleek road bike; ahead is another divide in the road. We are in the Sierra del Rosario forest, a birdwatcher's paradise and nest of Las Terrazas eco-community, close enough to reach Havana by pedal--easy enough if you are a passionate Cuban cyclist, but it still highlights your struggle (and that of your compatriots) to live a life with no vehicle of your own.
I feel fortunate to be here now. I feel fortunate to be working for Backroads, a company that doesn't gloss over the realities of the world but instead offers its guests a closer, authentic and unfiltered look. Cuba and its people have now become something personal to me - more than news headlines and pages in a history book. It's the taxi driver, the pigeon-flyer, the port foreman and all the others who have helped me paint this beautiful portrait in my mind of a vibrant country full of hopeful people marching toward an uncertain future.
One of the most iconic and expected experiences of a trip to Cuba is the chance to ride in a brightly painted, impeccably cared for classic 1950s convertible. What you might not expect is the pure rush of excitement you feel sliding into the back seat. It was one of my favorite memories of our family trip to Cuba.
Last week our Cuba Trip Expert Lara and I returned from our annual Cuba "dry run," where we prepared for our upcoming Backroads Cuba trips starting in November. We were once again reminded that the vibrant personalities, artists and friends we encounter on this trip make an impact that lasts a lifetime. Cuba is changing so rapidly that the time to visit is now, and our Cuba Insider Trip is the best way to experience it!
As a die-hard fan and season ticket holder for the Oakland A's, I can usually be found in the bleachers behind our star left fielder Yoenis Cespedes, who defected from Cuba in 2011. I'm a big geek when it comes to baseball, and this was just one of many reasons I booked a Backroads trip to Cuba. Before I knew it, I was on my way to visit Cespedes' homeland. I was pretty excited to visit the Palmar de Junco ballpark, where the first official game of Cuban baseball was played. I even got to chat with some up-and-coming players and meet Rigoberto Rosique...