The Adventure Begins with the simple idea to travel to Cuba.
From elementary school, I remember history lessons about Cuba, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Bay of Pigs Invasion. Over the years, I have heard stories of Castro, Che, Communism, baseball, music, salsa and beaches.
In December of 2014, I was talking with a friend about travel and the discussion evolved into a discussion about Cuba. We both agreed that it would be cool to travel to Cuba and see for ourselves what the country was like in it's current state and before it changed. What were the people like? How had the country evolved socially and economically? Was it an island paradise or an island prison?
However, it is not easy for Americans to travel to Cuba because of the cold war politics, lack of diplomatic relations and an economic embargo that has been in effect since 1961.
On December 17, 2014, US President Obama and Cuban President Castro announced the beginning of the process of normalizing the relations between the US and Cuba.
What I discovered was that the process of normalizing relations could take some time… which was both good and bad for me. It was good because it meant that I might be able to travel to Cuba before the relations were normalized, before an influx of tourism and before the culture changed. It was bad because it meant that it would still be difficult to legally travel to Cuba.
I conducted some research and found out that US citizens can travel to Cuba under two scenarios.
First, there are organized cultural tours called people to people tours. I've never been a big fan of organized tours. I've always found independent travel more interesting and enjoyable.
Second, US citizens are able to legally travel to Cuba if they fall under one of twelve categories with examples such as: family visits, government visits, journalism, education, humanitarian projects, professional research and a few other options.
I decided to travel light… a folding bicycle, small backpack and my camera bag.
Here's all my gear… bike, backpack and camera bag.