Alaska, Featured, History, Travel

Alaska to Cuba

Paintings of Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara are found in public squares throughout Cuba. Photo by Kari Anderson
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By Kari Anderson for Seward City News –

Some girls impulse purchase shoes. Unfortunately, I impulse purchase plane tickets… So, when my travel amiga told me that Alaska Airlines was beginning to offer service to Cuba, I booked myself onto their 5th flight into Havana without hesitation. I’m writing this story because I think there is a lot of confusion and curiosity about visiting this nation, and I wanted to share a few details about my wonderful experience.

This trip was unique because it wasn’t the typical Caribbean beach vacation. Music, culture, politics, and photography dominated the experience. I am a huge Ernest Hemingway fan, and I was able to visit a few of his old haunts in Havana. It was a fascinating time to visit Cuba with the recent death of Fidel Castro, and the current changes in the United States political scene. I had several engaging conversations with Cubans on their perspectives of the United States, and their hopes for the future of Cuba.

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The travel itself to Cuba was very easy. I had just two flights: Anchorage to Los Angeles, and Los Angeles to Havana. I wasn’t able to purchase my travel visa prior to the trip, but it was simple to pick one up in the Los Angeles Airport. There are a few other logistical travel details that I will share for anyone who is considering visiting Cuba anytime soon. You will have to fill out an affidavit form declaring the official reason for your visit. (Thank you to Steve and Sarah Fink for vouching that I was an official journalist for SCN!) Travel insurance is required, although I didn’t have any officials verify that I had it. Because US credit cards aren’t accepted in Cuba, a bit of advanced planning is necessary. I brought Euros to convert into Cuban convertible pesos, and booked our lodging ahead of time on Air B&B. US citizens are allowed to bring rum, cigars, and other items home from Cuba.

In total, I traveled around Cuba for 10 days visiting Havana, Vinales, and Cienfuegos. I drank mojitos, smoked farm rolled cigars, and salsa danced with cowboys! I visited scenic beaches, hiked in national parks and refuges, drank fresh coffee on a plantation, and rowed a small boat in a lagoon filled with flamingos. I strolled the city streets soaking in the ambiance, architecture, and artwork. I loved Cuba and I would return in a heartbeat!

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” -Marcel Proust

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