Havana

In Cuba, internet is limited to a handful of public spots like parks or squares.

Sure, definitely could be a nuisance to some, but for me it was my ticket to temporary solace away from tech. Lack of a regular internet/LTE connection meant the liberation of not feeling compelled to reach for my phone every 12 minutes (a recent study showed that we on average reach for our phones 80x a day). I fully embraced the lack of internet by deleting social media and dating apps, the usual culprits that I cycle back and forth between on my iPhone.

This made every interaction far more meaningful and every connection so much more special. There is such vibrance that emanates from a city where people are grounded in their current time and place, rather than mindlessly moving from point A to point B while staring at a phone screen. Indeed, I had an incredible four days exploring Havana, largely due to walking through the city with wide eyes and a fully present mind.

One of my frustrations with social media is the disconnect between people’s physical and digital selves. You might find someone funny and interesting through their social activity, and feel connected to them through likes and comments, but in person the interaction falls flat. This disconnect is SO jarring especially if the physical and digital self in any way foil each other. I’ve consequently started caring less and less about people’s social profiles (including my own) and increasingly focused more on how I feel when I’m around them in person.

What is so special about my Havana adventure is that I will only know the people I met in Cuba as their physical selves. Our interaction is forever locked to a specific time and place that I will nostalgically recall and fondly look back on. No need to maintain an unnecessary social media back and forth - I’ll see folks when our paths cross again.

Below are my favorite shots from my four days of being fully present in Havana in the company of friendly faces, and also some US/Cuba travel FAQs underneath the photos. Until next time Cuba!

US/Cuba Travel FAQs

  1. Can US Citizens travel to Cuba? Yes. When I was initially doing research, the search results seemed a little sensational and also indicated there would be a lot of red tape: you gotta do THIS and THAT and then TWIRL and AGAIN and good god I was so sure I wasn’t going to go to Cuba. Then I asked my friend who’s family lives there and he was like nah dude you’re totally good: all you gotta do is buy a visa at the airport. And I was like dope, great, gonna go buy my Cuba tickets.

  2. Wait but aren’t there sanctioned reasons? Yes, I think there’s like 12 categories of travel, and unfortunately tourism isn’t one of them. I wasn’t asked why I was in Cuba when I came back through Customs (also have Global Entry); it seems that most tourists fall under the bucket of “supporting the Cuban people”.

  3. Do you have to get a visa? Yes you just get it in advance when checking in. I flew JetBlue and it was $50 when I checked in at the ticket counter. Prices and processes vary per airline.

  4. How did you fly there? I was in Orlando, FL for work and there’s a direct Orlando to Havana flight. Super fast, in one hour I was there!

  5. Damn. Sounds easy. Should I go? YES! What a gem of a place.