Taking the Mystery Out of Cuban travel and Baseball
By Jay Smith
Some people in 2019 may believe that travel to Cuba is now off-limits given changes made by the Trump administration.
I am able to tell you with certainty, however, that the country is still very much accessible.
Cuba is a tremendous place to visit for history, culture, and ambiance. The countryside is beautiful. And the Cuban people are welcoming. They want us—and need us—there.
Slightly More Complicated
Booking a trip to Cuba has gotten slightly more complicated with the Trump administration’s elimination of a travel designation created by President Obama.
If you understand the new designation, however, there is really no difference to speak about.
You can’t just go to Cuba to visit the beach. There are 11 authorized categories that are available to Americans interested in traveling there. You must have an intended purpose.
For individuals, the former People to People category allowed travelers to visit and experience Cuban history or to have an educational Cuban experience. That designation has been eliminated by the Trump administration.
If you want to travel independently to Cuba now, you can instead consider traveling under the Support for the Cuban People category, which allows travel to Cuba if guests maintain a full schedule of activities that do not directly support the Cuban government.
No State-Run Hotels
For example, you can’t stay in a government-run hotel or watch a concert if the band is paid for by the government, but you can stay at Airbnbs or eat at privately-owned restaurants, called paladars.
At Sports Travel and Tours in Hatfield, Massachusetts, we have a trip to Cuba coming up in the late fall, and we can make Cuban travel easy for you.
Because it was planned before changes were made to the travel regulations in June, we are grandfathered under the People to People category.
If you like baseball and exploring other countries, you might consider one of our packages. Our trip to Cuba begins Monday, November 4 and runs through Sunday, November 10.
Explore the History and Culture–And Baseball
We plan to explore the country’s incredible history and culture, as we did on a trip we took there in 2016.
Our travelers were inspired by the Cuban people, who are eager to show guests around the land they love and take great pride in.
“It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done, and I’ve traveled all around the world,” said Chuck Carter of Spokane, Washington.
“I thought I knew all about the country’s government and economy, but when I got there, it was so different from what I had in mind.
We found warm, friendly people who were excited to see Americans come to their country. I was certainly surprised, in a good way.”
“Seeing Cuba was really the highlight,” agreed Jeffrey Grossman of Redmond, Washington, who traveled with his son, Seth. “It was less about Cuban baseball and more the experience of visiting this country that has been off-limits my entire life.”
El Aljibe for Chicken
When Sports Travel and Tours heads to Cuba again this fall, guests will have full bellies, with stops at El Aljibe, renowned for its 62-year-old secret recipe for roast chicken, and the luxurious La Guarida, Havana’s most well-known paladar, to name a few.
Under the wings of our tour guide–hopefully Louis “Edgar” Perez Gonzalez again–guests will learn about everything from the Cuban school system to military service to religion.
Trip highlights include a visit to Muraleando, a neglected neighborhood turned community art project; a tour of Ernest Hemingway’s home, Finca Vigia, featuring original furniture, artwork, and personal memorabilia; a walking tour of Havana’s historic squares, with breathtaking colonial architecture.
We will also visit Palmar Junco Stadium, said to be the oldest continual use baseball stadium in the world, dating back to 1874.
Put Away Your Cellphones!
It won’t be a place where tourists can be glued to their phones, sending every photo through social media within seconds.
Internet is not easily accessible, though there are hotspots where phone and tablet users will congregate.
Instead, a trip to this nation is a time to disconnect with technology and reconnect with this beautiful country’s past and the people of its present.
Cuban Life So Different
Our travelers will see that Cuban life is quite different from our own in many ways. A good job might pay $20 per month; a surgeon, or the best baseball players, might make $40 a month.
But the people are granted stipends for food, and residents don’t pay for housing or medical care.
Whether you prefer to travel alone or with a company like ours, do remember that—if nothing else—Cuba is safe.
Support the Cuban people. Travel there, and explore a country that will take you back to the 1950s.