Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Cycling Through Cuba with Richard Bangs

We are living in a remarkable time. After more than 50 years of ice cold relations, the U.S. and Cuba are at long last thawing their relationship, and it is for the better. The trade embargo imposed on Cuba for decades has been a failed, outdated approach to foreign affairs for a very long time, but fortunately some semblance of sanity is returning, and the two nations are now on a path to normalizing – and formalizing – relations. 

It is in that environment that the travel industry has found a great deal of excitement this year. Cuba has long been off limits for American travelers, some of whom went to great lengths to go there anyway. But now, travel to the Caribbean country is a real option, and many are lining up to visit the place while it is still in its current, preserved state. 

Recently, my friend Richard Bangs led a group of travelers on a cycling journey through the island nation and shared his experience with readers at the Huffington Post. His journey took him through a series of historical sites, beautiful landscapes, and burgeoning urban settings. Cuba, it seems, is still caught in the past, but is joining the 21st century very rapidly. 

The island nation is tailor made for cycling it seems. Richard says that in the 1990's, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, bikes were the dominant form of transportation. Traffic has increased since then of course, but the roads are bike-friendly, and the terrain isn't particularly demanding. 

Richard's journey through Cuba is made all the more memorable as he is joined by his seven year old son Jasper. The young man rides a trail-a-bike behind his father for much of the trip, while having the rare opportunity to explore a country that is opening up to future possibilities for the first time in many decades. The father-son duo roll their bikes past farms, beautiful beaches, and buildings that were the height of luxury back in the 1950's. 

As someone who does a good deal of travel writing, I know that there is immense interest in visiting Cuba right now. Richard's article will give you taste of what it is like there, as the country goes through a transition period. Eventually, Cuba will begin to change, as economic forces from outside start to develop the country. For those who want to see it in its purest form, now is the time to go. While the future does indeed look much brighter for the Cuban people, much of its charm will eventually disappear, lost in the mists of the modern age.

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