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Enduring Cuba (Lonely Planet Travel Literature) Paperback – 1 Aug 2008
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...Lonely Planet, the intrepid traveler's bible...' --Los Angeles Times, April 2005 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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By all means read the book for a good insight into Cuba but bear in mind its missing much of the positive experiences that can be gained from a visit to the country. It largely ignores two major factors, most importantly, the joy d'vivre of the Cubans despite, or maybe because of, their economic hardships; and secondly, the life enhancing experinece that can be found in embracing the country's lack of commercialism and focus on simple pleasures in life such as music, landscape and human interaction.
Of most interest are accounts of experiences that an average tourist would not have: seeing a cockfight, attending a santeria ceremony, talking to a fearful beleaguered journalist. For historical/factual sections, Ms Brân's research is sound but shows massive duplication of effort: you find the same information, often in more depth, in Moon Guide or Rough Guide to Cuba. She has conversations with a wide variety of locals, including a film director, a couple of writers, an artist, a gay ex-pat and a witch. These can be entertaining, though most are neither more nor less interesting than those any independent traveller will have on a first visit. (It's surprisingly easy to meet a witch, a TV star, a plastic surgeon.)
Author Zoë Brân comes across as likeable, intelligent and highly motivated, but for this type of book, heavily reliant on interviews and conversations, she was clearly hamstrung by her lack of knowledge of Spanish. Taking the first lesson after arrival in Havana was about two years too late! (The Spanish quoted in the book is strewn with errors; why didn't Lonely Planet check it?). This is a book of snapshots rather than deep insights. It can't replace a guidebook, but is a pleasing enough read for first-timers by a first-timer.
I went to Cuba and traveled the whole island extensively for 3 weeks, but I was also aware that I have missed many parts of the island that I would have loved to visit more in depth.
The author gave me a deeper insight of the island and the lives and dreams of Cubans from the older to the younger generations and how they differ in their opinions and experiences.
I think this book is insightful, honest and entertaining, it highlights the country’s many contradictions by digging a little deeper into people’s lives and asking very direct questions. It doesn’t stop at the romanticized belief of the place that inhabitants are eagerly selling and tourists are gullibly buying. It certainly awakened my desire to go back to Cuba and spend a longer period there.
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