The last of the great escapes. I knew in the back of my mind that going to Cuba in the first weeks of the Covid crisis was risky. The world watched in horror as news came out of Italy that hundreds were dying daily. All the reports suggested that the UK was two weeks behind and would follow the same trajectory. In the back of my mind, I was worried that Cuba had not had a single case of Covid, and that we might be responsible for transporting it.
But when adventure calls with two other friends, it’s hard to be the sensible one and let them down. I made noises suggesting that the virus wasn’t going away, was likely to get worse and maybe we should cancel, but they were optimists. My half hearted objections were pooh poohed and I felt I had no choice. Being a loyal friend meant going. Boris Johnson’s government was saying it was still ok – all we had to do was wash our hands. But I’m no idiot. I knew what was coming down the line. It was irresponsible to go. There I admit it. In hindsight I wouldn’t have gone. But I did.
Cuba has always been a land of mystery to me, shrouded in romance and revolution. Cigars and sanctions. Salsa and espionage. Blockades and Buicks. Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, the Bay of Pigs invasion. In reality these words meant little, and as we flew the four thousand odd miles to the Caribbean I reflected on my idealised view of this small country that had stood up to America. That it was paying the price for its socialist ideals and welfare state. And that it had good doctors and teachers. What we found, of course, was a far more complex reality.