Cuba Through A Fisheye Lens

Travel to Cuba for tourism is officially banned, but in 2014, the rules were relaxed to permit American travelers to visit under an honor system.

Rocio Yepez

“​I have ​a​ degree in​ ​psychology, but didn’t pursue a career in that field,” shares Rocio Yepez,​ ​who I’m ​catching up with during dinner at​ a​ local eatery in ​Cuba’s Trinidad, 200 miles southeast of ​Havana.

The owner​ of Fisheye Journeys, ​​Ms. Yepez has gathered a group of ten tourists on her bi-annual tour to experience the cuisine and culture of ​Cuba. A tailor ​made​ tour​ for those who want to ​truly ​experience the highlights of this lush and tumultuous ​​Caribbean country,​ it’s a company she ​started two years ago when​ ​travel restrictions were lifted ​allowing for the Dallas native, who packed​ ​​in​ a corporate bank job, to ​fulfill a dream of combining her business savvy skills and her love for traveling.

“I ​just ​love it here,” she beams. “I enjoy coming to Cuba to show travelers all the hot spots and share the local culture.” adds Yepez, ​who has traveled to Cuba a dozen times over the past ​three​ years ​and has ample connections and contacts​ in various cities dotted around the idyllic island.

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O​n a Fisheye Journeys trip,​ you’ll soak up the atmosphere of ​four​ very vibrant and different ​Cuban ​cities. You’ll hang out with Habaneros in Havana​ while learning how to salsa dance, peruse pastel colored houses, ride 1950s-era cars and explore Spanish-colonial architecture in Old Havana. You will ​enjoy panoramic views as you hike up the lush Escambray mountains in Vinales​, where you’ll learn about the production of Cuba’s legendary cigars.  You’ll soak in Afro-Cuban history in the touristy town of ​Trinidad​ and explore the sugar-white beaches​ of Varadero​ – all​ ​in just nine days while staying at various carefully selected charming Casas Particulares (bed and breakfast guest houses). There are also shorter trips available and the added bonus of a resident photographer stationed with each group to capture their daily dalliances.

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Under the U.S. trade embargo, travel to Cuba for tourism is officially banned, but the Obama Administration in 2014 relaxed the rules to permit American travelers to come and go under a “report yourself” honor system.

If you have never visited ​this Caribbean gem, there has never been a better time to plan a trip than now​ to experience the laid back beauty of Cuba and see the vibrant Colonial architecture​ from​ the fabled Hotel Nacional and the Malecón— the five-mile stretch of seawall and roadway stretching from Old Havana up to the Vedado neighborhood.​ 30739383_10155599691129499_2746718507340136448_n

The county is a standing work of art entrenched in culture and history, and with Fisheye Journeys, under Yepez’s expert guide, ​​you will certainly experience the crafts, folklores, language and celebrations and feast on everything from homemade cooking to international cuisine. Her​ group of tourists​​ ​on this trip hail ​from across ​three​ continents ranging in age from 27 to 64 ​and despite its diversity, this 33 year-old entrepreneur easily relates to the group,  always ensuring everyone’s needs are met. Certainly tapping into that ​psychology​ study.

With ​packing suggestions​ and​ a ​carefully crafted Itinerary,  ​Fisheye Journeys​ has carefully unraveled the complicated logistics of adventure travel ​allowing travelers to enjoy a stress-free trip. ​T​here are​ also a couple of​ free afternoons​ thrown in ​wher​e the independent ​traveler can veer off the ​​beaten path and further explore the captivating Afro-Caribbean Island.

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For more information on traveling to Cuba visit http://www.fisheyejourneys.com/

Pictured (top) Fisheye Journeys CEO Rocio Yepez (photo by Ira Kononenko)

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