This is a Caribbean paradise where poverty is universal, basic necessities are rationed and regulation is everywhere, but where the people positively glow.
Amid teetering buildings, crumbling roads and starkly unfinished and abandoned Soviet-era concrete edifices, Cubans maintain a vibrant, sensual cheerfulness that makes perfect sense of rum, cigars and salsa.
So says John Swords writing about his trip to Cuba. Evidence of Cubans poverty is everywhere, but it is oh so quaint.
And the music. It was everywhere. There were songs at lunch and serenades at dinner, mainly by professional musicians, but sometimes by waiters, guides and bus drivers.
In the evenings there were earthier rhythms in the salsa bars and special music clubs where first-class musicians played the countless Cuban styles now known to the world as salsa.
The locals are more than willing to get you up on the dance floor, but be warned – salsa Cuban-style involves plenty of body contact and plenty of energy.
You can forget fidel. Forget che. Forget the Buena Vista Social Club.
The real stars are the Cubans. Despite poverty, red tape, the blockade (or embargo), hurricanes and economic collapse, they’re still laughing. Maybe the joke’s on us.
Sting and Trudie agree, why it’s downright Captivating.