Cuba is full of white sand beaches with crystal clear water, mazes of Instagrammable architecture set behind Cuba’s quintessential classic cars, and countless performance venues full of world class musicians and dancers. Why on earth would anyone spend their Caribbean vacation sitting in a dark, old movie theater? Allow me to make my case.

I first visited Cuba in 2013 and have returned more times than I can count, including several multi-month visits that afforded me the time to go beyond the typical tourist attractions. While WiFi access in Cuba is rapidly improving, this wasn’t the case during my first few visits. I enjoyed six weeks of Internet-free travel, something that’s becoming harder and harder to achieve. What does one do when they can’t spend their afternoon broadcasting themselves living their best life on social media? They go to the movies.

During a three-month hitchhiking road trip across Cuba in 2016, I visited many small towns where there wasn’t much to do. After a week in the small city of Bayamo, I asked local friends for suggestions. They suggested I revisit the three museums I had visited a few days previously. Mind you, these were not the massive history and science museums you find in New York City or Washington, D.C., where one could easily spend a week in a single museum. So, instead of revisiting Baymo’s small museums, each of which could be fully explored in 45 minutes, I headed to the local movie theater.

During Cuba’s Special Period, a time of deprivation following the collapse of the Soviet Union, many cinemas closed due to lack of funding, so the state opened small “video rooms” to screen movies on VHS. Many of these video rooms still exist in small cities and rural areas that lack a proper cinema, though they’ve upgraded to screening movies on DVD.


https://www.thedailybeast.com/cubas-old-movie-theaters-make-delightful-destinations

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