For American novelist Ernest Hemingway Cuba was love at first sight. The feeling was mutual and Cubans still consider Hemingway to be an important part of their island's history, a history which, judging by the vintage American cars on the streets and peeling paint on the beautiful old colonial buildings, stopped right around the time Hemingway lived here.
For while it's true that Cuba, known as the Pearl of the Antilles, is no longer quite the 'country lost in time' it was, it is making strenuous efforts to preserve its culture and heritage: it already has nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites to its credit and some of the best preserved land and waters in the Caribbean.
Of course, for most visitors Cuba's rich heritage is not just about cars and buildings. It's about the sultry salsa and rumba music that spills from homes and cafés onto the cobbled streets; the white, palm-fringed beaches that encircle the island; the rum and the cigars; the warm and gregarious Cubans: it's about a pulsating rhythm of life that is neither Latin American nor Caribbean but uniquely Cuban. It's easy to see why Hemingway was so smitten.