Who really wants Cuba have seen fully, should nevertheless once to leave the main island and take a trip to Isla de la Juventud. The island is very little visited by tourists, however it has a number of cultural and natural attractions and especially above shows Cuba in all its authenticity.
The so-called Youth Island got its current name until 1978 when in the 1960s and 1970s many thousands of young people to the hitherto sparsely populated island went to study and work on the so-called rural schools. These schools had the aim to teach the youth that there should not only be studied and thought but also manual labor is needed. On rural schools was effectively studied and a few hours a day the students worked in orchards or on land. As a tribute to all those young people coming to the island to live voluntarily in the system to function, the island was renamed Isla de la Juventud, Youth Island. Previously, the Isla de Pinos was called because of the large number of pine forests which could be found. Between the 16th and the 18th century the island was, however, ?? just like so many islands in the Caribbean when ?? a shelter for a lot of pirates such as Francis Drake, Henry Morgan and Thomas Baskerville. They called it at that time, Puffin Island and the place inspired Stevenson also to write his story Treasure Island.
The exploration will most likely for most people start with two visits that are linked to two famous exiles who ever ended up on the island, namely Jose Marti and Fidel Castro. A young José Martí wrote in 1869 showed him picking up a number of anti-colonial texts and the Spaniards and sentencing to six years of forced labor. After a while working in a quarry near Havana Marti was to ?? then ?? Isla de Pinos deported where he spent nine weeks at the Finca El Abra. Finca which is today to visit the day, a stone's throw from Nueva Gerona.
The second notorious outlaw who arrived on the island was none other than Fidel Castro himself. After the failed attack on the Moncada barracks in 1953 he was put in prison in the so-called ?? model ?? prison, the Presidio Modelo, something outside Nueva Gerona. The structure consists of four circular blocks in which the small cells are arranged into five floors above the other. One guard in the middle of the building around around all cells keep an eye on, as it sounds. The prison was built under the dictator Gerardo Machado between 1926 and 1931. Fidel Castro remained locked in this prison until May 1955, when the then dictator Batista proclaimed a general amnesty. After his release, Castro went to Mexico where he was preparing his next steps. The Presidio Modelo is in any case a somewhat grim but nevertheless intriguing and interesting visit.
At the other end of the island, to the southwest, the visitor after a drive through uninhabited and unspoiled area near the town of Cocodrilo, a village with 750 or so people who only fishing can live, something else is not there after all. The town was originally from the ground up by a number of British immigrants from the Cayman Islands and perhaps speak here or there someone or some English. The coastline shows rugged rock formations, small coves and turquoise sea. Not that difficult Stevenson Treasure Island are based on this.
Across Cuba: Isla de la Juventud