There has been a lot of discussion lately on some travel blogs regarding this topic since popular blogger Wandering Earl recently returned from a visit to North Korea and has been posting about his experiences there.
We've been to Cuba.
We took our kids and did a one week all inclusive family trip back in April of 2002. At the time, I'm pretty sure we were just thinking of a week on the beach and in the sun, since it's very cheap for Canadians to go to Cuba. But once we got there, and spent a day in Havana, we became curious about the history.
A side street in Havana.
I won't get into the political crap that lead to the U.S. embargo on Cuba because that's all it is. Political crap. But if you're interested in hearing the Cuban side of the story (and there is always two sides!) you should do some research. Did you know that the vast majority of Cuban people love Fidel Castro? He's their hero, because for the average Cuban, life before Castro was much worse than life after Castro.
Did you know that it is not against the law for an American to visit Cuba? It is however, against the law for an American to spend any money there! Americans actually need a licence to visit Cuba. It's pretty interesting stuff and you can read all the details here... http://wikitravel.org/en/Americans_in_Cuba
Americans can also visit Iran, and North Korea and pretty much any other country if they wish. Iran actually has a tourist website. Here's an article from a couple of American travel bloggers who visited Iran... http://www.uncorneredmarket.com/2011/12/american-travel-iran/
As with Iran, you have to have a guide in North Korea. So it's a little more expensive than most other countries. You can do a guided group tour, or hire a private guide.
So, now that you know that you can actually visit these countries, the original question is...would you?
Would you visit a country whose politics or customs or religion you disagree with? We would do it in a heartbeat. No questions asked, when do we go. We love experiencing different cultures even if we disagree with the politics of that country. Seriously, who are we to tell them that they're wrong? Just as many people in those countries may well believe that they are totally right. Hmm. Politics and religion. But some people have so called ethical reasons for not wanting to visit some countries. As if their couple of thousand dollars spent there is going to make any difference at all to the people in power.
Unspoiled Cuban countryside.
Will we ever make it to any of these strange countries? Who knows, but if the opportunity ever arises, we'll jump on it. As for Cuba, we will definitely return there someday and spend some time exploring the countryside and getting to know the people. Now that our Spanish is better, I'm certain it would be a great trip. Maybe next year...?