The Cuban experience comes naturally to Max Nelson, owner and co-founder of Hasta Cuba; partly because he’s been to the mysterious land over 5 times this past year alone, and partly because traveling is ingrained in his being. Max’s passport bears stamps from over 30 countries, so it’s safe to say he knows a thing or two about hopping ponds.
Thankfully for Hasta Cuba adventurers, all trips begin and end with Max’s love for the country and desire to make Cuba happen for everyone. We asked Max a few questions to help you get to know the man behind the scenes of your next once-in-a-lifetime vacation.
- I was born on the border of Arizona and Mexico in a city called Nogales. My Mexican family all still live there. I moved to Half Moon Bay when I was three months old; this is my home.
- I am the owner and Co-founder of Hasta Cuba. I started the company with my Cuban partner Andres, and together we coordinate local immersion programs that allow travelers to have a more authentic travel experience by connecting them with local guides who share their insights into Cuban life.
- I have a background in entrepreneurship and have spent a lot of time around small businesses with my family. I have always known I wanted to start a business that worked with Latin America, and after a visit to Cuba I saw an incredible opportunity where I could use my extensive travel knowledge and offer services to clients. Cuba has been recently reintroduced to American tourism, which means there is a ton of space to grow.
- I really enjoy visiting the Viñales Valley. It has such a lush landscape and is just beautiful to explore.
- The mojito is always a classic; so refreshing and just what you need after a long day in the sun. A very typical dish in Cuba is Ceviche. Ceviche is made of fresh fish that is cooked with lime juice. Ceviche is common all over Latin America and many countries claim to be the originators. Being Mexican I am biased and think that we have the best one but I really do love the Cuban version.
- Be patient and slow down. Let Cuba happen for you. Do not try to force things.
- The biggest help I give is insight. It is so easy to explore Cuba without ever having an understanding of how the country works. By asking a lot of questions to your local guide, you are able to gain a better sense of the culture and the people.
- My passport wallet that has traveled with me to 30+ countries, Spotify playlists downloaded for offline streaming, and a toothbrush (it’s the first thing I do when I land).
- I have a nice Hasta Cuba playlist that is a great inspiration. I listen to Podcasts pretty religiously - any time I am in my car I usually go straight to a podcast.
- I have a very vivid memory of riding around in a pink convertible on my first trip with Hasta Cuba. I was sitting up front looking back at two clients chatting with Lidyz, one of our guides. We were all drinking pina coladas out of fresh pineapples, listening to Lidyz share her experiences with the eager clients; it was then I had the “ah ha” moment, and realized this is my life...
Need some more travel advice from Max? Whether or not you’re ready to book your dream Cuban vacation, you can reach Max by emailing email@example.com. Gracias y hasta luego!