Cuba swings to a different rhythm, and at first it can be hard to get the beat. Opinions are divided on the effect of Castro, 40 years of US blockade and the collapse of the Soviet Union. They have health care, education, food and work but Cubans are still not free to say what they think.Fortunately, the country has undergone a transformation since it opened its doors to global tourism in the 1990s. Staying at a casa particular (a private home with rooms to rent) gives the traveller a glimpse of life for the average Cubano, and opens up parts of the country that were once inaccessible or off-limits. It also frees up more money to enjoy the raucous nightlife that made Havana famous.The country's heritage is in safe hands. Historic Havana and Trinidad, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites, have undergone painstaking restoration and preservation. Walking around them is like a trip back in time.The concept of ‘ecotourism' is catching on here, and in this respect, the blockade has helped. Cuba has not suffered a half century of reckless expansion along its beautiful coastline, and there are countless pristine beaches waiting to be explored.