The Christian Science Monitor

Why Cuba’s zip lines and B&B’s have fallen on hard times

Idalmis González Pérez wants more Americans swinging from her trees.

On a balmy afternoon, dozens of children and parents in white helmets scramble up a flight of wooden steps wrapped around a tree, screaming out to one another in a variety of English and Spanish accents. Las Terrazas employees clip visitors to the wire cable one by one and give them a small push. Then they fly down a mile-long zip line, squealing as they speed over ravines, ferns, and lizards.

Like many of the other employees, Ms. González has lived and worked at Las Terrazas, a nature reserve and tourist destination west of Havana, her entire life, so she is used to touring strangers around her home. But over the past two years, Ms. González has watched fewer visitors soar above her head.

Recent hurricanes have affected tourism numbers in beach resort towns like Varadero, Cuba, but the tourism market in Las Terrazas has been hit by more than storms, says Ms. González.

“The media manipulates a lot about Cuba,” she says, “and I’m not the

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