The toothpaste is out of the tube and there’s no putting it back.

Cuba is changing. It’s changed dramatically already, just in the few years since I was last there—and those changes are accelerating at a rate that no one can contain or control.

It’s long overdue.

It’s ludicrous that ordinary Cubans, 100 miles from our shores, have been excluded from the international conversation, deprived for so long of basic internet access, social media—even the ability to watch American baseball on TV.

All that will change.

It’s a country on the verge of something. I think it’s a country on the verge, among other things, of a tourism boom beyond anyone’s imagining. Because whatever your feelings on the Cuban government of the last half century, Cuba itself is beautiful. The Cuban people are uniquely wonderful: proud, resourceful (you sort of HAVE to be in Cuba), educated—and funny as hell. Even crumbling from neglect, Havana is the most beautiful city in all of Latin America or the Caribbean. The rum is the finest in the world, bar none. The music fantastic.

Everyone in the world will want to go there—and they soon will. This episode of “Parts Unknown,” the first of the season, marks a return. And I think you will be very surprised at what you see. I know I was.  

Please take note of the tail end of the episode. A long tracking shot of people, mostly young Cubans, hanging out by the Malecon in Havana. We have sort of a bet among ourselves—those of us who make the show— where we challenge each other to see how long we can hold a sequence without voice over, or dialogue. Just allow the images to speak for themselves. I think we outdid ourselves this time. I’m very proud of it.

The newsletter you need Get more Bourdain in your inbox.