Cuba tends to be an island charged with an aura of exotic enticement, political stigma, and unconventional beauty. Some might think of Cuba with nostalgia, remembering Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders or Ernest Hemingway, both of who found inspiration in the Cuban heat. Particularly for Americans, Cuba still stands as an icon of political tension remaining from the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban missile crisis—a stigma manifested in the compelling visage of Fidel Castro dressed in his green army fatigues.

But Cuba has long since stood as an island full of possibilities, an island that has captivated the world for centuries. Cuba is Ricky from I Love Lucy, its sprawling fields of sugar cane, rum and minty mojitos, the uninhibited passion of salsa and mambo, and the cachet of Cuban cigars. Throughout history, Cuba’s enigmatic beauty, elusive essence, and verdant land have inspired not only the attention of international imperial powers but also the minds and work of artists and travelers throughout the world. It’s tumultuous history as a colonial powerhouse and geographical keystone have engendered a vibrant, occasionally mercurial, culture that can be utterly seductive.