Cuba was absolutely fascinating, but what else could you expect from a country that once followed a poet into a state of revolution?
I loved the people I met out in the country. They were very relaxed and laid back and the hospitality was second to none. The houses looked old and run down, and inside there wasn’t much but the most basic of comforts. However, everything in the homes was kept super clean. Sometimes I saw garbage scattered around at the side of the roads, but the front porches were shiny and immaculate. I often saw animals that looked like they could use a vet, or more food.
In the towns and cities, there were great people, but also a lot of adults aggressively looking for handouts. Old Havanna, especially. The government is restoring some of the buildings there, and they look very beautiful—the kind of thing tourists really gobble up. The restored buildings stand side by side with the buildings that are falling down. The contrast between the restored buildings and the ones that still need to be restored really shows how long they were let go.
Transportation around Cuba was lacking. Lots of people stood by the side of the road waiting to hitch a ride to work or home at the end of the day. I was told that this is actually a pretty safe practice in Cuba, and it doesn’t really take that long to get around that way. I expected to see only old cars there, but there were actually a lot of newer cars built in Russia or a few Asian countries. I was told that the big old cars are such gas guzzlers, and the price of gas there is high for Cubans.
I think it’s interesting that so many people state that Cuba is such a poor country, when everyone I saw was obviously well fed, had nice teeth, and mostly in good physcical shape. They were very, very well educated as well, since they can attend one of many Cuban universities for free. They obviously don’t have any of the material luxuries that we take for granted, so I think because we are spoiled, we think they look poor.
The Cubans I spoke to loved their work, and their country, and took a lot of pride in talking about it. I don’t think that Cubans are as poor as we are embarrassingly rich. A couple of Cubans I met and spoke to seemed to be embarrassed/uncomfortable by tourists giving hand-outs. They said that the beggars were asking for stuff becuase they had been given handouts in the past. Cubans recieve what they need through rations, and the quality of things like soaps and toiletries are not as nice as the commercial stuff we use, but they do the job.
The resort I stayed at was out in the country, and it was at the very end of tourist season. Wild birds woke me up every morning, and I often had the beach and staff all to myself. There was a spectacular coral reef just off shore where I saw some really beautiful fish. I also snorkeled in a cave, and at a protected reef (something like a national park in Canada) where you aren’t allowed to touch the coral—only look.
Most of the food at my resort was traditional Cuban fare… Lots of beans & rice, chicken, fish, cabbage, and fresh raw fruits and vegetables and nice fresh bread. I ate really healthy the whole time because without the fast food chains and corner stores (Cuba is a communist country, remember)I really felt no pressure to buy or eat junk food.
I could have spent months there learning about the culture, listening to the music, hanging out around the ocean, and avoiding the pressures of capitalism. I will definitely be going back.over 7 years ago