Some thoughts on Cuba

I didn’t see much of Cuba. On the way out to Jardines de la Reina it was dark and I was passed out. On the boat, we just saw the staff and the boat and the miles and miles of pristine habitat. On the way back to Havana at the end of the trip I got to see Cuba in the daylight. I wanted to share some of my thoughts from this very brief glimpse at a country most of us haven’t been to.

  • At night the city of Havana is about 1/20th as bright as other big cities. They just don’t have the power or light bulbs to sparkle.
  • Cuba must have the most rocking chairs per capita of any country out there. It seemed every little house in the little towns had a rocking chair on the front patio, usually with someone in it.
  • It is a good thing Cuba is built on the land, else it might fall into the sea. There is a sense of general disrepair. The highways are rough and sometimes way too narrow. You have to slow down for bikes and horse-drawn carts and this is done within inches.
  • You will see a lot of people walking around to get to point B.
  • There are the old American cars like you’ve heard, but there are also newer cars. I saw an Audi A4 and a Benz suv, to name a couple.
  • Some of the shacks out in the countryside are simply that. Tiny, wooden and lived in.
  • In Havana there are places that are just waiting to fall over or fall in. It is like certain floors or buildings passed through some very selective apocalypse.
  • Everyone seems to have something to sell or some racket to pitch.
  • The colors of the buildings is pretty cool.
  • The old American cars spew black exhaust. This is not a place for asthmatics.
  • The architecture of Havana is really cool, but it all looks at risk.
  • Everyone seems to smoke, even the well dressed women at the nice place for dinner.
  • There isn’t as much propaganda as I thought there would be.
  • No one wants to talk politics.
  • Things in Havana are way more expensive than it seems like they should. You can have a $50 dinner, while the average official salary for a Cuban is something like $20/month.
  • The economy seems to be mostly black-market. Everything has a cost and everyone is selling. It seems to be the way they make things work .
  • Going through the country side you really get a sense of a very agricultural economy at work. Horses and cows seemed to be everywhere outside the towns (and in some cases in them).
  • Saw a little boy on a horse that looked straight out of Montana or Wyoming or old-time Mexico.

Cuba seems to be coming to a crossroads. What I saw looked pretty unsustainable. The buildings are old, the roads are old, the railroad is old and nothing seems to be getting fixed or built. It seems to be a slow burn to some finality.

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