Cuba…. a land lost in time. up until the 1950´s Cuba was a growing country with beautiful grandiose cities, a thriving art and music scene, and a lot going for it. I really cant even imagine what an incredible place it must have been at that time. then, in 1959, Fidel Castro flipped a switch and time stopped for Cuba. the impressive buildings slowly started to crumble, with no new upkeep or repairs done to them. ginormous Cadillacs and Chevys from those years, still roam the streets, relics of another era that just never got replaced. yeah, socialism really did a number on Cuba, leaving people with very little in the way of material goods and new technologies.
yet, the people have not let that break them. walking around Cuba, you would almost never guess that the people here are as “oppressed” as the rest of the world says they are. everyone is always outside partying, smiling, and laughing. music plays everywhere, the bars are full, and spirits seem high. of course, what you can see with your eyes, isn’t necessarily the same as what lies beneath. I’m sure that life isn’t as easy for Cubans as it may look sometimes. but, at the same time, I’m would bet it isn’t as horrible and awful as David made it seem… I’m sure his stories were a bit skewed in order to get some pants.
so, somewhere in between, lies the truth. as a tourist, you never really can see the full picture of any country you visit. you can only see what’s on the surface. luckily, even just on the surface, Cuba had a lot to give. the country itself is incredibly beautiful, from the charming cities with their many plazas, old colonial buildings, and interesting streets, to the palm dotted lush greenery that covers the rest of the island. Havana with its thriving nightlife and incredible sights, Camaguay with its winding streets and quiet parks, Santiago de Cuba with its diverse neighborhoods, and Cienfuegos with its ocean views and mellow lifestyle… each city that I visited was wonderful in its own way. but, as i read somewhere, it’s the people of Cuba that are its real treasure. Cubans are exuberant, well educated, creative, and artsy. on every corner you see art for sale or hear wonderful music being played. there is always something going on and it seems life never slows down. the amazing music drives the nightlife here, as do the mojitos, daiquiris, and Cuba Libres that were all invented here. it’s definitely a great country to take some time out, kick back, have a drink, smoke a cigar, and people-watch for hours on end. also, you get to at least sort of get a better perspective of how people live here because you can stay in people’s homes and witness things firsthand. now, if only they could do something about the food, heh.
over the last decade, tourism has slowly started changing Cuba, little by little. tourism has given Cuba a much needed influx of cash, but unfortunately has also given it a large influx of hustlers and prostitutes. luckily, other than the huge resorts, tourism hasn’t changed Cuba a ton. there are still no advertisements all over and no McDonalds on every corner. Cuban life has largely remained intact, which on one hand makes this a pretty difficult country to travel in, yet is a great thing because you get a more authentic vision of it all.
while I was gone, Fidel got sick, so who knows what the future holds for Cuba. perhaps the government will change, and socialism will end here just like it has in so many different countries recently. if that happens, the us embargo will most likely be lifted as well. these two things would radically change Cuban life and in just a short time, it would be a radically different country. maybe in just a little time, US citizens will be able to travel to Cuba again and not have to sneak in like I did. I sure hope so, cause I’d really like to go back…