My first trip to CUBA was cancelled due to illness. Now, CUBA has been checked off of my bucket list.
Any visit to CUBA is to experience sadness and dismay tempered by melodious sounds that only Cubans can produce. Their country is a juxtaposition of destitution, decay and ruin, much of which cannot be recovered or restored no matter who tries to do it, or how much money is thrown at the project. The sociological experiment which was tried there has not worked. The economy is a confused chaos.
Living there is a daily test of patience, endurance and tolerance. Yet, the people seem to rise above this abysmal condition of poverty and smile, sing and dance. Perhaps they are masking their sadness, perhaps trying to overcome their daily disappointment with the situation in which they live.
HAVANA epitomizes the ying and yang of the country, polarized extremes exist side by side. It is a city in ruin, with little hope of ever seeing restoration and recovery to the times when it was in its glory, perhaps 200 years ago or more. But when it was in its heyday, HAVANA had to have been a gloriously beautiful city, buildings soaring three, four stories and more with magnificent facades unmatched in beauty and splendor. Who knows where things took a wrong turn, perhaps with the imperialism of the Yankee dollar and American capitalist society; perhaps with the corruption and moral decline which occurs when there is a monied class willing to spend money on endless sins and moral decadence; perhaps with the Castro upheaval which yanked the economic controls from the corrupt hands of Batista and his American cohorts; who knows but a turn was taken and now Cubans suffer for it.
Their government cannot govern effectively; their economy sputters along in fits and starts, never really actually engaging successfully with any consistency; the society is at a loss in its sociological positioning, no real middle class to speak of, no monied upper class, just an endless predominance of a huge lower class stuck in a quagmire of hopelessness, scarcity and confusion.
Would I recommend a trip to CUBA? Without hesitation. You will see so much which will restore your faith in the durability and endurance of humanity, suffering, yet not giving up hope of a better future; a medical system which is available universally but which can offer little more than hope and prayers, the former in great abundance, the latter only from the old women of the country; an education system accessible to every Cuban provided they have some inherent academic ability. Gr. 9 education is nearly universal which means literacy is very high among the general Cuban population. With some academic effort and motivation, higher education is not out of the question even for the most impoverished Cuban.
The Cuban economy today is very tourism centered. Their beaches are among the best in the Caribbean, with sun and warm temperatures, a jigsaw fit with the months of winter cold and snow in Canada. Hotels may be mislabeled if they get a 4 or 5 star ranking but they are tolerably clean with accommodation best described as spartan or utilitarian. Food is nutritious though again, prime quality anything is not readily available. Still, fish, fowl and fruit is in abundance, though Dole or Delmonte should not have sleepless nights fearing competition from Cuban producers.
There you have my overall initial impressions of Cuba. I have but scratched the surface of the Cuban soul. I would go back and likely will but with a better prepared mentality. A two week stay is the maximum I would do in Cuba as I feel one week cannot do justice to the tanning capability of their climate.
Come back for more thoughts about Cuba…and for some crucial tips too.
Thanks for visiting,