Saturday, March 04, 2017

Cuba: Havana. It begins

Where to begin? Our week in Cuba taught me just enough to know that I still have more questions than answers, and to understand all that Cuba is would require far more time and study. Take my observations with a grain of salt. I took lots of photos and will let them do most of the talking.

We arrived in Havana on an early morning flight with 18 other Road Scholar participants, meeting up with 2 guides—1 Cuban and 1 half Cuban-American—and the Cuban driver of our comfortable, Chinese-built, state-owned tour bus. We were immediately plunged into the bustle of the busy city. Our home for the next 4 days would be the imposingly grand, historic Hotel Nacional, also state-owned and operated.

Despite its small failings (it is old and things don't always work) and the occasional sewer-ish odors wafting from the plumbing, we came to love the beauty of the old building, the views from the vast lawn, the history and the unfailingly helpful, friendly, good-humored staff. This is where I first observed that there is live music around every corner in Cuba, from breakfast onward. Here I observed a timeless, joyful Havana spirit, hard to describe, but palpable. My daughter and her husband visited Cuba about 12 years ago, when they lived in South America. My son-in-law told me, "Cuba has this special—thing—something—." Words failed him. "You will see—" he finally said. I saw.

Americans may currently visit Cuba, not as "tourists" but as visitors with a purpose. Ours was education, so each day began with a lecture by a local expert in some aspect of the history and culture. Each was exceptional, my favorites being the speakers on architecture and religion. Both were retired university professors, and each unexpected and fascinating. Following the lectures, our days were spent visiting areas of the city, museums, and meeting with arts groups and observing their work. In my next post we explore Havana.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


  1. What a wonderful adventure -- and probably a lot of visual stimulation for a week! I look forward to seeing more photos!

  2. I almost signed up for this through Road Scholar~I so want to see Cuba before it completely opens up. Looking forward to your next post!

  3. Did you happen to bring back that pink car in the second picture for me?

    I'd love to go see Cuba.

  4. I know this was an interesting visit. I watched a TV show...I can't for the life of me remember the name. I think it's one of those HGTV shows. A business advisor went to Cuba to talk to business owners and give advise about their desires to expand the businesses they have. It was pretty informative about how Cuba has allowed some people to own businesses because the country can no longer afford to support it's people including their medical needs. Some of these owners were doing quite well, but the more wealthy would not discuss their income or some other details about their business. I'd be interested to know if you had any conversations about such subjects. I hope you'll post more about your visit including some of the shops you visited.
    xx, CArol