Monday, March 13, 2017

Cuba: Life on Havana streets

Much of our time in Cuba was structured around educational activities—lectures, performances, museums, but equally interesting and wonderful, for me, was our time spent walking and riding through the streets of Havana and observing life in the city. The day we arrived we had some time, after checking into our very grand hotel, to rest or explore on our own. Ray and I chose to head out, on foot, to get a feel for the neighborhood. We found ourselves in an area of well-worn mid-century office and apartment buildings and old cars. Despite a general grittiness, I was charmed by the decorative panels inset into the sidewalks. They spoke of a definite '50s design aesthetic and seem to have held up quite well—better than most of the buildings of the same

The next day we were headed into the heart of Havana Vieja (Old Havana) and our route took us through the crowded semi-old neighborhoods, filled with the life of the city. Beautiful children, workers, public servants and elders living the lives of average Cubans. To our American eyes they may look poor, even impoverished, but our Cuban guide was quick to correct that notion. There is no unemployment, there are no homeless. Everyone eats. Everyone receives excellent free healthcare and all children attend good public schools. You may wish to debate the finer points and nuances of life in a Socialist society, and wonder how they live without the internet and free press and clean, drinkable water and so many of the things we find essential, but those first statements are basic truths about life in Cuba. We saw, of course, what they wanted us to see, but there was no denying a beautiful spirit in the people

The heart of Havana Vieja, in contrast to the neighborhoods, is dressed up for company! The buildings have been, and continue to be renovated and beautifully restored. The people dressed in their colorful colonial dress are hoping for a small tip for having their picture taken, or offering up some live music. The lady in red will tell your fortune and vendors will tempt you with local treats.

This lady advertised her paper cones of peanuts by singing out out "maniiiiiiiiiiiiii" in a rich operatic alto that could be heard from across the plaza. All requests come with a smile or a wink.

In Havana, all is beautiful...

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  1. Interesting. Beautiful Pictures. There certainly would be a debate about Socialism. Paired with dictatorship...well there's the rub.
    xx, Carol

  2. Nice photos and great commentary, Terry! I enjoyed reliving the experience through your eyes.